Keith Edmonds is a 32-year veteran of teaching and school administration from Fort Wayne. He coached boys high school basketball as an assistant at Snider High School, North Side High School and was the head boys basketball coach at Elmhurst High School for 12 years, advancing to the Class 3A State championship in 2003.

The importance of staying in shape has taken a whole new meaning for this day and age. Players that want to keep a competitive advantage must understand that your level of success is determined by the amount of time you spend working on your skills away from the pre-determined practice times.

With the advent of training facilities for agility, speed, shooting and conditioning, players that use these resources have a distinct advantage over those that don’t. I see many of our area’s top players taking advantage of these resources to give them a leg up on their competitors when actual competition begins. And get this: the training is happening IN SEASON!

I looked up the true meaning of what Sports Performance Training was and here’s what I found: “Sports performance training is youth and high school athletic training programs that give athletes the tools they need to improve strength, speed, endurance, power and flexibility. These programs include performance testing as well as nutrition and regeneration techniques to improve overall performance and to educate athletes about how decisions off the court, between games, and at practices affect their play”.

Wow! Now that is a mouthful! Today’s athletes have a distinct advantage over those from yesteryear in that they are constantly being monitored, looked at, evaluated and scrutinized by trainers and sports psychologists. Those people work so much on their physical and mental approach to their sport, that even the slightest move in their temperament or physical performance can be diagnosed and corrected almost immediately.

Now I understand that these factors can come in to play for our athletes and allow them to reach heights that were previously unattainable for many, but one thing that sports performance cannot measure is an athlete’s PASSION FOR THE GAME.

You can have all of the tools to measure how high you can jump, how fast you run the 40 yard dash and how much weight you can lift and I appreciate that. But give me an athlete that understands how to win! Those kids are rare and when you find them it makes coaches sleep better at night and leads teams towards successful seasons!

So in essence, what I’m saying is yes, there is a place for sports performance training and the need to shape the total athlete, but never lose track of those players who just go out and work on their game when no one’s hovering over them with timers, parachutes and various devices strapped to their backs. There is a place for both and it’s up to each individual to find what works best for them and move in the best direction that will help them accomplish their goals.

I, for one, have a greater appreciation for trainers and experts who do this on a daily basis because it’s not easy to get athletes to go beyond what they think they’re capable of to find success. It also takes a special type of individual to accept constructive criticism and be willing to listen and learn what mental or physical techniques applied to them can help them achieve overall maximum athletic success.

Courtside with Coach Edmonds will appear every Monday during the prep basketball season at Outside the Huddle. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. 

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