Similar to style of play, or anything coaching; every program has their own approach to handling exit meetings.
Following the last game of the season with time built in between to decompress, the staff will begin scheduling exit meetings in the Spring. For underclassmen, it is an opportunity to identify a progression plan between the off-season and pre-season. The athletes graduating or moving on from the program share their experiences and address how we can help them prepare for the future. As coaches, we use these interactions to continue shaping program identity and prepare an action plan to support everyone moving forward.
Under normal circumstances, the majority of these conversations are held face-to-face. My only rule, and this is really in effect for any individual meeting: always have another staff member present.
This can be helpful for a few reasons:
- Not everyone at the end of the season is going to be particularly happy with how things may have unfolded throughout the year. Having support staff present can provide an alternative perspective, or reinforce a message with a different voice.
- It is a great opportunity for developing your staff. Put them in situations to ask questions, or lead conversations throughout the meeting.
- Have a witness. This is primarily for high school coaches, or at the grassroots level. In today’s environment, it is best to operate with the expectation that every interaction can be recorded. And if for any reason there is a concern of what is or isn’t going to be said, then having a witness helps likely mitigate the potential for confrontation, in addition to having someone corroborate the content/context of any conversation.
Our objective is to have a conversation, not a Q&A. It doesn’t always work out this way because personalities differ, and that is fine. This is part of why it is beneficial to have an assistant coach present. They can help stimulate side conversations or other chit-chat to support a comfortable environment for the student-athletes to be themselves.
If you haven’t had a chance to catch on Twitter, our objectives are to cover 3 particular talking points within any exit meeting: community – character – court.
Typical Questions Asked:
- How’s school been?
- What was your biggest takeaway from the season?
- What kept you most accountable throughout the year?
- What are you most focused on heading into the end of the school year?
- Basketball: Top two priorities (i.e. shooting, strength, etc.)
- School / Graduation: Applications (i.e. job or graduate school)
- Work or Other: Talk time-management or commitments
- Sandwich some feedback (positive reflection – constructive critique – next opportunity)
That is pretty much it. Keep the conversation light, yet productive, not keeping anyone beyond 20-30 minutes, but long enough to capture relevant information for our staff to absorb. With only 3 to 5 questions we hope to extract subjective, yet genuine responses on their academic standing, a recap from the season, and what the near future looks like on and off the court.
Some are ready to leave motivated. Others may have just vented a bit. But, before anyone walks out the door we let them know we stay connected and they are appreciated. Our staff will give them either a hug or a handshake, and thank them for their time.