The “Optional” Off-Season Conditioning And How It Should Be Handled

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The “Optional” Off-Season Conditioning And How It Should Be Handled

“Less than 5% of high school football players go through all of their off-season workouts.  Less than 5% of high school football players play at the collegiate level.”

I saw that quote somewhere and wondered if someone actually knew that stat or just made it up.  But, it sounded pretty legit to me.

All of my high school athletes are having to contend with off-season conditioning.  You know the “optional” (but possibly not optional) workouts they have to do in the summer to get ready for the upcoming fall season.

If you don’t understand why coaches do these workouts during the summer, then let me share a few reasons why:

  • Sports has been taken to an all new level of seriousness and in some sports their jobs might be on the line.
  • Kids have proven in the past that they are unreliable about putting in the type of work they need to do in the off-season to have it pay off when the regular season arrives.
  • Conditioning and working out together is a good way to develop the type of team bonding and comradery that can possibly help a team to a championship season.

I have a different approach to these “optional” conditioning workouts.  I don’t know if it could work with all sports teams, but it is definitely something to consider.  You want to get the most out of your sport conditioning then consider these potential guidelines:

  • If it is truly optional then make it optional. Otherwise call it mandatory and be done with it.
  • Personally, I would make them optional. I think you can develop your team and core talent better that way.  If you make it mandatory, then you are hoping the people that don’t want to be there will convert.  You are hoping that their negativity will not affect the other people.  If you make it optional, then you know the people that are there working out for you WANT to be there.  I think that power of positivity can attract more positive people that WANT to be there than making it mandatory and expecting those people to WANT to be there.
  • Set up the times for lifting and/or conditioning. Let them know when to be there, but let them know what you expect from them is to be strong, fast, and in shape when the season starts.  If they feel they can do it better on their own or with some personal speed/strength coach, so be it.
  • There won’t be any penalties for missing the optional conditionings. The penalty will be on them.  Meaning, they won’t be as in shape so they may or may not be able to do what is necessary of them in practice to make an impressive showing for the coaches.  They are rolling the dice if they don’t show up in shape.

I feel if you do it this way and get them to buy in on their own, they will be more invested when the end result happens.  You get your better athletes to buy in and optionally come to these things, then the rest of the team will follow and you might have something after that.

Maybe it wouldn’t work for all teams and maybe you need to focus on the high school teams to do this, but it might be worth a try.  You can certainly learn quick which athletes you can and can NOT count on.

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