Coaches never stop coaching. Even when the softball season ends, school is out and summer vacation is in full swing, high school coaches from across the country continue to put in valuable working hours.
The summer is not only a time to relax and hit the beach, but also an opportunity to give back to the community through camps, to learn new techniques at clinics and to lead players through offseason workouts. We talked to a few coaches to learn about their summer priorities.
The Bentonville (Ark.) High School Tigers have an open weight room and batting cages for most of the summer, allowing players to take part in an offseason strength-training program.
“The biggest emphasis is the weight room time during the summer,” Bentonville coach Kent Early said. “We need to strength train to avoid injuries and to be able to compete at a higher level. The game is constantly evolving, and we are trying to raise our level of play by producing better athletes to have on the field.”
Bentonville has implemented an Olympic lifting program to build explosiveness and flexibility, and a speed-training program that teaches acceleration, deceleration, lateral movement and changing directions.
“Everything you do as a program should build off each other,” Early said. “All of our fundamentals are building blocks.”
In some states, like Texas, coaches can’t work with their student-athletes during the summer. Some schools host strength and conditioning camps, while others set individual workout plans for the players to do by themselves. The Woodlands (Texas) High School opens its field and cages so players can practice during the summer.
“We strongly encourage our players to attend the speed camp and to maintain the level of conditioning that they are at right now,” Woodlands assistant coach Paula Miller said. “When we return in the fall, they must beat their previous year’s mile time or keep running it until they do. This encourages them to come back in great shape, and most are willing to work out over the summer to make sure this happens.”
Many coaches work at camps, host camps or take their teams to camps during the summer.
Shannon Sullivan, coach at Burleson (Texas) Centennial High School, will work a camp at the University of Oklahoma and host her own camp for fourth through ninth graders.
“I like to work camps to learn new drills and stay up on different ways to teach the same things to reach all learners,” Sullivan said.
Early said hosting a camp for local children is a great opportunity to keep the sport going strong in the area.
“We want to give back to the game as much as it has given us,” he said. “We want to reproduce a positive culture in softball and teach fundamentals and work ethic that will keep our sport strong.”
Jeff Serbin gets his Hendersonville (Tenn.) High School team together for some games during the summer so new players get a chance to learn about the program.
“We play a few games together in the summer to get incoming freshmen acclimated to our system,” Serbin said.
Southlake (Texas) Carroll Senior High School coach Tim Stuewe tries to watch his players’ summer teams so he can see his current and future players in action.
Softball coaches also find time to relax and spend time with their families after a busy spring season.
Many states have a dead period — where coaches can’t work with their student-athletes — providing the perfect time for vacation. Coaches might take a family trip to the beach or camping or just relax at home.
Or the vacation might revolve around other sports.
“Most of our own children play sports, so we travel around with them during the summer attending camps and tournaments,” Miller said. “We call that the family vacation.””