Opinion: Saturday Practices May Prevent Necessary Down Time


The varsity girls swim team cheers on their teammates from the pool deck.

In the midst of a busy week, Saturdays were the days I did not look forward to. My alarm would blurt out at 6:10am, as I quickly hit snooze and continued to hit snooze until I realized I was going to be late to practice. Practices on Saturdays were at 6:30am, which meant I had to be up a whole hour earlier than I usually had to be up for school. 

My body itched, as I struggled to get out of bed. And then again it itched once I got to the pool, and looked at the frozen water I had to jump into. After a week of pulling all- nighters, and getting at maximum four hours of sleep, Saturdays were days I hated. All of my stress and my exhaustion would mount on to Saturday mornings, and of course on the days I was meant to have a day off and sleep in, I couldn’t. 

My weeks seemed longer than ever, I never got a break, and my exhaustion was at breaking point. Most of the time my weekends turned into workdays, leading to my exhaustion from that week moving to the Monday of the week that followed. And once again my mental and physical health would drown and suffer all week. 

I know I am not the only one who sits with this exhaustion, other athletes experience the same situation that I do; longing for a day or perhaps if they’re lucky just a week to recharge and take care of themselves. Therefore, I think we should reconsider whether Saturday practices are as necessary as we might think. 

In a survey given to students from my elective courses, 42.9% of the students surveyed felt that Saturday practices were not effective, while 57.1% found them to be worthwhile and effective. 

When talking to BG Physics teacher and varsity swim coach Michael McPartlin, he said that Saturday practices for swimmers usually started at 6am, due to the park district needing the BG pool later on in the day. However coach Mcp (as most know him), found it necessary for Saturday practices to be mandatory nevertheless.

“Saturday practices are days that we get to work on technique, and focus on small things like stations, starts, resistance bands, etc. It becomes a drill day,” McPartlin said. “It also helps us get ready for bigger events like invites on weekends and allows us to get used to waking up early.”

Due to earlier practice times though, Saturday practice was usually found to not be as effective. As a member of the swim team myself, I recall most of the times my teammates making up excuses to why they could not show up to early practice, or snoozing the alarm too much to the point they overslept. Most of the time only half of the team would show up and participate on “drill day”, making Saturday practices not worthwhile.

But I’m sure that it comes down to whether you’re a morning person or not. While I am not a morning person, those who are, are the ones who actually gain something from waking up at 6:00 am on a Saturday.

“I think they are effective because they don’t really make me be lazy for the rest of the weekend, like I start it off with practice and you actually feel good about yourself because you already did something,” one of the BG athletes surveyed exclaimed.  “I think on Saturdays we are not so tired after school because students can be more efficient and work harder than they could after a long day of school,” another athlete said.

They also claimed that its results were effective not just to them individually but to the team as well, as more practice meant more time to be prepared for the next competition. 

In the article “FOR THE RECORD; When Schools Out, But Practice is on” written by Marek Fuchs in The New York Times, it stated that the Fox Lane girls lacrosse team suffered a continuation of losses after not practicing during Spring Break. Proving that although we might not like to have part of our weekends scheduled, Saturday and day off practices can be effective to teams, giving them more hours of practice and enhancing their skills. 

BG Business teacher and Hersey High School cheer’s coach Wil Hansen explained his belief of importance on Saturday practices. According to Hansen, he finds them to be necessary for his cheer team whose competitions typically take place on Sundays. 

“Having practices on Saturdays before a big competition allows athletes to be more prepared and set with skills,” Hansen said. “Additionally, many of the girls seem less tired on Saturdays and for some it even gives them a much needed kick start.” 

Perhaps the effectiveness of Saturday practices depends on the time they occur. According to Hansen, he typically begins practice at nine or ten in the morning, which allows for a bit more sleep and also a pretty good amount of the day left after practice. But as recalled earlier, the same does not remain true for all sports. 

An athlete at BG who was one of the students surveyed said she would prefer later practices on Saturdays and also said “I don’t really see them being that effective because people want to have the weekends off, but if they have to practice then they are taking up their weekend for fun and relaxation.”

Although I do see the importance of Saturday practices, I can’t say I disagree. Weekends should be a time to recharge, relax and figure out your life before you begin a new week.

The balance of training to enhance and develop high performance skills and maintain enough rest and sleep is one that many athletes struggle with. However, winning at all costs and pushing ourselves to the limit approach is not healthy for athletes or coaches. In order to perform at our best we must rest, repair, and restore. 

Ultimately, weekend time should be sacred. In the school systems that often preach SEL and encourage us to take care of ourselves, we need to weigh what is best not only for our physical health, but our mental health as well. Although Saturday practices might be necessary at times, overall they should be used sparingly and only when completely necessary.