The time put in for those attending practices gives them an edge over those not there yet. For most athletes involved in multiple sports, it is difficult to adjust playing conditioning from one sport to the next, but with a few weeks of practice the transition happens.
Such is the case with Southwest's Terrance Johnson. After a successful football campaign, Johnson stuck strictly to weightlifting for a few months. Now Johnson will be called upon to lead the Eagles in the 100- and 200-meter sprints in track, which means he has to get his body in shape to run quick, short distances.
"I had pulled my hamstring during football so I wanted to strengthen my muscles. That's one of the reasons I was lifting," said Johnson. "But now I have to get in shape for this. You run a lot in football, but it's different than track. But I figure after a few practices I'll be ready to go."
In Imperial, things are a little different for William Estes' Tiger baseball team. Everyone competing for a slot on the team is present and ready to go.
That's about where the differences end as far as practices go. Both teams have guidelines for running a practice, which Estes and Becker say can vary depending on the day. Some days are light workouts while other days are intense.
"We run about the same thing to warm up, then everybody splits up into their own individual groups and depending on the previous practice, we'll have a heavy intense workout or we'll take it a little easier," said Becker.
Estes' practices are broken down into individual and team offensive and defensive drills, which consist of various hitting, fielding and pitching exercises.
An added aspect of Imperial's practices this year has been extra conditioning.
"If there's one difference in practices, it's more running," said second baseman Stewart Harvey. "We're running more and that means the practices are a little longer. Before they used to be about two hours long. Now they're between two and a half and three hours."
Said catcher Chris Mazeroll: "Yeah, practices are longer and we are doing more conditioning, but we know it's worth it. We all know that the extra work we put in now will pay off."
While some practices can look a little lax, like, "a bunch of kids goofing around," according to Becker, everybody involved knows strong practices help decide an outcome in competition.
It used to be said, "practice makes perfect," but that was corrected to "perfect practice makes perfect."
"You can look at our practice and think that no one is really working hard, but at some point everyone is doing something at 100 percent," said Becker. "I often tell our kids that they should practice the way they want to perform. And hopefully, that will be at 100 percent."