How Student Athletes Can Stay in Shape Over Summer Break

Once school is out, kids and teens like to take it easy. They hang out by the pool, stay inside where it's cool and just generally relax. It's good for athletes to have this recovery period during the summer months, but they might want to add some training to their off-season, too.

Maintaining an Edge

One of the key benefits of summer training is preparedness, says Heath Thornton, MD, sports medicine specialist. "If the athlete plans to participate in fall or winter sports, not working out all summer is going to put them at a great disadvantage on day 1 of practice," he says.

Summer workouts can also help athletes better acclimate to the heat and humidity they'll face during early school year workouts. Just be sure your child or teen doesn't spend long periods of time in the summer sun.

Reduced Risk of Sports Injury

Off-season training helps ensure athletes are better conditioned for the more intense practices, games and matches they'll participate in during the school year. One of the best ways to prevent injuries, says Dr. Thornton, is to avoid too much routine and overuse during workouts. Mix it up with anything from swimming to hiking to resistance training.

A diverse routine will also help prevent boredom. "Summer offers a lot of opportunities to get outside and do something different while still getting in a good workout," says Dr. Thornton.

Off-Season Sports Training Tips

Dr. Thornton recommends adhering to the following tips while training during break:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid intense or long workouts outside during the hottest part of the day
  • Warm up with low-intensity exercise for 5-10 minutes before the workout
  • Engage in gentle stretching after warming up and before the workout

You may also want to talk to a certified athletic trainer, physical therapist or sports medicine doctor about an effective conditioning program for off-season training for your child. "These are good resources for designing workouts that improve performance and reduce injury risk," says Dr. Thornton.