• October 24, 2014

Holiday break can rightfully turn coaches into grinches

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Posted: Friday, December 27, 2013 4:30 am

It is said the holidays are the best time of year.

I know some high school basketball coaches who would disagree, and I don’t blame them.

Coaches spend months trying to prepare their teams to be ready for the only part of the season that truly matters – district. Once most players and coaches finally get in rhythm, however, the holiday break comes along and ruins everything.

While I seriously doubt anybody is complaining about school being closed for two weeks, undoubtedly, valuable momentum is lost, especially for bigger districts like Copperas Cove’s.

The Lady Bulldawgs are already four games into their 14-game schedule, while the Bulldawgs have completed two district games.

So, after building to peak at district play, Copperas Cove’s teams, just like many others around the state, are suddenly left with a meaningless gap in the season before somehow regaining their intensity for a final push at the playoffs.

It just doesn’t seem right.

I understand there are logistics that play a role, and I know teams do not completely shut down until after New Year’s Day, but meaningless games and tournaments cannot replicate district play.

Everybody deals with the same issues, so it is not a case of anything being unfair, it just does not promote the best product.

There is a mentality involved with the district schedule. Every game is important, and every outcome is critical. Players and coaches must perform at their best every time they step on the court. Otherwise, small mistakes can equal huge disappointment.

Once that focus is interrupted, I can see how it would be hard to rediscover it.

Every coach and every player is different though. I know some teams are eagerly anticipating the break, even if it interferes with district play.

Some individuals need the rest or use the time to heal nagging injuries. Others find the practice time refreshing, allowing strategies and philosophies to be implemented without having to worry about an upcoming opponent.

For some, the holiday break is a time when team is all that matters.

To each his own, I suppose, but I just can’t see how kids are capable of simply turning the proverbial switch on and off. After all, professional athletes are often heavily criticized for attempting to accomplish such a feat, yet 16-, 17- and 18-year-old players are expected to do just that.

Funny things happen on basketball courts around this time of year. Whether it is from anticipating the holidays and all the hoopla that goes with them, or due to being slow to regain form after an extended period away from the game, typically, the on-court performance suffers.

While the break interrupts a team’s flow and forces it on a mental roller coaster, luckily, it does not take anything away from the compelling nature of the season’s final weeks.

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