As the school year winds down parents are faced with
the dilemma of planning a summer for their athletes that will not only be
productive but will allow for some fun as well. After all, they are still kids!
So I thought I’d put together some thoughts on strategies to help parents make
the most of their athlete’s summer vacation.
some down time: One of the best things that you can do for
your athlete is to give them a break. Scheduling some time away from their
sport will do wonders to keep them fresh and recharge their batteries. Go on a
family vacation, even if it’s just visiting relatives for a few days. It will
help to bring the family together and get them away from their coaches and
teammates for a while. They’re only young once, so try to enjoy them and let
them relax for a while.
don’t let your athlete take this to an extreme by going on 3 or 4 beach trips, getting lazy and not doing
anything to get better as an athlete. Summer should be fun, but it’s also a
great time to train without the pressures of school and classroom work.
sport related activities wisely: With all the pressures of trying to get noticed by college scouts, athletes
turn their attention to combines, prospect camps and showcases. When it comes
to youth and high school sports, kids and parents feel the need to attend one
of these events every weekend to “be seen.” This can be an exhausting and
financially taxing way to spend a summer. I get asked for advice on this all
the time and I think it’s way over done. It’s getting to the point that we’re
more focused on showcasing talent rather than
improving as an athlete and as a player. Is your athlete really putting in the
“the work” that’s necessary to get better, or is he/she just training to be a
Getting a college scholarship is very competitive and I completely
understand the pressure that these kids face. However, athletes (and parents)
often get so caught up in the “being seen” part that they fail to do the
important stuff like increasing technical skills, getting stronger and faster
and improving their overall athleticism.
Getting better gets you noticed!
experience will definitely help an athlete mature in his or her sport, but the
lack of fundamentals and off-season training can lead to devastating results.
At a recent event held at Next Level, hall of fame lacrosse Coach Dave Urick
gave his take on the subject. “All of these team camps and showcases have led
to a lack of instruction and focus on skills. This leads to a lack of skill in
a lot of our athletes.” Urick also said,
“In recruiting players, we’re always looking for bigger, faster, stronger
athletes that we can teach the game to and improve their skills.”
how do you find the balance between being seen and getting better, and which is
more important? In my professional opinion,
getting better always gives you a chance. As long as your goal is to keep
improving, you’ll turn out to be a good player or possibly a great player. If
you’re a great player, scouts will find you. The vast majority of athletes end
up playing in college at the level that coincides with the player that they
are. Focus on getting better every day. It always amazes me how University of
Alabama Football Coach Nick Saban can keep winning championships, yet when you
hear him talk about his philosophy he never mentions championships, especially
to his players. He only talks about getting better. Day-in and day-out: getting
better every day! I think he’s the best coach in college football today and his
four national championships are hard to argue.
overuse Injuries by training smart: Along with the intensity
that comes with playing in showcase camps every weekend is the risk of overuse
injuries; these are well documented.
The physical demands of competitive sports are increasing, much of that due to a rise in year round travel
team sports, no practice or play
restrictions, and the athlete’s early sport specialization. However, there are
ways to combat those injuries: a good
strength and conditioning program combined with good nutrition and well
thought-out recovery strategies.
recently attended a week-long mentorship at Athlete’s
Performance in Phoenix, AZ. I was amazed at the time they spent educating
their athletes (mostly elite level) on nutrition and recovery. We talked a lot
about breakfast strategies, pre-game and post-game nutrition and hydration
strategies, as well as the importance of sleep. If it’s important at the elite
level, it should be even more important for a 12 to 18 year-old because their
bodies are still developing. In fact,
it’s importance made such an impact on me that at Next Level this summer, we
are adding nutrition and recovery education into all of our summer athlete
Try these 3 simple strategies in planning your
athlete’s summer vacation!
Strategy #1: Plan some fun! Create some memories! Take your kids on a
family vacation even if it’s a long weekend at your relatives in Chicago or a
week at the beach.
Strategy #2: Pick one skills camp and/or one showcase
tournament. Have your athlete list 2-5 colleges that he/she is interested in
attending. Reach out to those coaches to see if there is mutual interest. If
so, do your best to get your athlete in front of those coaches, but don’t chase
them all over the country, make a choice that will deliver the most “bang for
your buck” and prepare for a great camp. You never know what kind of attention
you can attract.
Strategy #3: Get in a good off-season training program
that combines Strength & Conditioning, Speed & Agility, as well as
Nutritional and Recovery Strategies. Not a one week speed & agility camp,
but ongoing training that will help them improve and develop good training
Have a fun AND productive summer vacation with your
athlete! You will both see the rewards!