This is the time of year that can make or break a varsity season, or even make the difference in earning a spot on the varsity squad in the first place.
The summer training season has become a critical component to the next school year’s athletic success – both to the team and the individual performance of athletes.
In Mansfield, club teams abound, and numerous athletes are well into their select team seasons, whether in baseball, softball, volleyball or even swimming.
Coaching staffs know the importance of staying connected with the sport, but they also recognize the need to take time away from the court or field of competition.
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At this stage of a high schooler’s life, a lot can be attained in terms of growth, strength and skill development. That may be more so with boys, but even the girls can come back after a two-month break and have hit a growth spurt.
Regardless of the sport, strength and conditioning are a key component in developing better athletes and preventing injury.
That’s a big reason Mansfield ISD schools offer six weeks of an all-sports program starting at the end of the month.
Some campuses, such as Mansfield High, have already designated a strength and conditioning coordinator.
The coordinator is not a delegated football coach, but rather a qualified overseer for all the athletes in a school’s athletic program.
Shane Trotter takes that role at Mansfield and is impassioned about the role he feels he can play in terms of contributing to the development and safety for Tigers athletes.
“The big thing I’ve always pushed is that you hate to be on a sports field without a strength program,” Trotter said. “And it helps to prevent overuse injuries, too.”
Trotter said Mansfield once saw 70 injuries in football which took an athlete out of competition for a week or longer.
The next season, with a more dedicated program of strength and conditioning in the summer months, that number dropped to 38.
“The next big focus is prevention,” Trotter said when speaking to what is new in the conditioning programs across the country.
The non-conditioned athlete is an injury just waiting to happen, Trotter said.
But it’s not just a matter of lifting weights and running.
“The huge culture shift is coming. The old mentality was to just lift everything,” Trotter explained.
The old thinking was “stronger is better.” Now, the focus is on mobility.
“It’s all about mobility and not sport-specific training. We work on single-arm, single-leg and lateral movement and balance. It’s more intelligence-based,” Trotter said. “Mobility gives an appreciation to the full spectrum of training an athlete.”
The summer programs which begin on Mansfield ISD campuses for both boys and girls starts June 22.
The sessions will be two two-hour sessions for an athlete to select from and allows for a proper alignment of workout groups. For instance, younger athletes can be paired together and higher level athletes can work together.
Regardless of the sport, the athlete will have a plan for his or her individual needs.
The emphasis in the program is all about consistency, Trotter said.
“With consistency, you can see tremendous changes in six weeks,” he said, adding that nutrition plays a big role, as well.
The six-week program will lead up to a quickly arriving start to the volleyball season workouts on Aug. 3, with football reporting back on Aug. 10.