Sports teams begin conditioning practices for the upcoming seasons

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Photo by Elliu Huang

Girls’ soccer players practice passing the ball.

Elliu Huang

Despite the pandemic, Lynbrook sports teams are preparing for their sports season in December 2020 or February 2021 by beginning team workouts. Currently, there are seven sports teams holding in-person conditioning this fall: girls’ basketball, boys’ basketball, girls’ tennis, girls’ soccer, field hockey, football and wrestling.

During the 2019-2020 school year before shelter-in-place, sports teams could gather in large numbers, share equipment and focus on teamwork during practice. Athletes had the freedom to interact with each other, which helped them form stronger bonds with teammates.

Girls’ basketball players practice shooting drills. (Photo by Elliu Huang)

“Usually during the summer, we would participate in a summer league for about six weeks and have open gyms twice a week, along with attending an out of town tournament for bonding,” girls’ basketball coach Lynley Takaki said. 

In contrast, athletes participating in the conditioning programs this year are facing unprecedented circumstances, following strict rules in order to keep them safe. Aside from the usual social distancing guidelines, masks must be worn at all times except during high intensity drills or exercises. In order to reduce contact with other people, conditioning is limited to 12 athletes per sport but was recently increased to 20, and athletes cannot participate in more than one sport.

Boys’ basketball players work on passing now that players can share equipment. (Photo by Elliu Huang)

“It has been challenging because we have to make sure we are practicing social distancing while we work out together,” boys’ basketball coach Richard Appler said. “It’s weird having to tell the team not to high five or come near each other.”

All sports have to work on individual skills rather than team drills because athletes initially had to bring their own equipment, but restrictions have eased since. Conditioning exercises and drills are designed so that athletes will not come in close contact with each other. 

For example, the girls’ soccer team was initially focusing on individual fitness and skills, such as dribbling, stepovers and rolling the ball. They have now started working on passing the ball to other teammates.

On the basketball teams, players were mostly working on increasing their endurance and were less focused on playing basketball. With looser restrictions, basketball players can work on team plays, passing the ball and transitioning between points. 

The wrestling team has not been able to wrestle at all because it requires close contact; instead, they have been working out and running to stay fit. 

Wrestlers work out outside because they aren’t allowed to practice wrestling. (Photo by Elliu Huang)

“The team will be rusty and out of shape because we can’t wrestle each other but with conditioning, I’m hoping that most of them will be ready once the season starts and that they don’t lose their competitive edge,” wrestling coach Diego Reyes said.

It is commonly believed that teams perform better when teammates form strong bonds with each other, but the pandemic circumstances make it harder for teammates to get to know each other during their limited conditioning time.

Despite the lack of opportunities for team building exercises, athletes have found many benefits in training individual skills.

Girls’ soccer coach Claus Strand demonstrates a triangle passing skills exercise. (Photo by Elliu Huang)

“Since starting conditioning in September, we have focused a lot of time on individual footwork and skills, and the results are showing,” said girls’ soccer coach Claus Strand. “Hopefully, this will translate into better team play once we are allowed to conduct regular practices.”

Although athletes don’t have as much time with the team, they are still able to work with newer players during conditioning. Most sports are open to anyone interested, so athletes from all classes can work out together and help beginners.

Fall sports teams are working hard doing fall conditioning in order to perform well for the upcoming season. Although many COVID-19 restrictions may hinder teams’ ability to bond, athletes are happy to be back on campus, playing their sport with friends.

Field hockey players practice passing the ball on Stober Field. (Photo by Elliu Huang)

“I’m very happy to get to see my friends again,” junior field hockey player Vanessa Su said. “It is also a lot more motivating to work out by playing field hockey with friends than to go on a run or to do workouts at home alone.”