Start with pre-game goals

If the coach does not review whether the pre-game goals and objectives were met, the team will quickly come to see those goals and objectives as irrelevant. It also means that the coach must have a method to enable them to review performance, which may mean collecting “statistics” that are not recorded on the scoresheet or in game statistics.

This may require having an assistant coach, a colleague or a parent recording “statistics”, which the coach should make as objective as possible. For example, a statistic such as how many times a team went three possessions without scoring, is easy to identify. Whereas a statistic such as how many “good” passes the team made (irrespective of whether a shot was made) is much more subjective.

If a subjective measure is being used it may be better if that is collected by one of the coaches to avoid any dispute about whether or not they are correct.

Facts not Impressions

As much as possible the coach’s review of the game should be based upon statistics collected, not just the impression that the coach has after the game. The coach’s immediate impression after a game will often be influenced by how the game finished, rather than what happened throughout the game.

In collecting statistics it is good to identify the performance each quarter, so that a comparison can be made of performance during the game. If possible, noting when time-outs where called can also be useful as this will enable the coach to see how performance changed at the various times in the game.

The coach will no doubt have impressions about the game that are not related specifically to statistics being or to the specific pre-game objectives and goals.

For example, during the game a coach may notice that their players are not “jumping to the ball” in defence and identifies this as something that they need to work on in practice. As soon as they identify this the coach should note it down (often asking an assistant coach to make a note).

These notes are useful both for planning the next practice as well as giving feedback to the team.

Allow time

It is preferable for coaches to set aside time for reviewing the game with the players, rather than making lengthy speeches immediately after the game. Immediately after the game, the players need to focus on physical recovery, re-hydration and time for their own reflection.

The coach should also take time to review any notes taken, statistics kept and (if available) video of the game, before providing too much feedback.

Statistics Don’t Tell the Full Story

Whatever statistics are taken give only an indication of what happened in the game. Factors such as the tempo of the game (and who “dictated it”), substitution patterns (whether as the result of coaching decisions, injury or foul trouble), patterns of play being used etc. may not be reflected in any specific statistics.

Accordingly, coaches need to reflect upon the team’s performance and to encourage the players and assistant coaches to do the same. Letting the athletes lead a discussion about the performance of their team can be very useful.

Athletes may be overly negative (in which case the coach can highlight positive aspects) or the players may focus only on the score (in which case the coach can direct their attention to other things). Through using open ended questions, the coach can generate discussions amongst the team, particularly when the athletes are older.