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Determining What to Evaluate

This is an excerpt from Coaching Better Every Season by Wade Gilbert.

The first consideration in creating an effective evaluation plan is to identify the right things to evaluate. At minimum all program evaluation systems should include tools for measuring athlete development. As highly respected and Super Bowl champion football coach Tony Dungy once remarked, "The true measure of a coach, or anyone in a leadership role for that matter, is how they help those around them grow."


Besides athlete development, other evaluation priorities will be dictated by the setting in which a coach works. For example, when coaching in a school-based setting, athlete academic performance and student-athlete eligibility will be important to include in the program evaluation system. Useful, high-quality evaluation requires time and effort, so setting aside some time in the preseason to decide what will be evaluated at the end of the season is a wise investment that will pay valuable dividends.


National and conference college ice hockey Coach of the Year Guy Gadowsky has prepared a list of evaluation categories he uses to assess the quality of his program at the end of each season (see figure 10.1). Notice that his list includes not only the usual team and individual performance statistics that make up most evaluations but also program philosophy, personnel, practices, team environment, and academic performance.


The second consideration when designing an effective program evaluation system is to ensure that evaluation information is collected from all key program stakeholders. At minimum, coach self-evaluations should always be supplemented with feedback from members of the coaching staff and athletes. This method is the only way to ensure a balanced and comprehensive approach to making evaluation decisions. Program feedback from athletes who make up leadership councils and senior or departing athletes in particular can provide helpful insights on how to improve a program.

Learn more about Coaching Better Every Season.