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The Season in Review:
A Critical Self-Examination and Intelligent Off-season Preparation

By Dave DeVenzio, Director of the National Point Guard Camp
and Richard Ford, Assistant Director National Point Guard Camp

Before you begin.... from Coach Power, May 16, 2003

Next week marks the two year anniversary of the passing of a great man that I never had the pleasure of physically meeting, Dick DeVenzio. Dick and I shared a series of emails over a period of time that lasted for over a year and up to shortly before his death. The final email that I received from Dick was regarding his health condition, within three weeks he was gone. Yes, it can happen that quickly, enjoy life folks!

As Dick said: "Life is not fair, so:

  1. prepare intelligently;
  2. do your best when your efforts can make a difference;
  3. ignore things over which you have no control;
  4. expect to do more than your share;
  5. look for ways to eke out some joy from every situation."

Well, he had spurred my interest in his teaching principles, I wanted to learn more. I have been in contact with Rich Ford for the past several months regarding the National Point Guard Camp. The National Point Guard Camp was started last year by Dick's brother, Dave DeVenzio. I will get the opportunity to learn from these two great guys. Their combined 44 years of experience of working with Dick and learning his techniques should offer a great experience at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA this July.

Without further adieu...

PART I: FRAMING THE ISSUES AND SEEKING FEEDBACK

What are YOU doing now to prepare for next season? The smart player will begin preparing for next season by first critically analyzing last year's performance; then, he/she will craft an intelligent plan to become a better player. The process of critical self-examination is common in the corporate and professional world. It is essentially a calculated review of your past performance and identification of your strengths and weaknesses with a view towards constructing a roadmap for improvement. It is neither a process of blame laying or excuse making, nor a time to ignore the positive---a critical self-examination necessarily includes identifying those things you do well. However, for the process to work, you must be willing to subject yourself to level-headed scrutiny. To do this, you must check your ego at the front door and enter a room of true objectivity.

Most devoted players are already committed to several off-season improvement opportunities- - a camp or two, some type of structured league play, and some individual skill development work. But what are your points of emphasis? How will you focus your efforts? How can you best maximize the deceptively short off-season to truly become a better player? While there is no doubt that you will likely see some improvement by mere participation in "roll the ball out and play" and "shoot around" opportunities, don't you want to be more deliberate than that and have a thoughtful, tailored plan for personal hoops improvement? This article offers one way to assess your past season and prepare a reasonable plan of improvement for the upcoming year. Although this article is directed primarily to high school players, with an emphasis on point guard play, it may also benefit serious players at any level and position.

What Are Your Standards?
Your level of commitment in the off-season will largely be a result of your personal aspirations. Who are you comparing yourself to? Is it a teammate playing ahead of you? Is it the league's best player at your position? Is it an all-state player at your position? Or is it a highly-motivated all-America candidate who lives five states away who has already begun his or her critical self-examination and personal improvement plan? The answer to any of these questions is yours alone, but regardless of your hopes and goals, you must begin with an intelligent assessment of where you are now and where you hope to be in your hoops mind's eye. How do you get there?

Pose the Right Questions to the Right People
First, what questions are relevant to your improvement plan? That may depend on the position you play, but most critical self-examination questions apply universally. For example:

  1. Did I thoroughly understand our team's game plan (offensive and defensive systems as well as the coach's philosophy, instructions and points of emphasis)?
  2. Was I a positive, enthusiastic, communicative player who consistently encouraged, and demonstrated respect for my teammates?
  3. Was I a leader who came to practices and games with a view towards fulfilling the team's mission and becoming the hardest worker on the floor?
  4. Were my skill sets strong enough to successfully implement the team's game plan?
  5. Were the stats most relevant to my position and role on the team beneficial to the team?
  6. Was I one of the best defenders on the team?
  7. Was my decision-making on the court consistent with the team's/coach's game plan?
  8. Was I in optimal physical condition throughout the season?
  9. Was I on the court when the game was on the line?
  10. Did my team achieve its pre-season goals?
  11. Did I achieve my personal pre-season goals?

Second, who should answer these questions? Importantly, you should first wrestle with these issues on your own. If you are being truly honest with yourself, you know better than anyone what areas of your game need improvement. After answering these questions on your own, you should consider sitting down with your coach to discuss his/her perceptions. Many coaches have some type of end of year review; however, even if you have already had such a discussion with your coach, you would be well served to go back to him/her after conducting your own critical self-examination to "surgically strike" those issues which you have identified for your personal improvement and to let your coach know that you are serious about your development as a player.

You should also get feedback from your teammates. There is probably at least one (hopefully, more than one!) insightful teammate whose judgment and candor you value. Be creative; why not ask that teammate to play the role of an opposing coach who will face your team in the next game. Have your teammate prepare a scouting report on you. What is the "book" on your game? Ask your teammate to be as specific as possible and to include the good, the bad, and perhaps, the ugly. Make clear that you expect, and will respect, his/her honest assessment.

Seeking honest feedback on your season takes guts and commitment, but once you've done it, you'll be glad that you did. Now, you are ready the next step: a hard, smart look at the objective data that informs your critical self-examination.

Goto: Part II of The Season in Review: Gathering and Applying the Facts.


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