My kids play lots of sports. Their favorite sport is always the sport that is currently in season. The challenge they are facing as they continue to play competitive sports into high school is the specialization that is occurring among so many of the athletes. The time spent in the off season working on the other sports gives the player with specialization a great advantage over the multi-sport (especially three sport) athlete. Many coaches, me included, tell their players after the last game of the season that preparation for next season begins tomorrow. The summertime is the time when athletes should be able to develop their talent levels to participate and compete for the next year. It is a time for assessment of current skills and the time to develop a plan for how an athlete will improve those skills so he or she can be measurably better when the next season begins.
This is pretty easy if an athlete plays just one or maybe two sports but can be a real challenge of the athlete plays three. A player can typically make the time to devote to one sport quite easily. An hour a day is not too much to give to doing something that a player loves. When I was young I loved basketball and I would make time to practice each day for as long as I could. I was paranoid that if I did not play every day that I would lose my touch with the basketball and not shoot as well the next time out. Hitting a baseball is much the same. Many players believe they must hit every day in order to a great hitter. I also believe that is true.
The solution we use at our house to help my boys prepare for football, baseball and basketball is as follows. We follow this routine 5 out of 7 days per week. The idea is that football is a sport requiring strength, speed and agility more than anything else. Both of my sons are quarterbacks so throwing and ball handling are important as well. Baseball requires hitting, about 100 swings per day. Basketball requires ball handling and shooting.
We spend the first 30 minutes doing sprint drill at the park up the street. We will do ladder drills at full speed with a 6 second rest between sprints. We start at 40 yards and back, 50 and back, etc on up to 100 yards and back at full speed. We do this for 20 minutes and then close out with a series of short bursts of 30 yards each at full speed. I time them to see that they are getting faster each week.
After sprinting we move to hitting. The batting cage is right at the park so we get our equipment and then get our Heater Pitching Machine operational and take 100 swings each. The Heater will fire a pitch every 10 seconds and will hold 12 balls in the ball rack so we can get through each of them getting 100 swings in 30 minutes. We take pitches outside to the opposite field, we work on hitting inside pitches hard on the pull side and work on the rest being hit with backspin right up the middle. We track how many get hit to the back of the batting cage.
We then move to basketball. I developed a workout that we alternate running every other day. One day we focus primarily on shooting and the next we focus primarily on ball handling and driving moves to the hoop. I will provide that workout in a follow up article.
The boys lift weights every other day with their football program and I think that is enough to help them develop their strength.
That is it! The rest of the day they have to themselves. I never mind what else they do with their day as long as we have completed the daily workout. I know their summer will lead to them being better athletes and they will be able to keep up with the athletes who are specializing in certain sports.