Really? An article on summer in the middle of January? Yes!!! Now is the time to start planning the summer for your athletic department. Summer is a great time to slow down, catch up on reading, visit with family, and prepare for the school year. TheAthleticDirectors.com encourages every coach and athletic director to take time away from the program each summer. You’ve earned it! However, don’t neglect your program during the summer. It’s the best time to build your athletic department!
Summer time is the best chance for you as the athletic director to generate excitement about the athletic programs at your school. Take advantage of this time. Here are some tips from TheAthleticDirectors.com to make this summer the best “season” your athletic department has ever had.
Team Camps for Older Athletes
Most high school leagues have rules about how much contact a coach can have with players during the off-season. This limits any sort of team development. However, many leagues allow for one week of team development. This is where a week away at camp is a huge help.
Many colleges offer team camps for high school teams.
The most popular ones in Christian school circles are summer team basketball camps. At VBA, we take our varsity boys basketball team to Coach T’s Championship Camp at Lee University. It’s one of the best weeks of our summer.
Our girls have gone to Pensacola Christian College for basketball camp. The Lady Eagles coaches and players do a great job planning a week that is beneficial to our girls. They focus on individual and team development.
We’re always looking for a good volleyball team camp as well. There are a few out there, but we’re still trying to find the best one for us.
Team camps are great for team bonding. It also gives you a chance to develop deeper relationships with your players outside of the school setting. Not to mention that being immersed in sports instruction for a week is a fantastic way to improve your players (and your coaching).
There are other camps out there. Do some research online and find the ones that are good fits for your program.
Invest in Your Elementary Athletes
The elementary students are the future of your program. You want them to be ready for junior high and varsity competition when they’re old enough. Use the summer months to really invest in their athletic development.
There are a bunch of things you can do with your elementary students. The two best ways, however, are hosting camps and/or clinics at your facilities for elementary athletes.
You can schedule entire weeks for one sport or host different clinics a couple days a week. Either way, get your elementary kids active at your school this summer. If you don’t, you may not have an athletic department in a few years.
Since you probably don’t coach elementary teams, this is also a great time to get to know your elementary athletes and their families. Summer is a great time for PR. That may sound self-serving, but you want to have good relationships with people in your department. It’s best to develop that relationship when playing time and wins/losses aren’t an issue.
Open Up to the Community
Once again, summer is the best time for PR. What better way to attract people to your school than to get their kids on your campus and meet your people.
This is obviously a decision that you and your school administration will have to make. However, consider the good publicity that you’ll get if you’re putting on quality camps and clinics.
Opening up to the community will also give your athletes a chance to improve. If you host a volleyball camp for junior high girls and girls from the local middle school teams come, then you’re just strengthening your junior high girls. They’re playing alongside of and against some of the better players in the area.
You never know too, you might pick up a solid player from the community. There’s certainly nothing wrong with this type of passive recruiting.
Focus on Athletic Development
Your coaches may take their teams to sport specific camps. That’s fine.
However, be careful about turning the summer into a time where your coaches fight over time for “open gyms” and “voluntary workouts.” Agree long before school gets out that the number one focus of the summer will be to develop better athletes.
Having one coach over-schedule for their sport is counter-productive to developing well-rounded athletes.
There’s nothing wrong with working out one-on-one with players in a specific sport. That’s what a good coach does. Focusing on athletic development, though, will most benefit the entire program.
Host a weekly session with different age groups where you teach athletic movement. Do some plyometric training (be sure it’s age appropriate). Take them through some speed and agility drills. Introduce proper squats and lift techniques (once again, age appropriate).
Developing athletes should be your number one focus during the summer!
Fund Your Athletic Department
If you are hosting camps and clinics, then you’ll be able to make some money for your athletic programs.
Be sure that you are offering a quality product. Host a great camp that provides excellent instruction. Make sure to price accordingly.
You can use the funds to purchase equipment, pay for varsity camp attendance, or distribute to athletes for extra things like warm-ups or team shoes.
Summer is a time for rest. Allow your athletes and their families some time away from the program.
In our experience, if you over-schedule you lose attendance.
People don’t want to be burned out over the summer. This goes for your athletes as well. So keep that in mind when you make your summer schedule.
You won’t have 100% attendance at any of your events.
There’s nothing wrong with having something going on at your campus five days a week. Just make sure that it’s not the same group of people everyday.
We typically work with high school athletes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Our elementary athletes come in for fitness and fun on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
This is the most important piece of advice for a successful summer season.
Make your families aware of your summer plans as early as possible. Family vacations are often planned months in advance.
Most committed athletic families will plan around school activities if possible. You just need to give them enough notice.
We recommend putting your summer plans out there some time around mid-March. This gives everyone time to plan, and it gives you time to generate excitement.
So there you have it! Hopefully you find our tips to a successful summer season valuable.
What programs does your athletic department use to make the best use of summer?