Summer Training, Camps and Exercise

Summertime is one of the most vital periods in a young athlete’s career. Staying consistently active during summer vacation can be one of the most, if not the most, important determining factor in whether you child establishes healthy living habits and develops general athleticism. Over the summer more competitive teen athletes have a prime opportunity to catch up to their teammates and even surpass competitors in fitness, strength and skill.

Parents will spend more than $600 per child on summer activities according to a recent survey by American Express. That includes activities such as sports teams, pool memberships and camps. Parents have a number of options for helping their athletes make the most of summer training and a popular choice is enlisting their child in sports camps or clinics.

Camps offer several benefits and present positive opportunities for an athlete. They provide consistent activity and routine guidance on various elements of a sport over the course of several days. For young athletes, camps are not only an introduction to group training but are also a great way for your child to get socially acclimated to organized sports groups and get more practice playing with other athletes and campmates.

Unfortunately, camps often last just a few days or weeks and mistakenly many athletes and parents think participation at a summer camp checks the box off on summer training. Camps are not the sole solution for keeping your athlete active and working toward their goals over the summer. Camps will not replace three months of consistent training and exercise.

At the youth sports level parents will need to make a conscious decision on how to keep their athlete active during the off-season. A team coach should provide guidance to an entire team on what athletes can be doing for conditioning, but for young athletes, parents play a crucial role in keeping children motivated and active. We recommend having a discussion with your child’s coach in order to identify areas that your child should be focusing on outside of conditioning.

Parents can help their athlete by making exercise a routine and daily occurrence. Even parents without a sports background can help their athlete by timing them, counting reps, completing drills alongside their athlete as well as taking their child on bike rides, trail runs or to a local swimming pool for open swim during the off season. Your child will reap the most value from their camps if they are fit going in and reap the benefits maintaining fitness after the camp. Come preseason the transition to regular practice

will not be abrupt or a shock. Your athlete will begin his or her season in shape, which will lead to better confidence in play and reduced anxiety. Coaches will take note, just ask former NFL player and CoachUp coach Izaan Cross. “For young players especially, conditioning always serves as a giveaway for the type of work that a player has put in during the offseason,” Cross said. “You can also tell if a player has stayed active or partaken in summer training camp by questioning their knowledge of the game. If they can answer questions that they wouldn’t have been able to answer the prior season, or they don’t make the same mistakes that they made the prior season, they most likely continued their growth as an athlete during the offseason.”  Beyond impressing the coach, regular exercise completed outdoors will prepare your child for the rigors of pre-season training and reduce their risk of heat related illnesses keeping them safe.

As for the perfect summer training blend, aim to be active every day and have a few days off. Cross said that for a child age 5-10 years old usually an hour session of exercise a few days a week would be sufficient. “That can be at a camp or clinic, private coaching, cross training with friends, training individually or with a parent, general exercising,” he clarified.

Looking at older athletes is also key through “film study, speed training, flexibility work, and weight room availability becomes vital for an athlete especially once you get in the upper teenage years,” Cross said.

Potential star athletes often show high general athletic ability before learning the nuances of a sport; improving general fitness and strength will make your child a contender for making top teams and starting positions down the road. Regardless of a child’s future career as an athlete, adopting a routine of exercise will help your child establish life-long healthy habits.

Pros of sports camps:

  • Camps last a few days or weeks.
  • Local camps allow your child to practice with nearby athletes he/she might see at practice or at inner-league competition.
  • Local camps allow your child to spend more time bonding with someone who might potentially be their team coach.
  • Out of state camps provide your child an opportunity to be exposed to different coaching styles or training.
  • Out of state camps allow your child to meet new athletes from other areas, improving their quality of training and potentially creating new friendships.

Cons of camps

  • Often an athlete is one of many athletes and does not get individual attention.
  • An athlete could learn bad habits from other athletes should they not feel comfortable seeking guidance or asking guidance from a camp coach.
  • Should an athlete get sick or injured at the beginning of camp the value of the camp diminishes.
  • Camps need to make money or break even, and do so by getting as many athletes to sign up. Your child may not be getting the individual attention you thought he would get.
  • Camps routines and regimes are tailored for the group; an individual need may be overlooked or not addressed.
  • Athletes may learn bad habits while waiting in line to do group drills or a bad form may be missed in a large training group.
  • Camps are expensive.