The month of September is rapidly approaching and this signifies a few things:
- Vacation has come and gone;
- Summer is coming to an end; and, if you go to school or have a child in school,
- It means another school year is about to start.
Now if you are a high school athlete, September should also represent you completing 2-3 months of training for your respective sport. I know our athletes who attended our summer camps worked their tails off all summer in preparation for their respective club or high school team. Our coaching staff is thrilled with all of our athletes and we are confident they will leave our camps as better athletes.
The challenge for any high school athlete is to take the progress they made during the summer and continue to build on their success. This article will address what high school athletes should do moving forward in their training regimen now that summer is nearly over and they are back in school.
1. Know what season is your sport
The last thing any high school athlete wants to happen is to have dedicated their entire summer improving their athleticism only to lose it when school starts. Training should continue once school starts as well. How much? This largely depends on the season your sport is in. An athlete participating in a fall sport will not have the time and does not need a high volume of strength training compared to an athlete doing a winter or spring sport.
- Fall: The focus of in-season training is low volume/high intensity. In an ideal environment, a high school athlete’s strength should increase as they approach the post-season due to the intensity of their lifts. 2 days of short, intense lifting will benefit any healthy high school athlete.
- Winter and Spring: An athlete participating in either season can still afford to lift a high volume of weight. The key is to have a structured program where the athlete is worked but not to the point of fatigue before the season. Continuing to build their work capacity should be priority number one.
2. Maximize your off/light days
Recovery is an underrated but vital part of athletic success, especially at the high school level. Recovery includes sleeping, nutrition, foam rolling, contrast showers and mobility work. This means sleep at least eight hours, eat clean foods, and stay mobile by doing specific exercises.
If you have a true off day (most likely Sunday), take advantage of it by not doing much or anything at all. Chances are you have had a full week of practices and games even if your sport is in the off-season. Rest, rejuvenate and recover. It will allow you to stay relatively fresh for the entire year.
3. Trust your training
This point addresses the mental aspect of athletic performance. Many athletes I train struggle with their confidence heading into their season. They have anxiety about whether they will make the varsity squad and, if they do, how much playing time they will get and how they will perform. I urge them to worry ONLY about what YOU can control.
In this case, it’s their effort in practice and how hard they worked in the summer. If their effort in practice is maximized and they did all they could in the off-season to prepare for their season, then let everything else fall into place. Play relaxed and trust the training you did in the off-season.
4. Develop a routine for practice/games
Humans are creatures of habit, therefore we respond favorably to establishing a routine especially during the competition of sport. Find a routine that works for you and do it. It could be eating a certain healthy meal before a practice/game, listening to a certain song or incorporating some belly breathing to calm your nerves before a game. Whatever it is, DO IT CONSISTENTLY!!!!!
5. Reach out to your coach/trainer
This is one I really think is important. Many times trainers get a group of athletes for the summer, train them and once school starts will have no further contact with the athletes until summer comes around again. I admit I have been guilty of this. I found this could make the athlete detached and disconnected with their trainer. They may also feel they are just another athlete coming through the doors.
Within the last few years I have made a conscious effort to connect with each athlete I train and let them know I am here for them if they need me in any form. From the athlete’s perspective, don’t be afraid to reach out to your coach if you are struggling with any facet of your sport. Your coach may give you some good insight of what you may need to do to get out of your funk. I cultivate this relationship by attending games when I can, sending out motivational texts, or even giving them a phone call to check in on how their season is going.
Continuing the dialogue between player and coach will enhance your connection with the athlete and make it more likely they come back and train with you the following summer. LOVE your athletes ALL YEAR!
Director of Athletics & Personal Trainer
Fitness Quest 10
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