Exploring The Off-Season: Jon Walker, Kristianstad Predators

What is "the off season"? Does it exist in football? 
I think there is a need for an off season. It should be short but it is essential to be able to step away from the game and decompress. As a coach it is very short. I give my players about 6 weeks to recoop from their injuries and get the bodies ready for the long push of the Off-season training program.

What are the main goals coaches work towards during this time? 
The first thing we do is get the calendar set for our off season training program. Next we start working on playbook adjustments and getting our staff set for the next season. While this is going on I am constantly looking to upgrade our talent through import players and finding National players who are interested. 

When do you start looking for imports? What things do you consider when sifting through options? 
I start right after the season is over. It is a lengthy process to find the right guys to fit our needs and the chemistry of our team. The first thing I do is target players who fit a specific need on our team. Second is I have to decide do we go for American Imports or Other Imports to fill each need. 

Once we do that I look for players on Europlayers as well as contact college coaches about players who are intrested in playing in Europe. The #1 requirement when i look at a player is does this player possess the talent to be an impact player in our league. Everyone we bring over needs to be considered the best at their position. After we find a list of players that we think can be that type of player I contact them and I get to know their personalities and learn about their personal history. I want to make sure that who ever we bring over will fit into the personality of our club and will enjoy their time with the Predators.

What things can an import do to increase their chances of gaining a teams interest? 
#1 and most important is have quality film. I will not even consider a player with out seeing plenty of film on them. Next, contact clubs and introduce yourself. Give a detailed playing background and a short personal history. 

What is the worst thing an athlete can do to hurt their chances? 
The biggest thing that can hurt an athletes chances is poor communication and lack of film.

Do you have any interesting off season stories? 
This is only my second off season in Europe. No real noteworthy stories.

Once you have narrowed it down, what factors go into furthering your selection process? 
Contract negotiations come into play. As well as a players personality and whether or not he is a good fit for our team chemistry. Anyone we bring over has to have a great work ethic and be willing to put in extra work to be a leader by example for the national players. We do not want someone who is just there for a vacation.

What type of team building events do you do between seasons? 
We have team training sessions where we are in the gym lifting weights as a team. We will also do a camp where the entire team will go to an off sight location along with a couple other clubs in Europe and we practice and scrimmage together. At night we do different team building activities to build camaraderie.

Do you have any advice to players about how to approach their own off-season and recruiting seasons? 
I tell players never to worry about how much they weigh. Just get as strong and as fast as possible and the weight will come. For recruiting... again Film Film Film!

Lance Kriesien
Mia Bajin
TAG