Summer Conditioning for High School Athletes

Any school break can be a training challenge for high school athletes, but summer has unique issues. Not only is the time off from school and practice longer
than at other breaks, but summer heat also adds a formidable risk factor.

Unquestionably, consistent conditioning is vital for athletes to maintain competitive fitness. The risk of injury increases when lengthy summer downtime leads to a mad dash preparation for fall sports. On the other hand, summer break offers young athletes an opportunity to rest and rejuvenate—both physically and mentally. Extended, rigorous routines can breed boredom and burnout.

How can you strike a balance? Ideally, summer workouts will include training for strength and flexibility while focusing on building sport-specific skills. Other recommendations include:

● Alternating routines to keep interest high while reducing the risk of overuse injuries;
● Building endurance gradually, with attention to adequate warm-ups and stretching;
● Eating a well-balanced diet, with sufficient protein and carbohydrates to fuel an active body; and
● Getting adequate rest and sleep.

Of greatest concern is the need for hydration. Summer heat and humidity speed the body’s rate of dehydration, with potentially life-threatening consequences. Athletes need to drink plenty of water before, during and after workouts.

Talk to us about an individualized workout plan tailored to your child’s training needs and summer schedule. Incorporate “portable fitness” into your family vacation with opportunities for walking, jogging, biking and swimming. Athletes can cut back on sport-specific training for up to two weeks, provided they remain active. Look for hotels and community centers with exercise equipment while on the road. In addition, many colleges and athletic organizations offer summer sports camps.

With some forethought and planning, summer can be a break from routine while providing ample opportunity for high school athletes to stay in shape.