By: Tyler Murphy, BEd., CPT & former boy of summer!

Even though it may not look like it outside with all the wind and snow, summer is fast approaching for youth athletes. Summer is a key time for training for young athletes looking to improve their performance and fitness for the next season. Preparing for training is just as important as the training itself. This article will discuss several key points that young athletes should be aware of and practice before they begin their summer training, after the last game of the season.

The number one most important key to preparation for performance enhancement during the summer off-season is rest. Student athletes’ schedules have become more and more demanding as the competition for college scholarships has become more intense, to the point that young kids are spending 12 months a year playing their sport or preparing for their sport. Rest is the greatest recovery tool for any athlete to keep in their tool belts. It gives the body time to replenish and repair damaged or overused tissues, giving them the chance to properly heal and recover. This recovery allows the athlete to perform at a higher level because their muscles are able to function properly without fighting against inflamed or damaged tissue. The suggested time for youth and high school athletes is from a week to ten days of rest time, completely taking those days off from any training.

Once the rest time has been completed, actually taking the time off, the athletes should begin their preparation for their training. The summer time off-season for youth and high school athletes can be very short, ten to twelve weeks at the max before fall sports seasons start and school is back in session. This means that, as a sports trainer, we are going to try to fit in as much training as we possibly can in that short amount of time. Students will then have a responsibility to prepare themselves to hit the ground running. Core and stability training is easy and can be done at home on the athletes own time, taking no more than 10-15 minutes. Suggestions for core exercises include planks, sit-ups and crunches, scissor kicks, flutter kicks, and Superman back extensions just to name a few. Building a stable core will allow the athlete to perform any of the movements prescribed to them in the programming with little to no trouble, increasing their performance gains at a faster rate than another athlete who did not train their core. Body weight exercises will greatly help the athlete to jumpstart their training as well. Air squats, lunges, and push-ups are all great exercises to help build base strength and stability, allowing performance gains to come quickly.

At Intelligent Fitness, we are committed to training the entire athlete, mind and body. As a part of that, mental preparation for summer training is critical to the success of the athlete in the long run. Summer training is short and crammed full, making it somewhat of a grind. Mental toughness and fortitude are necessary skills for the successful athlete. Some argue that mental toughness is something that athlete’s are born with or calling it an “it” factor, but in reality it is a skill and skills can be taught and trained. So then, prior to starting their summer program, athletes should begin to think of what mental toughness and fortitude mean to them as well as ways that they can improve on some of their mental weaknesses. A famous quote says “Tough times don’t last, tough people do.”

Every athlete has grown up dreaming of the day when they get to step in front of a huge crowd, playing in the championship game, and walking off with the trophy in hand. Every successful, championship athlete started in the same place with the same dream, the only difference is their dedication to their training and putting in all the hours on the small stuff. Following these three simple guidelines to preparation for training will put the athlete in a position to take their game to the next level.