Pitchin' with Pritch: Work during the summer

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School is out and now it is time for the work to begin. The time put in now by athletes will have a direct effect, in most cases, on playing time next year in whatever athletic programs a student will choose to participate. 

There are lots of things going on in an athlete’s life, but in order to get more skilled at your craft, you have to make yourself better, especially in the areas in which you know you have problems. 

As a former coach, I can remember how I would hear people say I was really lucky because, as a teacher, I had all summer off. I also heard that about Christmas break, how we had all those days out of school. 

Talk to any teacher or coach, and you will probably get an earful of things that are done during “vacation time.” Plus, if you coach basketball, you might have even more to do. I also realize the time spent in Holiday tournaments and practice is self-inflicted because you can choose to not do that. 

In basketball, part of the situation is if most or all of your opponents are going to Holiday tournaments, and you don’t for whatever reason, I always felt I was cheating my team from an opportunity to improve as individuals and as a team. 

Excuse me for rambling off the subject of “summer work,” but it all goes hand-in-hand. You take the entire summer off from working on your skills or you take over a week off during the season, you will have to at some time during the season meet up with all those individuals and teams that worked through those times and it is very probable they will defeat you. 

Back to summer work, I always said one reason our basketball program was pretty decent is that in the summer the lights at the park were on pretty late each night because there always seemed to be a number of our players playing pick-up games or just shooting. 

When I spoke at clinics, I always referred to that portion of our program as the “Park Program.” The other part of the park program was that former players who came back to Grant in the summer would often go pick up high school kids and bring them to the park to play. 

I always chalked some of that up to Plainsmen Pride. I know there are still opportunities for athletes to go to summer team camps and that is good, but again, in my opinion, you sometimes can overdo the team camp situation because sometimes you don’t always work on your weak points at a team camp. 

The will to win takes over and if you went to camp not being able to dribble very well with your non-dominate hand, you always used your strong hand and you never improved where the skills were the weakest. I still also think if you have the equipment at home, a ball and basket, you can do a lot to help yourself get better. 

Back in the days when I was in high school, we didn’t go to team camps, or open gym, or anything as a team. I don’t even know what the rules were in those days. I just know we had a basket nailed up and lights so I did not have any reasons not to practice on my shooting. 

I wasn’t the greatest basketball player in high school, but I started on the varsity all four years of high school and I could score. I was lucky from the standpoint that we only had about 75 kids in high school and I could score, but I worked hard on that skill. I wasn’t the best shooter in my family because my sister averaged over 30 points a game in high school.

This article is a little all over the topic, but what it boils now to, is if you sit all summer, you’re probably going to get to sit a bunch more when your sport is in season. 

Have a great summer and if I am able, I will try this again next year.

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