Hopkins Hilltoppers Power Through Preseason
For the last two weeks of summer, fall athletes at Hopkins participate in preseason, which equips athletes for the upcoming season. Despite interrupting the last few weeks of summer break, it kicks off the fall season and prepares athletes for their upcoming sports.
This year, preseason ran from August 21 to September 1, with a two to three-hour practice each weekday. In addition to preseason practices, some teams have the opportunity to scrimmage other schools in preparation for the regular season.
A crucial aspect of preseason is preparing the athletes physically for the regular season. Assistant Girls Soccer coach Paige Davis says, “Preseason is a time where we can see who has been building and maintaining fitness over the summer while also building it up to peak level.” Preseason helps coaches figure out what level their team is at, making preseason as necessary for coaches as it is for athletes. Davis adds that “it allows for us as coaches to see strong and weak points to build on during the season.” Girls Soccer co-captain Sophie Denny ’24 explains that “once we get to preseason we [run] fitness at the end of each practice in order to keep the team in shape. In soccer, it is so important to finish [a] game with the same energy that you started with, which is why the fitness we do during preseason is so important.” Head Football coach Tim Phipps states, “Our first opponent is the game itself, physically being prepared for it. We focus a lot on the type of conditioning we do. We design it so that it is the motions we use in the game and helps them build up endurance.”
During sports the right mentality is critical and preseason begins to introduce the team mindset. In addition to physically preparing athletes for the regular season, preseason also prepares athletes mentally. Head Boys Soccer coach Joseph Addison says that “preseason has a few different purposes. It allows all players to have the same understanding of programmatic values. What do we think is important and why? All players should leave preseason knowing the answers to those questions. That sort of foundation means they start the school year and games with some thoughtful momentum. Preseason helps athletes go into the regular season knowing where they stand and how they fit into their team.
Along with the physical and mental benefits, preseason encourages social activity between teammates. Coaches initiate social bonding in a variety of ways. Phipps emphasizes the welcoming of incoming football players: “We focus on [this] especially at the start of this preseason. We make it a point, especially for our captains ... to incorporate [new students] into the program, so we are not isolating players.” Addison states that “preseason gives us time and space for team bonding. Sand soccer, running hills, watching a college game never mind the normal daily practices and work on the ball these are all ways that teams begin to understand themselves.” Team bonding builds strong and trustful relationships on and off the field. Teams become cohesive which leads to success.
Teams set goals and preseason begins the process of accomplishing them. While athletes focus on personal goals such as learning a new skill or perfecting a skill they already know, coaches set team objectives. Football coach Tim Phipps says, “The goals we have are out-come-based.” He states, “Hopkins football players will be mentally and physically prepared for each game. Hopkins football players will play fast and be aggressive and that’s how we gear our entire preseason program.” Phipps adds, “That’s what we use preseason [for], to get that into the player’s minds.”
Preseason provides physical, mental, and social conditioning that will carry athletes from the start to the end of the season. It helps players ease into the regular season, return to the sport’s routine, and set goals. As Addison says, “It’s a great moment when players see they are writing the script as much as their coaches, and
that’s excellent mental preparation for the knowns and unknowns to come this fall.”