Public high school varsity coaches in the state of Maryland are waiting for the chance to be allowed contact with their players during the off- season. In states such as West Virginia, Virginia, and California, high school coaches are allowed to conduct off-season workouts as long as they are not run as formal team practices. In the state of Georgia, high school football coaches are allowed to conduct spring practices, just like college programs.
Maryland head varsity coaches are not allowed to conduct any type of workout or practice with their players during the off-season. Instead, the winter workouts for spring sports and summer league basketball teams are run by varsity assistant coaches, junior varsity coaches, and in some cases team volunteers. Many basketball coaches from Maryland public schools attend summer league games and watch from a distance in the bleachers. It is my belief, having coached baseball at a Maryland public high school, that they would much rather be on the bench coaching their players.
I believe Maryland should adopt a system like that of the state of Georgia, and include basketball and baseball, and other sports as well. The only way to improve your skills in something is through repetition. Instead of a baseball team being restricted to conditioning and weight lifting during the winter, they should be allowed to work on fielding and hitting as well. I know high school basketball is going on in the gym and takes priority because they are in season, but there are a number of hitting and fielding drills that can be conducted in the multipurpose room with soft rubber balls and wiffle balls. Allowing the head coach there will give him a first hand look at the progress of his team.
Maryland high school head coaches are allowed to coach a club team during the off-season that includes players from their school team. However, under the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association guidelines, that team can not have more than 80 percent of the players required for a full starting lineup from the coach’s high school. An example of this rule would be a high school varsity basketball coach decides to coach an AAU team, that team can only have 4 or less players from the coach’s high school team.
In a conducted by the MPSSAA during the 2006-07 school year, 93 percent of the 454 responses suggested that changes should be made. The participants in the survey were coaches, athletic directors, principals, county athletic supervisors, and superintendents. More than half (59 percent) say the changes should be a “high priority.”
Athletics are not the only part of a high school student’s life, but for many, it is a major part. Many student athletes look to athletics as a way to earn a college education. Off-season team practices will give them a chance to get the reps they need to perfect their craft. Allowing young athletes the opportunity to practice with their team, under the guidance of their head coach, will only build stronger bonds and stronger teams.