Marty Clark became assistant coach at the Australian Institute for Sport in 1995. Since 2001 he is also assistant coach of the Australian Junior National team, and this year he became Head Coach at the Australian Institute for Sport.
The Australian Institute of Sport Men’s Basketball is a residential program for 12 junior men identified with the potential to develop the mental, physical and basketball skills necessary to compete at both the international and national league levels.
The practice of goal setting is an integral part of the development of these individuals. The majority of the players are leaving a home environment where they practice 2-4 times a week into a program where they practice 2-3 times a day. Whilst at home one below standard practice means a significant opportunity to improve has been lost, in this setting the perception the player may have is one bad practice is ok as there is another practice that day. However this can quickly lead to another poor practice and then a habit of poor practices is formed, the opportunity to move forward is then restricted. The use of goals, for both the individual and team, provide a focus for each and every session. Player’s progression is readily tracked by referring to their individual goals. This progress is measured in each player’s ability to transfer skills acquired from 1 on 0, 1 on 1, breakdown drill, scrimmages and ultimately the game.
THE FOLLOWING ARE DIFFERENT WAYS GOAL SETTING IS USED AT THE AIS
- Type of people we want our players to become - a list of character traits that we as coaches want to see in our athletes. These help to define the group that we want to become over the year ahead. Usually set at a pre-season team-building camp, the themes primarily relate to establishment of a culture of hard work, commitment, communication and camaraderie.
- Team Themes - 4 or 5 areas of the game that will be the cornerstones of our team play and will not be compromised during practice or games.
- Theme for the Week - each week a “theme for the week” is chosen. These usually relate to the Team Themes, but may be an attitude/mentality issue or a technical aspect that the coaches have identified as requiring extra work/emphasis on.
- Player Diary - each player is issued with a diary that includes the above items plus:
A. Long Term Goals Planner: Players list their ultimate basketball goal, their basketball and life/school/work goals for this year, next year, three years time and five years time. Many young players do not plan ahead and therefore have no real focus on what they are striving to achieve, consequently practice sessions lack focus for the individual.
B. Monthly Player Contracts: Each month the players meet individually with coaching staff and evaluate their past month and set goals for the coming month. Goals are set for offense, defense, general play, physical development and school/work. The player appraises their previous month’s goals on a scale from 1-6 as does the coach. Any discrepancy is discussed. The scale ratings are:
1. Skill cannot be performed
2.Skill can be performed 1 on 0
3. Skill can be done in breakdown situation
4. Skill is shown in scrimmage situation
5. Skill is performed successfully in game situations
6. Skill can be done consistently at a high level
General comments and notes, and technical analysis are also kept for future reference.
C. Daily Practice and Individual Evaluations: This sheet has a theme for the week (set by coaches), and an offensive, defensive and general play goal (set by the player). At the end of each day the player notes things they did well, things they need to improve and rates their effort for that day’s session/s. The players must have their diaries open on the courtside seating before and during practice and the coaching staff can check their analysis from the day before and their goals for that week. The coaches can then reinforce the player’s focus during training as well as provide technical assistance in working on that goal. The players will often refer to their monthly goals when setting their weekly goal and/or the previous week/game performance.
D. Game Targets: The group compete as a team in the East Conference of the SEABL ABA - the 2nd tier national league. Over the course of a few years a number of key factors have emerged if we are going to compete in a men’s league teams given that we are often giving away extensive experience. These targets include restricting turnovers, opposition shooting percentages and offensive rebounds as well as creating points in transition, inside and off second shots.
E. Game Plan and Post-Game Analysis: For each game the coaches set a game plan, divided into the areas of offense, defense and general play, each area having 2 or 3 key points related to the theme for the week, our offensive and defensive philosophies, and the oppositions strengths and weaknesses. The coaches evaluated each of the areas of the game plan and present feedback and video footage both to the team and to individuals the following day. Each player also completes a post-game analysis from both a team and an individual perspective. They note their contribution and things they can improve on next game, also rating their effort and level of satisfaction with achieving their individual goals.
- One individual session each week is driven by the player. The player can choose the specific area of their game they want to work on and practice one to one with a coach. This encourages the players to think about what they need to work on and how they are to achieve the goals they have set for the month.
- Video analysis. Game and practice sessions are evaluated. Each practice begins with a short video presentation usually of the previous practice or game. Early in the week a package is put together and shown to the players of things that we struggled with in the game. Players are also shown clips that relate directly to their individual goals. Prior to our next game a highlights package is shown of things we did well as a group and players achieving their goals so they approach the game with positive thoughts and a clear mental picture of things they have done well.
- The team has access to a sports psychologist who provides support to the coaches through private consultations which may cover a wide spectrum of topics of which goal-setting is regularly included. The team also has group sessions in team building, bonding, goal setting amongst other topics.
- Because of the nature of the environment, emphasis is placed on the holistic development of athletes. Goals are set for their school or work, expectations in the living area and their physical development; whether it be strength or power gains, reducing skinfolds or improving speed, agility or endurance. Player’s school and/or employment is monitored by the Institute’s Athlete Career and Education staff, coaching staff and parents. As can be seen the use of goals is extensive in our program. Given the access we have athletes it is possible to do this and evaluate them appropriately.
Whilst a system such as this is not necessarily required, or appropriate with each team, the concept is invaluable in developing players and keeping them focused and motivated to achieve the goals.