Panama City, FL---It's not a regular occurrence for high school basketball teams to play six to eight games in a three day span.
It is though, when they're taking part in a summer team camp like the one hosted by Gulf Coast this week. Several local teams are taking advantage of this camp to squeeze in a lot of game action while working to improve this summer.
Schools out for summer, but the gym's open for business. An offseason? Summer Vacation? Those don't exist for the squads at the Gulf Coast Team Camp.
"Summer basketball is very important to the development of players and teams," says Bay head coach Mike Grady. "Basketball is one of those sports that you have to actually play in games."
"It's a year round thing now," adds Rutherford head coach Rhondie Ross. "We try to find time to take off here and there, a week or two. But for the most part if you're not training, you're gonna fall behind."
Grady went on to say "Weight training is good, individual drills are good, but nothing substitutes for actually playing basketball in organized fashion, five on five, getting up and down the court."
The plan is this: form your identity in the summer to be ready for the fall and winter.
"We try to get as many games within reason, as we can during the summer," says Graceville head coach Matt Anderson. "Because that way it helps us with our rotations, it helps the kids to know their role."
"This allows you to see a bunch of teams in a short amount of time in one place and it's a lot of experience for the kids," says Grady.
"We try to play about twenty games each summer," says Anderson. "It almost gives the kids a full season of basketball, and let's us know where each kid's at, what we need to improve on."
"These summer basketball games is kind of grueling in that you're playing sometimes three or four games in one day," says Grady. "And you know, mentally and psychologically it's just as hard as it is physically. And it's important for the kids to get over that. And sometimes as coach you have to be kind of demonstrative to pull that out of your young men."
Gameplay is a great learning tool, but there can be too much of a good thing.
"We try to have a happy medium, you do get tired of playing against each other," says Ross. "But at the same time, sometimes in the month of June you may have more game dates than practice dates. So you've gotta try and find a balance, because sometimes you find yourself playing a lot of games and you're saying to yourself we really need to get in the gym and work on some things."