Friday, September 7, 2012

Athletics: Year-Round Practice?

As a coach, do you favor a one-sport athlete who is dedicated to the sport during the pre-season, season, and off-season?   Or do you favor a multi-dimensional athlete who brings a wealth of experience and training techniques to sports that are currently in-season? 

Many state high school associations have created strict regulations regarding out-of-season practice sessions for interscholastic sports.  The regulations were established to address a two-fold issue:  (1) to prevent coaches from manipulating or pressuring young students to become one-sport athletes and (2) to 'level the playing field' so that athletic programs, regardless of size or geographical location, would not gain an unfair advantage over other schools in the state.

Allowing athletic programs to practice year-round is a hot topic in the world of sports. Should state high school associations allow out-of-season practice sessions for interscholastic sports?  Your thoughts and opinions are valued; please take a moment to reflect on the issue. 


  1. Without a doubt, high schools coaches and administrators should allow off-season training sessions. Most of high school athletes compete in more than one sport (therefore training year-round) in the first place in order to not just specialize in one sport, but to broaden their opportunity to be able to experiment and find which sport they excel at to potentially take themselves to the college level. However, for the athletes that do specialize in one sport, they need to develop and refine their skills year round in order to prepare their minds and bodies for the upcoming season. The saying “your season starts in the off-season” is very true to an athlete. It takes time to develop strength, power, and skills in order to be better for competition. So if the high school associations prevent this kind of training from happening, then they are doing a disservice to those who are serious about their athletic career because they lose the opportunity to become better. Not to mention, it keeps high school students busy and allows them to create more goals and develop into better, healthier people.

  2. It is becoming more prominent for young athletes to be an all around athlete. The only sport that is technically all year round is football. From an athletic trainer point of view I think that training in the weight room or conditioning in off season to prepare for the next season is a good idea. However, for the athletes that are just turning 13 and have been in club and competitive ball for a few years prior to coming to high school increases the chance for chronic and traumatic injuries. In my experience I have seen incoming freshman come to me with injuries that you should not have until you are in college competition. This will go into their long term life and will effect their everyday activities for the rest of their lives. In conclusion, I find that it is a good idea for the athlete to either perform off season training or compete in a second sport to stay in shape rather than staying competitive all year long plus having to do training on top of it. Keep our yound athletes healthy so by the time they get to higher level play they do not have to worry about serious and traumatic injuries. They should be able to play without worries at the beginning of their college career.

  3. A native of Scotland, I have a much different athletic experience as compared to my American friends. As a Scottish football player (soccer), the use of scholarships through sports was non-existent at the public school and collegiate level. It was considered a great privilege to be an athlete at any level, but it differed greatly from those who play sports in America. As athletes, we trained and practiced without any regulations. It was fairly simple, if you wanted to improve then you had to practice often and hard.
    Coaching an athlete that is totally committed and focused to one sport and applying all of their potential and energy in one direction is my preference. This may be a selfish rationale, but I believe it is necessary to be a successful rationale needed to coach and build champions. Athletes that have one goal in mind and are totally focused on improving in that one specific area is crucial to coaching champions who are dedicated in their application and attitude.
    I think it would be more rewarding for an athlete to devote themselves to one sport than to participate at many sports. Their skill level will improve through the time that they dedicate to practice and competition. Even during off-season, an athlete that is totally committed to one sport will have that sport on their mind thus creating a positive environment for their training regime.
    Concerning equity in sports, I agree that there has to be a set of rules which makes it fair for all schools to have a chance at success. However one should be able to practice, train and prepare any time. Is this really an area that needs restrictions and limitations on how much or little to practice? Let us keep our players active; athletes should play and practice for enjoyment without limitations which state “you can practice on this day but not on this day”.
    I never experienced practice limitations during my school days in Scotland. In my opinion, if you wish to get better then you should simply practice and train hard!

  4. When it comes to the ever popular question of whether or not state high school associations should allow out-of-season practice sessions for interscholastic sports, I personally believe there are many pros and cons to both sides of the argument. There are valid arguments that can be made for either side, which is why the topic is so popular.
    As a coach, having a player who is dedicated to the sport you coach year-round is always a welcomed thought and preferred circumstance. However, as a coach I think you have to put selfishness away and look at the pressure that it can create for the athlete. Especially in Texas, where certain sports are king; For example, if there were year round practice sessions for football and that is the sport the school takes very seriously and has pride in, then a student that has a passion for baseball would feel pressure to choose one or the other. I think making a student at the high-school age feel pressure to choose between sports is a disservice and is particularly the leading factor as to why the rule is the way it is.
    I also feel strongly that by not having year round practice sessions that you place an athlete’s outcome into their own hands. By doing so, the athlete will get out of their careers what they put into it. They will learn and see the value of hard work and self-dedication play out when they show up to practice and work- out and push themselves and their teammates on their own time rather than being called to do so by mandatory practice. Valuable lessons can be learned when an athlete pushes themselves when nobody is watching, and those lessons learned will carry on throughout life and be very beneficial.
    As a coach, you would love to be able to have practice year round and monitor your athletes and determine everything for them, but I think you can put pressure as well as burn players out by doing so. I feel there is more to gain for the athlete by not having year round practices, and more potential for them to learn lessons that will last a lifetime by seeing their own determination and hard work pay dividends.