When Alice Cooper released “School’s Out” in 1972, high school athletics weren’t year round endeavors. There were no 7 on 7 tournaments, travel baseball and softball teams did not exist, and AAU’s primary focus was to get players from many different sports ready for the international play and the Olympics.
Summer used to be a time to slow down, hang out with friends late into the night, sleep until noon, or maybe even pick up an extra shift at your summer job. For athletes today, summer is time to focus on honing your athletic skills, improving your strength, speed, endurance, and preparing your body for the upcoming seasons. Because one thing is sure; right now your opponent is getting better in order to beat you. Are you doing the things you are supposed to do?
Staying hydrated is always important especially in the summertime heat. It’s important to weigh before and after every workout and consume 2-3 cups of water or sports drink for every pound lost during exercise. Water is great but if you are exercising for long periods of time, consuming a sports drink within 30 minutes after the workout will benefit you more due to the added carbs in the sports drink. Make sure you are checking your urine color for hydration status. Remember, you want it to look like lemonade, not apple juice.
Proper nutrition is key if you want to get the most out of your time spent in the weight room. Timing your snacks or meals is an important part of the equation. 3 hours prior to a workout or competition is the ideal time to eat a meal, however that is not always possible. If your workout is in the early morning, make sure you wake up in time to eat something. If you only have 30 minutes to an hour before a workout, keep it light with a granola bar/sports bar and a sports drink. If you have 1-2 hours prior to your workout, your breakfast should consist of fruit, whole grain toast or bagel with a little peanut butter, and 16 ounces of water or sports drink. Stay away from sugary cereals, whole milk, and high fat meats.
One of the most overlooked components of your plan should be getting the proper amount of sleep. Studies have shown that athletes who get 9.5 hours of sleep per night have improved proprioception (sense of body position) and reduced injury rates. If you find it difficult to fall asleep, lower the light level in your house or room 30-60 minutes prior to going to bed. Also, put a curfew on your technology. Make a decision to put your gadgets away and stop checking social media by 9pm.
Make no mistake; summer should be some of the best times of your life. Spending summer with family and friends and enjoying time away from class are some of my best childhood memories. However, you can still enjoy your summer while preparing your body for the season ahead. But it takes planning and commitment, something today’s athlete should already be accustomed to doing.
*This article was written by Encore ATC, Eric Oehms.