Many sports are beginning to start preparations for the upcoming fall and winter seasons.  Depending on your role in sports be it coach, athletes, or parent how you prepare for the season will differ.  In a three part series we will discuss some of the keys to preparing for the season so that everyone can find success.

For many coaches there is no off season or down time. Once the season ends they are going over how to improve for next year.  By half way through they are ordering supplies, uniforms and planning their practice and game schedule.  All of this may seem very easy and very routine after a couple of years of coaching, but complacency can be one of the greatest threats to safety.

When ordering supplies it is important to take into account any changes in equipment policy and regulation.  Equipment manufacturers are great for making something new and improved, however does that new and improved model meet your league and governing body regulations?  Are the new improvements actually for the better or will they cause more harm to your athletes?  Did they remove padding to make the item lighter, leaving your athletes more prone to injury?  These are some of the questions that need to be asked to either your equipment manager or equipment representative.

Another aspect of ordering supplies is restocking your first aid and medical kit.  Replacing all used and expired items.  Keeping your first aid kit up to date with appropriate supplies to your sport and personal qualifications, is a major step in your risk management program.

Scheduling practices and games is very time consuming and at times very frustrating.  Keeping a good practice to game ratio is very important to avoid physical and mental development and to promote proper skill acquisition.  A minimum ratio of 2:1 would be nice.  For those coaching/teaching sports that do not involve games, keeping the number of hours of practice down is equally as important.  Look at the schedule from a monthly and yearly perspective as this will give you a better indication of what is actually going on, not just a week to week basis.

As a coach/instructor preparing your athletes for all aspects of life, not just the given sport is the greatest task you will be given.  Mike Babcock has said it is a “great opportunity to make a difference”, he is truly right.  You may not realize that not matter the age, you will be an influence on your athletes.  Being prepared to instil life skills and educate them on basics other than sports skills and tactics, will help you create better all round athletes, both on the playing surface and in life.

I have met many coaches who feel they need to be an expert at everything and be able to do it all.  As the coach you are the captain of the ship.  You need to ensure you have everything taken care of to guide your ship straight.  Being prepared before the season starts will set you on the right course, but no matter what you will face some turbulent seas and need to adjust course.  Having a group of experts to help you right the course will set you apart from the rest.

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