Tips for summer-training success for young athletes

It’s getting close to the end of the school year, and young athletes will soon begin their pre-season conditioning, which will include various camps or school based programs.

To maximize their performance and stay healthy, I’d like to share some important tips to help them perform their best, and come to the game stronger, faster, and better than in their previous season. There are three critical components to performance at pre-season conditioning. These components are:
  •  Rest
  •  Nutrition
  •  Hydration

 Getting a solid night of sleep all through training camp is important because your body does the most healing and repairing from the previous day’s activities during rest. According to the National Sleep Foundation, recommended sleep for teenagers is around nine hours per night.

If you train in a “two a day” camp, make sure you get a 20 to 30-minute nap between sessions. Being sleep deprived can severely hamper your focus and concentration, which in turn hamper your overall performance.

Here’s how to make sleep work for you:
  •  Make sleep a priority in your training schedule.
  •  Increase your sleep time several weeks before a major competition.
  •  Go to bed and wake up at the same times every day.
  •  Take daily naps if you don’t get enough sleep each night.

Proper basic nutrition is a constant area of weakness for many young athletes. Most of their daily diets consist of junk food snacks and a good dinner. No good.
Quality of food and proper meal timing are a cornerstone of championship-level performance. At the very least, eating a good breakfast an hour before practice can really explode energy levels and turbo-boost performance. After-practice nutrition is also key. Having a recovery drink that consists of a 2 to 1 ratio of carbs to protein can help recovery tremendously.

To this day I still can’t believe some coaches still encourage players go without water during hard practices. This is old school, ignorant and downright dangerous. Water isn’t something an athlete earns, it is a necessity. An athlete can lose between 5 and 8 pounds of water during a hard physical activity. We also know that sweat losses of as little as 2 percent of body weight (3 pounds in a 150-pound athlete) can accelerate fatigue and slow recovery. In high temperatures, dehydration can even be fatal.

An athlete should keep hydrated throughout a conditioning session with an electrolyte- and carbohydrate-enhanced drink like Gatorade or Powerade.  The sodium and potassium in theses drinks help increase water retention, and the flavor encourages the athlete to drink more often.

 By training hard and always considering these three bits of information, you are setting yourself up for success. Moreover, you  ensure that you have the best shot at crushing it at camp.

Chad Smith is a Hagerstown personal trainer and co-owner of Home Team Fitness LLC. Go to for more information.

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