Summer work important for athletes to hone skills

Published 10:24 am Thursday, May 21, 2015

According to the calendar, the year begins in January and ends in December. Anyone who has ever been involved with sports, however, knows it really runs from roughly August to June.

August is when high school football season cranks up and the energy of a new school year is in full swing. June, or more appropriately late May, is when the high school and college sports calendars wind down and teams hit the reset button for the summer.

It’s kind of a weird time of year on the sports scene. Sure. some of the pro sports leagues are at full throttle, but for the most part summer is when teams spend more time practicing than actually playing for something.

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High school teams go to camps and play games for which they don’t even keep score. College teams are in their offseason conditioning programs.

It even filters down to youth sports. The travel ball circuit is filled with weekend tournaments, but there’s really only one or two that matter. Everything else is just practice for the big ones.

This time of year is both ridiculously unimportant, and at the same time incredibly important. No one hangs banners for going 10-2 during a June summer schedule, or for winning the Possum Neck Youth Baseball Weekend Extravaganza and Catfish Cookout Tournament, but without putting in the work in summer it’s difficult to have success when it really matters.

It’s that way in a lot of aspects of life, of course. I’ve always been fascinated by massive construction projects where they have to invent a new machine or technique just to build whatever it is they’re working on.

Sports is the same way.

You need to build the skillset, figure out how to do something and work out the kinks at some point. Summer is actually the best time for that.

During the regular season, time is precious. Even with a few practices a week, the steady flow of games and limited playing time makes it difficult to work on problems. By the time the season starts, it’s too late to make major changes if the fundamentals aren’t there.

Summer seems even shorter — only about a month of playing time and more games than practices — yet there’s less pressure and more freedom to grow.

So, to all the athletes out there, take advantage of it. Work on your game. And come back in August to give us another great sports year. The rest of us are heading to the beach.

Ernest Bowker is a sports writer. He can be reached at 601-619-7120, or via email at

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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