Just like that, we are reporting once again. It seems like the summer break flew by, and here we are at the start of a new school year.
This is a time where the schedule becomes more restrictive for student-athletes and the training periodization changes. Many athletes go into a training camp for a fall sport while others still have to scale back offseason for winter and spring sports.
Even the weather will start changing. Here in Texas, we finally saw our streak of 100º days end and are even getting some rain. It’s a welcome treat, but just stay safe when lightning comes into play.
As the grind of a new school year starts, I want to offer some things that will help you stay the course and keep your kids on the right path. Here are four tips for keeping the momentum from a great summer offseason.
The school year program is obviously different from summer, but properly executed, you can still make gains. Incremental gains, maybe, but gains nonetheless.
If in season, don’t stop training. Too many coaches stop training during the season. It may be maintenance training, but I subscribe to the principle of accumulation. Anything is bigger than zero, and that anything, even a little bit, accumulates into progress.
Something that goes along with this is determining who are your front-line starters and who are your “developmental” guys and gals. Developmental doesn’t mean they aren’t going to get opportunities. On the contrary, it goes back to putting them in a position to be successful when they do get opportunity.
The front-line starters simply need to be fresher for important competition in season. It’s not necessarily all gas and no brakes for the “bench” players and it’s not all brakes and no gas for the starters. Just adapt the program for when it matters.
Those two months in the summer simply can’t be the only time you get stronger and faster anyways, regardless of when your competition season is. I know some sports like basketball and tennis can feel year-round. Don’t use that as an excuse to spend nine-or-so months neglecting training.
I know resources must be shared during the school year and some sports may get higher priority than others, so take what you can get. If it’s once a week in the weight room, work with what you got to work with.
I don’t want to say it’s never better, but it rarely is ever better. This is in so many areas, like say, one more french fry or one more episode on Netflix.
As a football player or even coach, I hated to hear “one more play.” That usually meant you were going to be there awhile because the success of one more play was 50/50 at best.
In training, it can get you hurt. This goes back to the principle of accumulation. Find a routine, but get used to regular irregularity. If your training bounces around different days during the week, at the end of the month, you will still end up with a sufficient amount of training.
A practical application is when you feel like you have to “make up” for too much. So, you start increasing sets and reps arbitrarily. If you make the observation that one more may have been reasonable, still, patiently hold off and add it to the next set with appropriate load adjustments.
Stress is cumulative. Now that class load and homework must be accounted for, be wise with your time with your athletes. You gotta plan the work and work the plan. You will have interruptions in everything once in a while, but you must learn that those are temporary. Get back on schedule ASAP.
Even a sleep schedule must be more disciplined. I’m fully aware how late kids will stay up during the summer knowing they can sleep in. The school year demands a more strict sleep schedule. Sleep will always be the most effective and cheapest training aid available.
Awareness of the schedule in general should be easy. Not only are you accounting for competition days, you need to anticipate holidays and the school schedule like inservice days. Look ahead to those off days at school. In North Texas, we even have a fair day. God Bless Big Tex.
Learn as you go what works and doesn’t work. If you want to win, it takes discipline. Sometimes you can be your greatest opponent.
Back off the loads by 10-15% and reload. Many programs already do this–good! But if not, add it in each change of season.
The best ability is availability when competition begins. To stay healthy, you need to be careful to not overtrain. The difficult thing about overtraining is sometimes you don’t know you’re guilty of it until it’s too late. Fresh is best. You stay fresh by unloading at the right times.
Trust the process. As long as kids are participating each and every day, they will see results.
Pulling back on intensity or load can often be as much of a mental reprieve as anything. Never underestimate the psychology of training and sports. Burnout is a real thing we see in youth sports.
School sports and club sports can be a healthy part of kids' lives. Organized team activities strengthen relationships and can endorse positive lifestyle habits. At the same time, coaches, we need to encourage our kids to work hard and have some grit.
Student-athletes need good support around them to help them stay the course. A famous boxer once said, “You hang out with those coconuts, you get nowhere…you hang out with yo-yo people, you get yo-yo friends.” My man, Rocky. Encourage your kids to be around like-minded people that will build them up.
A team is a great environment for kids to work toward a shared goal. It’s about the journey as much as it is the destination. In the end, they win together or they lose together. Either way, they learn from their experience.
Let us as parents and coaches do our best to make sure those lessons they learn in the weight room or on the court, track, or field help advance them in life.