When I was younger, summer was thought of as the time when I can do all the things I need to do to get better for my sports.  You could play in a summer league or go to a few camps and feel like you were getting something accomplished.

In fact, when I started my business 20 years ago, summer was a popular time to get athletes to train with you.  It was one of the bigger periods of the year for specialty training.

Now, that isn’t quite the case.

Summer is busy.  So busy, that if you get 3 weeks of consecutive training with someone you are lucky.

If your kid plays on a travel team (doesn’t matter the sport), they could be busy right up to July.  They might have a little break and then they are back at it in August.  And when I say the sport doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t.  Every sport seems to be doing something in the summer – baseball, softball, lax, basketball, soccer, track, volleyball.  You name it, there is a club team playing in the summer for it.

With that being said, how should an athlete approach summer?

Here are my thoughts as I really try to examine what is in the best interest for the athlete:

  • What is the age of the athlete? – A high school athlete is going to have different demands then a 10 year old. A high school athlete has to contend with high school coaches and their demands while a 10 year old should still be playing multiple sports and trying different things.  When looking at the other categories, take into consideration the age of the athlete and how “serious” the sport is at that age.
  • Sport camps – We used to go to these camps all the time as kids. This might be a good idea for a younger athlete to get more exposure to the sport, but beware.  How well can your kid adapt to playing with a bunch of strange little kids?  Your kid might be reserved and get very little out of the camp.  As your kid gets into the junior high years, I think you avoid these camps.  It is a waste of money.  Spend your money on private or semi-private training and you’ll get much more out of it for the kid then a week long camp.
  • Sport camps with your team – Now this is something a little different. Sport camps got the idea to have entire teams come out and play each other.  Throw a few outside coaches “instructing” into the mix and teams can circumvent the rules so coaches can see what they have.  This might be valuable for an athlete if he/she needs to be seen by the coach.  Meaning, coaches want to see these kids in game environment so they know what they have prior to tryouts.  I’d go to probably one of these to make face time.
  • Open gym/fields – This is where the athlete should go the majority of time in my opinion. Drills are drills, but coaches want to see how you interact during pickup games.  If you feel confident in your abilities, but your actual skill of the game is not up to par with other players, then you need to participate in these open fields to prove yourself.  Go to as many as you can and work your tail off non-stop.  Trust me, THESE are your tryouts.  Coaches will notice everything that you do or not do during these pickup games.
  • Team conditioning – This is an easy way to get brownie points. Just go and do the runs that are set up with the team so you can at least get into cardio shape.  Typically these might be during an open gym/field or at a separate time.  Plan on going to a couple of these a week.  If you ignore these, then you better be doing conditioning on your own.  You need to report in serious shape.  Someone who is out of shape, will soon be out of a coach’s mind.
  • Team lifting – This is tough call. Typically, the team liftings have way too many people in there for it to be productive for most athletes.  Form isn’t paid attention to.  Kids distract other kids and don’t do the proper weight.  Coaches will make this mandatory, but if you can get some private training in this area, your kid will be better off.  In the long run, coaches just want a stronger/faster athlete.  If private training isn’t an option, then this will suffice, but the athlete must be proactive and try to push him/herself appropriately.
  • Improving the skill of the sport – This needs to be assessed and you need to decide on how much more of an impact you will make on the team if this improves. Are you hitting .200?  What can you do to improve your hitting?  Assess what is holding you back as an athlete and then work to improve that skill.  You might have to trump some of the other categories if you need a lot of improvement.
  • Improving your athleticism – When assessing how your skill needs to be improved, you need to look at your overall athleticism (speed and strength). Are you hitting .200 because you can’t make contact or because your hits barely get out of the infield and it takes you forever to run to first?  If your athleticism is not where it should be then you might have to do something drastic.  Don’t go to any of the above and focus on this.   Trust your speed and strength will improve dramatically and as you get closer to tryouts slowly integrate some team activities.  Having not seen you for awhile, your coaches will be impressed by how much you have changed athletically and this could be a game changer to making the team, getting playing time, etc.

Feel free to comment in the box below if you agree or disagree with what I’m saying.  Did I miss anything?  Let me know.