For the majority of high school athletes who are playing a fall sport, summer camp officially starts in two weeks. I can think back to when I was in high school and this was a very exciting time for athletes. If you are a freshman you have no idea what to expect as you make the jump to high school sports; if you are going to be a senior you have a very good idea of what your coach will expect from you on day one of camp. With that being said, in order to ensure that you are ready for “two-a-day” practices, I would like to share some tips that may make the transition smoother from summer vacation to practice.
I understand that teams have been “training” for most of the summer. Some kids have been participating in voluntary practices as well as team “speed camps”. If you have been training all summer then the transition to mandatory summer camp will be easier. However, even the best athletes still need to plan for day one of summer camp.
Here are some training tips that may help you stay healthy as well as get the attention of the coaching staff:
Tip No. 1. Plan out the next two weeks: Look at the calendar and even if you are on vacation you still need to train as well as rest. Most teams will start their workouts on Monday, August 12. Take a look at what you have planned and set up a schedule that has you training every other day. There is no need to train every day before camp. However, I would recommend that you spend this time on conditioning as well some extra skill work for your sport.
Tip No. 2. Test yourself before camp: Most high school coaches require that their athletes complete some type of conditioning test. Some teams require their athletes to run 1 mile in under 7 minutes. Other coaches set up a series of tests to complete (i.e. shuttle runs, vertical jump, lifting test). Whatever test you are expected to perform do test this BEFORE day one of camp. I would recommend that you test yourself this week to see how you do. Be honest with yourself. If you are required to run a 7 minute mile and you test out by running7:20 per mile than you know exactly where you stand and what you need to do in order to pass the test. Don’t let the first day of camp be the first time you do the required testing.
Tip No. 3. Train the appropriate energy systems for your sport: If you are a soccer player focus on repeat sprints as well as shuttle runs. Assuming you have developed a good aerobic base (i.e. endurance) this is a good time to focus on speed work as well as some lactic capacity (i.e. 1-2 minute high intensity runs w/ 60-90 seconds of rest). If you are a football player focus on repeat sprints. An example would be to head to the track or field and after a good warm-up complete the following workout.
- Set(s) of 15 x 25 yd. sprints with 45 seconds rest in between. Each run is done at 100 percent effort.
- Rest five (5) minutes.
- Set(s)10 x 20 yd. runs with 45 seconds rest in between. Each run is done at 100 percent effort.
- Cool down
Note: Feel free to add in a change of direction (i.e. agility/transition) run for either of these options. Here is an example of a transition run: Lateral crossover continuous and sprint
This is the time to focus more on specific energy needs rather than general physical training.
Tip No. 4: Wake up early and train: The majority of high school athletes I speak to tell me that their training camps will be held in the morning (7 or 8 a.m.) If this is the case then you need to make sure that you start to wake up early and train at this time. If you have been sleeping in every day this summer until 10 a.m. you will have a rude awakening on day one of preseason camp. I would recommend that you do the following assuming you start camp at 7:00 a.m.:
6:00 a.m.- Wake-up
6:10 a.m.- Big glass of water with a light breakfast (I would recommend that you add some seal salt to a drink if possible)
6:20 a.m.- Pack up some water along with a sports drink and head out to the track, field or beach (wherever you will do your training)
6:30 a.m.- Start your warm-up routine: Dynamic warm-up
6:50 a.m.- Start the main portion of your workout
7:45 a.m.- Head home and eat a good breakfast
Tip No. 5: Have a nutrition and hydration plan for camp. Most sports will require that the kids train twice per day. Some coaches will allow their athletes to go home between sessions. Other coaches require that the kids stay at school all day for the workouts. Whatever the case may be have nutrition and hydration plan in place.
List of foods & drink I would bring to training in a container/bag:
- Two (2) bananas
- Protein shake (freeze it the night before)
- Grilled chicken sandwich if you have to stay between sessions. Add sea salt to the sandwich.
- Two (2) large water bottles
- Bag of regular potato chips (eat a handful if you have lost a lot of sweat during the workout. A handful is okay at this time)
Note: You don’t need to bring all of this food however, I would recommend that you have a lunch bag and have several options to choose from especially fruits as well as some protein.
Tip No. 6: Buy a foam roller. I can guarantee that after the first session kids will be sore. They will complain of their hamstrings, quads and adductors being sore. Several kids will develop shin splints after the first week. Although this is not as good as a manual therapist, I would recommend that you purchase a foam roller. The foam roller that I like is called the GRID. Ideally this would be used both before as well as after the workout. If you do not want to take the roller with you to training then at the very least I would get up a little earlier and do this before you leave the house as well as when you get home. It’s also great to do before you go to bed to help alleviate some muscle soreness. Spend 5-10 minutes each time you use the foam roller and make sure that you are breathing properly (diaphragmatic) as you do this. Here is one movement that you do with the foam roller. Make sure that when you do this particular movement that you do not place the foam roller on your low back. Stay in the middle to upper portion of your back.
One final point I want to make is that during these final two weeks I want you to enjoy some time away from your sport. You absolutely need to train during this time, however, keep the sessions short and allow a day in between for recovery. By now you should be in good shape. Use this time to implement some high intensity work as well as some vacation time with your family and friends. The key thing to remember is that on day one you want to make a good impression to your coaching staff so take the necessary steps to ensure that you leave a positive impression.
Kevin Miller is the strength and conditioning coach for the Philadelphia Union. For more on Miller and the Union, visit philadelphiaunion.com.
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