5 Steps to Keeping Players Engaged in the Offseason

By Dan Guttenplan, FNF Coaches Managing Editor

Every coach is faced with the offseason balancing act of monitoring players while also giving them space to explore other interests. A coach must empower players so they are accountable outside of football season.

Gregory A. Cranmer, Ph. D., is the assistant professor of sport communication at Clemson University. He offers five recommendations to coaches who are looking to keep their players engaged during the offseason.

Set Expectations. “If you have an offseason program that you want the players to participate in, it has to be explicitly expressed. Maybe draft a contract. Have a meeting to go over those expectations.”

Develop a Culture. “Develop the type of culture that will promote developmental season participation. It’s a culture that embraces process rather than outcome. It’s more about the effort they put in and refining skills rather than focusing on the final score.”

Lead By Example. “If you expect a commitment and participation, you need to show the same commitment to their development as well. Check in with observations, but also have other players check in, so it’s not one person expressing interest over and over again.”

Develop an Enriching Environment. “Athletes want to be challenged. Even though there are perceptions of entitlement, they want to refine their skills. The developmental season is a period of time when they expect it to occur and relish it. That’s the natural time to focus on individual task mastery. They want to develop more specified skill sets and hit individual goals.”

Inspire Players to Be Intrinsically Motivated. “Realistically, it won’t happen for everyone. Some players are motivated by something in the environment like rewards. For those players, build in a reward system. It could be a point system for how many lifting sessions or developmental workouts they go to. Give them a tangible representation of the accomplishment. It can be an offseason award like a t-shirt or rubber bracelet with a team slogan or logo on it.”

Do you have a thought about this article that you would like to share? If you do, email managing editor Dan Guttenplan at dguttenplan@ae-engine.com. Tweet us @fnfcoaches.