A great way to open the lines of communication and also determine expectations and goals for each player is through interviews. For new incoming players it is a way for them to open up more than they did during recruiting or the try-out stages. Here are 3 points of emphasis for a productive player interview.
#1 Players Have to Be Honest With Themselves
Start every interview by asking the player to describe themselves to you as if you have never seen them play or met before. Do this with your returning seniors as well as an incoming freshman.You'll learn about their family situations. You'll learn about their values.
Explain to the players that you are listening to how they describe themselves and together you will discuss how you see them. This forces them to realize and verbalize their weaknesses. You'll be surprised how some players feel about themselves. Some will be extremely hard on themselves while some will be delusional about their abilities. By Having Players speak about themselves you as a Coach will know better the mentality you are dealing with.
#2 Coaches Have to Let Expectations and Roles be Defined
After the Player has described himself, start with their weaknesses. Don't make it personal by saying " I told you this before" or "If you'd listened to me last year" but keep it very non-personalized. If the kid can't go left, say "You struggle going left." Be honest. Let them know what is keeping them from their potential. Be Honest. End your evaluation with their strengths. This is suppose to be a building experience. Let the last thing they hear from you be positive about them.
#3 Build a Plan for Personal Growth
Discuss what this player needs to improve, regardless if it's your All-American or the player who sits all season. Be honest, but most importantly be practical. If a player needs to lose weight, start with two pounds a week, don't slam a kid with dropping 30 pounds. Make it attainable but getting the same result. This is also a great time to talk about how the player wants to be coached. If he wants you on his tail, do it. Remind him of that when you do and he doesn't take it well. Find a plan that the player can do, you can monitor and both will be able to see the results.
I hope this helps you with your pre-season planning and gives you a plan for your player development.