NCSA: Summer training tips for student-athletes

USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities and play at the college level. Jason Smith is a former NCAA DIII athlete and college coach at all three division levels. Jason is just one of many former college and professional athletes, college coaches and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience and dedication, along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community, have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.

It’s good for athletes to have a period of recovery, but you might need to add a bit of training to your offseason, as well. Many high school student-athletes often stay inside where it’s cool, hang by the pool and enjoy the break from the busy school year schedule. Even so, many others kick their summer workouts into high gear. They push weights around, perform their preferred speed drills and push to the limits. Unfortunately, those extra summer workout sessions won’t add up to much if they’re done without a plan. To help you stay in top shape and perform at your best during and after summer, check out the following tips:

Eating healthy, staying hydrated and getting enough sleep

Despite athletes being at a lower risk of adding weight during the summer, it’s crucial to consider your nutritional needs in your offseason. Undoubtedly, “you are what you eat.” To keep your energy levels up, avoid processed food, and eat fresh produce, lean meat and whole grains.

Increase your fluid intake to stay hydrated. As you sweat, your body loses fluids. This is why you should drink water before hitting the field. Keeping your body hydrated at all times helps maintain the right body temperature and minimize muscle cramps.

The amount of water an athlete should consume depends on many factors. Among the factors include the amount you sweat, body weight, humidity, and heat. Some tips to prompt you into drinking more water throughout the day include:

  • Drink water on your way to a training session
  • Carry a water bottle of water with you
  • Rehydrate with a sports drink, in case you’ve been practicing for 60 minutes or more
  • Drink water as advised by your coach

Clock the optimum number of sleep hours. Getting sufficient sleep (8-10 hours per night) is necessary for top performance. If you get insufficient sleep, your body won’t be recovering as expected. Sleep boosts your body’s ability to recover from a rigorous workout and restores your daily energy.

Balancing all of your school and sport activities can be stressful. If stress is not contained, it can lead to serious health issues. The more you focus on taking care of yourself, the better equipped you’ll be to adjust to the challenge of advancing from the level of high school sports to college sports.

A day in the life of a Division I Football Player

Keep your workouts interesting

Figure out some way to keep your workout exciting during the offseason. Incorporate a swimming pool, change up location or play new music. Use your desire to compete at the next level as motivation to keep your fitness levels up all summer long.

Attend camps and tournaments:  With no pens or books or books on your way, it’s best to fill in your summertime schedule with tournaments and camps. Tournaments give you the opportunity to be assessed in live game situations, probably by coaches of a school you are interested in. A high number of coaches across different phases of competition discover the majority of their recruits at camps and tournaments. Overnight camps also provide you a chance to experience college life.

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Warm-ups and cool-downs

Before starting any workout session, ensure you warm up. You don’t want to miss out valuable summertime training sessions due to an injury that could’ve been prevented with the right warm-up.

Statistic stretches are effective in cooling down the body. To cool your lower body, perform stretches that focus on all the major muscle groups you used during your workout session.

Enjoy yourself

Aside from setting and fulfilling your summer workout goals and expectations, it’s important to experience other activities outside practice. Take advantage of some of your free time to relax. Think of summer as an opportunity to prevent burn out, as well as refresh your passion and drive for your sport.

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