Recently I competed in a Tough Mudder with my wife and a number of our friends. At the event there were a number of colorful and creative teams with fun slogans and custom-made t-shirts. The one slogan though that stood out to me the most was: "The dedicated athlete has no offseason".
This slogan got me seriously thinking about what the proper offseason really means. On one hand I want my athletes to experience as much success as possible, and to do that they must train. On the other hand, there really is more to life than high school (and even collegiate) athletics.
It's extremely hard for me to say that high school athletics aren't everything because I've put a great deal of my time, life, and energy into becoming the best coach I can be for my athletes. But, in all honestly, people need to realize that there is so much more to life than training for a sport - unless that is your desired and chosen path.
There is no more competitive person out there than me. I want my jumps team to be the best, I want to take as many kids as possible to state every year; and I want my athletes to move on to the collegiate level and dominate. Unless those aforementioned athletes choose to prepare the right way those dreams may never be realized, and it is their decision whether to or not.
I only get to coach my high school athletes three months out of the year. The ability to accomplish much in terms of transforming an athlete into a state caliber jumper is impossible in that amount of time. Unless an athletes chooses to spend the offseason gaining functional strength and being active it will be extremely difficult to make a season worthwhile.
Athletes must understand that God-given talent isn't enough. I want them to understand that if they truly aspire to be great, training is an absolute must and cannot be an afterthought. I know how busy life is, and homework, family, and personal lives are extremely important to me; but an athlete must find time to prepare properly.
If an athlete chooses to not prepare prior to the season I am completely OK with that, but he/she need to be ready to face the consequences of those decisions. Don't expect me (or any other coach) to work any miracles and make you something you could have made yourself during the offseason by training.
So what is the proper offseason? Whatever you make it. Whatever your choices are, own them and never make any excuses. Ball's in your court.