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Summer is here — are you getting better?

June 14, 2010

So, what are you doing this summer?

Are you getting better or relying on the status quo?

If you are not working to get better in athletics, then you are the status quo and that status quo will change when camp opens.

If you are a basketball player who was the fourth-best player on the team and the top two players graduated, and you aren't spending the summer getting better, then I guarantee that you will not be the second-best player when camp opens because others will pass you in work ethic and ability.

If you think you should be the captain next year because you will be a senior and you feel it's your right to be the captain and you don't spend the summer going to open gym and you don't work on your strength and conditioning, it will be really hard for the coach to make you a captain when the coach has seen no leadership qualities in you over the summer.

You can only get so much better during the season.

The summer is when you improve by leaps and bounds.

The summer is when you make 500 shots and 100 free throws a day.

The summer is when you lift in the morning and play baseball in the afternoon.

The summer is when you get better as a hurdler, a jumper, a long-distance runner, a long snapper, a swimmer, a band member, a catcher, a teammate.

The summer is not the time to rest on your alleged laurels from the previous season(s).

If you are resting and your teammates are not, there will be a nice place on the bench waiting for you when your season begins.

You and your parents can whine all you want when you start the season on the bench and without being named captain, but the coach did not make that decision, you did when you decided to do nothing over the summer.

And, even if you did something over the summer and only did so half-heartedly, that nice warm spot on the bench will still be there for you.

If you are in a team sport, the summer is not about you, it is about you and your teammates.

If your teammates are busting their collective behinds to get better and you're not, you're not a good teammate.

Championship teams begin in the summer, not in August, November or March.

If you and your teammates are lifting at 7 a.m. and your opponents are not, you and your teammates are already better than your opponents.

If you want to play baseball in the spring and make an impact on the team, you play baseball during the summer and make an impact on the team.

If you want to be a better golfer come August, you spend the summer getting better.

If you want your serve to be better in volleyball or tennis, you spend the summer getting better.

If you want to be a better foul shooter during the winter, you spend the summer getting better.

If you want to stand atop the podium in Columbus or Charleston, you spend the summer getting better.

Some parents will say that their child is gone from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. with all this sports stuff.

And ... what's the problem?

Anybody put in a 14-hour work day?

It is not 14 hours day-in and day-out, but a 14-hour day is really good for teenagers.

How many of those days will they have in college? More than they can count.

The day of the old-school three-sport athlete is over.

If you play three sports, you are now a five-sport athlete.

The fourth sport is weightlifting and the fifth sport is summer baseball, summer basketball, etc.

Every athlete should spend quality time in the weight room.

If you are not in the weight room, you are not getting better - whether you are a swimmer, golfer or track athlete.

Weight training has been used for years not only to get bigger and stronger, but is also used as a way to prevent injuries.

Rick Camilletti is the strength and conditioning coach at Big Red.

"Our first priority to our athletes is to prevent injuries," he said. "With that, of course you are going to get bigger and stronger and be able to compete at a higher level. You're crazy as a parent not to stress to the kids that they have to do this to prevent injuries.

"With getting stronger, you are always going to prevent injuries. We make sure we hit every joint and hit all the muscles. A lot of people who are into body building and the powerlifting part of it, tend to isolate muscles when they lift. We are more athletic-oriented than we are weightlifting-oriented."

More political correctness from adults and it's just stupid.

The Gloucester Dragons Recreational Soccer league in Ottawa has implemented a new rule saying if a team wins a match by more than five goals, they will forfeit the match.

League officials claim the rule is intended to prevent blowouts. It replaces its five-goal mercy rule, where any goals scored beyond a five-goal differential would not count.

"They should be saying anything is possible. If we can get five goals really fast, well, so can the other team," said 17-year-old Keith Cappon, who has played in the league for five years. "People grow in adversity, they don't really get worse ... I think you'll see more leadership skills being used if a losing team tries to recuperate than if they never got into that situation at all."

In addition, coaches of stronger teams are being encouraged to rotate players out of their usual positions, ensure players pass the ball around, ask players to kick with the weaker foot, take players off the field and encourage players to try and score from farther away.

Next on the list is a forfeit win if you win by a shutout.

After all, the players on the losing team must score a goal in order to feel good about themselves. We sure wouldn't want to hurt their self-esteem.

No more dodgeball. Jumping rope without a rope.

This is pathetic.

Why are we babying kids?

Suck it up and play.

Here are two scenarios for you on this pathetically stupid rule:

A) Mike's team is up 5-0 and, with 30 seconds left in the game, Garrison's team boots in an own goal for a 6-0 lead for Mike's team and an eventual forfeit for Mike's team.

B) Mike's team is up 5-0 with 20 minutes left in the game. Mike's team boots in an own goal for a 5-1 game and a regular game can now commence. Mike's team scores to make it 6-1, Mike's team then has another own goal for a 6-2 lead and a regular game can begin again.

Anybody else see a problem with those two scenarios?

Can this get any worse?

Unfortunately, the answer is: yes.

Some adult, somewhere will come up with a dumber idea.

I know, how about for each goal that is scored in youth soccer, the goal gets smaller on each side, making it harder the the team to score - making the scores closer so all the Mike's and Garrison's of the world can eat their snacks without tears getting in the way.

Oh, how about when kids get to high school and play in a soccer match, the first time you play a team there are no restrictions.

Let's say Mike's team beats Garrison's team 7-0 the first time, the second time they play, Garrison's team starts the game with a 7-0 lead.

Finally, the World Cup has been going on less than a week and there has been more dives by players than when Vlade Divac played for the Lakers.

Dude, get up and quit acting like Shaq just steamrolled you on the way to the basket. It's a terrible message to send the world when all eyes are upon you. Quit acting like a 5-year-old girl who just broke a cup on her tea set.

Suck it up and play the game like men.

Dear Ben Roethlisberger,

Shut up.

Your walk is louder than your talk and I don't care what your talk is.

I don't care you have said you are going to change.

The bad part in all of this is you are going to get your six-game suspension relegated to four games.

You are going to get your suspension reduced based on your good behavior.

Of course, if you had good behavior the first time, you wouldn't be suspended.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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