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Post-Game Interaction

By Dr. David Hoch, CMAA, CIC

The game ends and the players from both teams line up to shake hands. After this brief important formality, everyone heads to the locker room or team bench. Assuming that the athletes played hard, they are tired. At the very least, both the players and coaches are probably emotionally drained.

Traditionally, the coach then begins his post-game talk. This is the time to summarize the execution and effort displayed and remind players of the time for the next practice session. Sometimes frustration may creep in and this meeting drags on seemingly forever. What should be discussed and how long should these meetings last?

Whether the game resulted in a win or loss and considering all the associated factors, post-game meetings should be very concise. Why? At this point, the kids aren’t going to assimilate much in terms of details or extensive corrections. They may even misinterpret the overall message, intent, and tone. In addition to keeping it brief and simple, the following are some suggestions and considerations:

•  Regardless of the outcome, try to be positive when addressing your team. Unlike in the professional ranks, you can’t cut or put your players on waivers and they will be with you for the season. Therefore, maintaining a good relationship is critical even if you are upset with the final score and how the team played.

•  Save the major critiques and corrections until the next practice session. This is the appropriate time to address mistakes, and to work on improving technique and execution. Also by waiting until the following day or after the weekend, emotions should have subsided and a calmer, more rational approach can be taken.

•  Choose your words carefully and this is especially important if you are upset about the outcome of the game. There is no place in education-based athletics for foul or inappropriate language regardless of the score or the number of mistakes made during the contest. As a coach, you are an educator and this means always addressing your student-athletes with respect.

•  At away games, get your team on the bus as soon as possible after the conclusion of the game. This step should eliminate many potential problems and is also an important consideration to keep the costs down. Why? Bus costs are based upon two factors--time involved and distance. Therefore, anything that you can do to reduce the time will save dollars and your athletic administrator will appreciate it.

Young people know when they haven’t played well. While you should make a quick summary after the game, student-athletes also need to be able to lean on you for support and reassurance. “We’re going to go back to work tomorrow and just keep trying to get better. Let’s get ready for our next opponent!”


David Hoch retired in 2010 after a 41-year career as a high school athletic director and coach.  In 2009, Dr. Hoch was honored as the Eastern District Athletic Director of the Year by the Nastional Association for Sport and Physical Education.  He was also presented with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association Distinguished Service Award, and in 2000 he was named the Maryland State Athletic Director Association's Athletic Director of the Year.  Dr. Hoch has authored over 460 professional articles and made more than 70 presentations around the country.

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