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Guidelines For High School Practice Times

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This resource stems from a question submitted to the Ask PCA blog. Responses come from our experts including PCA Trainers, who lead live group workshops for coaches, parents, administrators and student-athletes.

"My son's new high school water polo coach has instituted two-a-day practices all season, as well as practices on school holidays. This schedule is not in keeping with the rest of our school culture, balancing academics, other extracurriculars, family and community service. But there is no guiding principle for the amount of practice time at the high school level. How do you suggest I address this matter?"

PCA Response by Jim Thompson, PCA Executive Director
Life is made up of choices and trade-offs. Many suggest that this is the case here: if you are going to excel in water polo you have to pay the price. Nonetheless it is worth asking whether it is possible to create a SYSTEM in which one can be a committed high school water polo player without undue sacrifice of other things that make life worthwhile (being with family and friends, having some down time, reading a book for pleasure, engaging in volunteer activity, etc.). I think so, but it will not be easy to get there.

The solution has to be pursued at a higher level. Your school principal or athletic director could seek agreement from rival schools to limit each schools' teams' practice time. Ideally the relevant governing body at the local, regional or state level would step in to create rational rules limiting practice time, rather than depending on each coach or school to do the right thing. The NCAA has imposed practice limits so it seems like high school water polo could survive them.

Download a printable version of this resource, including additional commentary from PCA, by clicking the PDF below. To read more questions and answers like this, or to submit your own question to the Ask PCA blog, click here.

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