So you’ve just got home after a great few days at a conference. You met some great people and got more information than you could have even hoped for. Now what? How can you make sure that you keep the positive momentum rolling and don’t forget all you’ve learned? This is a question I recently asked myself and here is what I’ve come up with as the most effective way to ensure you get the most of your conference experience and don’t allow all those connections and knowledge to disappear to a shelf in a notebook.
Type Up Notes
The first thing you need to do is retype your notes. I suggest doing this as soon as you get home from the conference. This will allow you to review all your notes while it’s fresh in your mind. If you are like me some of your notes are in short hand and the longer you wait to retype it the more likely you are to forget what you meant by that short hand. All those new plays you got draw them out using FastDraw. If you don’t have FastDraw, just draw them back out by hand in a more legible form. By doing this you will be getting the material in many different ways. You will have heard it, wrote it down once, read it, and wrote it down again for 4 exposures to the material. With each exposure you are more likely to remember it.
After typing it all up, read back through it and create a Top 10. The ten most important nuggets you got from the conference, or the ten things you most want to use going forward. Top 10 lists are easy to remember and are also very easy to share.
Reach Out to People You Met
The next step is to reach out to all the amazing people you met at the conference. Everyone has made connections at the conference, whether it be with the presenters or just other coaches. It is important to continue to cultivate those relationships. Like a fresh seed planted in the ground if you don’t water it, it’ll never grow.
For presenters you connected, I suggest a simple email thanking them for their time, and reminding them about whatever you talked about. Remember these individuals likely spoke with hundreds of people over the course of the weekend if you don’t reach out quickly and are specific about what you chatted about they may not remember you. From there you can continue on the path of working with the presenter going forward.
With the other coaches you met, send them a message including your conference notes. Ask them to take a look perhaps ask if they could share any notes they have. You are helping them by sharing your notes and top 10 and you are further fostering that relationship. I would also consider creating a coaches accountability circle with this group. Everyone shares the actions they plan on taking and then you can check in regularly going forward to see how everyone is doing. This will also give you a group to bounce ideas off of if you are having trouble with implementing something from the conference. It is also good to get people outside of your immediate circle to help hold you accountable. Those closest sometimes are blinded to the truth and someone on the outside is much more likely to be objective with you.
Schedule meeting with important parties to share your knowledge
Now that you’ve got your notes organized, gotten notes from other coaches, and come to a plan it’s time to bring in the parties who will be involved with your changes. This may include your other coaches, the administration of your school, parents and players. Getting all these parties involved early in the process and getting feedback will help strengthen any changes you do make. This is especially true if you are trying to change the overall culture. It is important to get buy in from all these parties as dissent from any one could ground your initiatives before they even take off.
Add all that up and you’ll have had at least 10 exposures to the material within the first few weeks of learning it. Hearing it, writing it down, reading it, rewriting it, scanning it and creating top 10, sharing it with connections made, sharing it with your staff, administration, parents, and players. This ensures that the information becomes ingrained in you and doesn’t get lost.
Develop a Final Plan
After going through all those meetings with the parties involved now it’s time to develop a final plan. What action steps are you going to take and when are you going to take it. Write all these down and once again share them with all involved. Got new plays or offense you are going to adopt? Send it out to players to start reviewing over summer to get a jump on it before the season starts. Going to impart some new team rules to change the culture? Let the parties know now so they aren’t surprised when the season begins. This will be your road map to success.
Have any other suggestions? Please reach out and share with me. Also if you are interested in being a part of a coaching accountability circle let me know. I’d love to work with as many other coaches as I can to make each other better.
State championship winning basketball coach, Chris Woodside, shares his journey of going from varsity boys coach, to becoming a men's college coach, to currently coaching girls varsity basketball as well as life lessons learned on + off the court.