For some, winter break consists of sleeping, eating and stressing about school starting again. For athletes, however, winter break offers them an entirely separate set of opportunities. Save for a couple specific days, practices for winter sports continue all throughout break.
“Every athlete in all three seasons is giving up something,” boys basketball coach Josh Peters said. “For winter athletes, it’s Thanksgiving and winter break. You’re committing to being available and having practices over that period of time. It just underscores the significance of the commitment students make when they step into the field of athletics.”
However, Peters believes that athletes should still be able to relax a bit during the break. Stressed athletes still need time to cool down throughout the season.
“It’s such an important time for family and we want to make sure guys have some time to spend with their families and also just kind of disconnect and recharge a little bit too,” Peters said. “Student athletes, in particular, work very hard. They are challenged in the classroom, they have these expectations placed on them as athletes, and really whether you’re a journalist, you’re in band, or anywhere else, you’ve got all these competing responsibilities and having a little time over something like winter break to disconnect is important.”
This added flexibility benefits athletes with hectic schedules over the break. Many are travelling with family or have important plans.
“It’s fair because if you don’t want to go or you can’t go, there’s no pressure, so it’s not that big a deal,” winter track member and sophomore Sofia Devin said.
The reasons behind winter practices are consistent with the reason practices are so frequent during any other part of the year: consistency equates improvement.
“It’s like any other skill, you need regular practice to maintain it,” Peters said. “Routine and just regular maintenance. Practice and development of these skills is critical. It’s very hard, especially in the world of athletics, to train and develop skills and then stop, and try and pick it back up again because you’re not going to be able to achieve at the same level. You’ll plateau or you may even decrease.”
Devin agreed that consistent practice is key to success in sports. Athletes need to be working consistently throughout the season.
“I think it is important to keep practicing, because winter break is two weeks, so you can really get out of shape and out of practice,” Devin said. “If you’re in a sport like track where you’re always running, it’s going to be really hard to just show up to a meet after winter break and not do badly if you haven’t practiced.”
Peters also utilizes the extra practice time to refresh athletes on basic skills that are not focused on heavily while school is in session.
“Particularly over winter break, I like to get back to basics,” Peters said. “We’re working on a lot of fundamental stuff and we like to have some fun. Sometimes the environment can be a little bit more relaxed so it really can vary. I try not to deviate too much; I don’t want it to get too undisciplined or too unstructured.”
Generally, Peters believed that the extra practices are a good choice.
“This is my fifth year coaching here and my sense every year is the guys get something out of it, they enjoy it, and it’s worth the sacrifice,” Peters said.