ADs, Use the Quiet of Summer to Set Yourself Up For a Successful Fall Sports Season

Jun 6, 2019 9:07:59 AM / by Garland Allen & Dr. Marianne Engle


When the fall sports season starts, every coach and athletic director wants to hit the ground running. While there is never really an off-season for coaching, summer offers a great opportunity to refocus your efforts, define new ways to make improvements, and do your best to identify opportunities to take your teams and athletes to the next level.

Coaches and ADs face a lot of hurdles all year long — budget constraints, confrontational parents, constant interruptions — and summer is your chance to do a great deal of the planning, organization, goal-setting, and other important tasks that can’t be as easily tackled during the school year.

Up next are three strategies you can use to regain your sanity after a busy year and set your coaches and players up for real growth and development come next season.


Highlight Reel: Keep reading for more about how these three strategies can help you use the summer months to prep for your most successful season ever.

  1. Lead by example and give yourself time to recover and recharge.
  2. Develop your team and players’ targets and goals for the upcoming season using the SMART goal model.
  3. Share inCourage video tools to empower your coaches to help their athletes improve, on and off the court.



The families of coaches and ADs often take a backseat when the season is in full swing, so make sure to put your family first in the off-season. And it goes without saying how overworked, overstretched and under-resourced many ADs may feel by the end of the school year. Rather than keeping up the grind, and possibly burning out, take some time to recharge your batteries. Spend some quality time with your family, binge watch some television shows, indulge in some hobbies like fishing or golf. 

Lead by example and give yourself time to recover and recharge — your players need that mental and physical break, too. Soon you’ll have the energy and renewed focus you need to plan for the season — and year — ahead.


Once you’ve recharged your personal batteries, it’s time to think about your goals for the upcoming season. But before you can look forward, you need to look back and review last season’s goals: what worked, what didn’t, and what can be improved. Evaluate and let those lessons help guide you forward.

One way to develop your team and players’ targets and goals for the upcoming season is to use the SMART goal model. SMART goal setting brings structure to your goals and targets, and creates clear pathways towards success.

The SMART model:

  • Specific, not vague
  • Measurable, use numbers to see achievement
  • Attainable, able to reach the goal
  • Realistic, yet challenging for the player or team
  • Timed, with a clear duration and deadline

Learn how to use the SMART Goal Model to help your athletes assess their strengths and weaknesses as well as track their performance and improvement. Our resource section includes a template you can download and use to write Smart Goals.


Never lose sight of the fact that the role of a coach extends well beyond preparing athletes for games: the values your athletes learn under your watch will remain with them for a lifetime. Coaches not only coach a sport, and they also reach and teach kids — and one of the best ways to be a great coach is to be a great teacher. As an AD, you’re a coach of coaches and here’s another way you can lead by example.

Empower your coaches to help their athletes improve on and off the court. The off-season provides an opportunity to find articles, videos -- like Creating A Success Mindset For Coaches, below -- and books that will help your athletes become people who make themselves better, their team better, and the game better.



Utilize the free inCourage resources — including the downloadable Becoming Goal & Success Based Educators playbook, a comprehensive guide to helping coaches and youth athletes make and meet goals — to help give your athletes the right direction. Together we can improve the culture of youth sports.


Download the inCourage Becoming Goal & Success Based Educators playbook.

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Thanks to Dr. Marianne Engle, inCourage team member, award-winning clinical psychologist and expert in youth sports psychology, for contributing to this blog and to the development of the Creating A Success Mindset series of videos.

Topics: coaches, athletic directors

Garland Allen & Dr. Marianne Engle

Written by Garland Allen & Dr. Marianne Engle

GARLAND ALLEN is an educator who served as Athletic Director, coach of Basketball, Football and Track & Field, for more than 35 years in public education. Garland spent more than 20 years as a Director of Athletics in Greenwich, CT and Ridgewood, NJ. He also spent eight years as the Director of Wellness for the Ridgewood Public School District. He currently serves on the Advisory Board for the NYU School of Professional Studies Sports and Society program, where he is actively engaged in research and programming on issues related to youth sports. MARIANNE ENGLE, Ph.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and a sports psychologist. Her clients have included professional athletes and teams from the NBA, PGA, and the America’s Cup sailing race in addition to elite athletes in ice skating, baseball, tennis, soccer, water polo, squash, dressage, volleyball, etc. Marianne has written a sports psychology program for youth athletes and coaches to enhance commitment, physical and mental skill building, and group dynamics. She is currently on the faculty of the NYU Langone Medical School. She has held faculty appointments at Harvard, MIT, and UCSD in addition to being a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Sport and Society. She is a board member of the NYU Sport and Society program.