Summer presents endless opportunities for self-improvement. It’s amazing how much your schedule opens up when the eight-hour school day is eliminated. However, don’t be fooled by your newfound leisure; squandering your summer can be costly. You don’t want to work inefficiently during July and August and be frustrated come September.
Here are some tips for making the most of your summer vacation:
1. Take an unofficial visit(s).
Yes, it’s summer and college campuses won’t be packed with vibrant students and there won’t be big football games to check out, but the coaches are still around. Losing some of the campus flair might seem like a downside, but it allows you to focus on the coaches and the campus itself. Make a list of questions and take them with you; it will be just you and the coaches.
2. Get some rest — both mentally and physically.
The trend is to compete year-round, and there are plenty of events and showcases to attend during the summer to play in front of college coaches. I’m not telling you to miss those, but have you heard of the dead period in the recruiting calendar? Coaches can’t attend everything, so find out your sport’s dead period and take a break. You pound and pound on your body; it deserves some rest and an opportunity to recover. Rest and recovery will ultimately help you perform better.
And as awesome as sports are, competition is mentally taxing as well. The most successful people — both inside and outside of athletics — understand the importance of time away and allowing yourself to rejuvenate. Take a vacation; give yourself a few consecutive days off.
The summer is your chance to really delve into some cross- training. It’s hot out, so try a pool workout — it’s far less abuse on your lower extremities without sacrificing the quality of work. Visiting the beach? Do anything in the sand; it’s great for your legs. Let some of your other muscles get in on the action.
4. Give your diet a healthy boost.
You can’t go wrong with summer fruits; they’re packed with nutrients and vitamins. Peaches, plums, any type of berries (they’re loaded with antioxidants) are just a few of the summer staples that can do you good.
5. Drink lots of water!
It’s hot and you’re still training but probably sweating more and feeling more exhausted from the sun. Keep a bottle of water with you and drink up; dehydration is a beast, especially during the summer. You don’t want to get too familiar with those temporarily debilitating muscle cramps.
6. Read a sports book.
School’s out, but you don’t want your brain to turn to complete mush. Pick up a book on something you’re passionate about. Tons of athletes and coaches have written about the valleys and mountaintops of their careers. You’ll come to appreciate success on a different level. Whether the book provides some inspiration or turns into a guide for you to follow, it helps to exercise that muscle between your ears. Besides, your mental game is just as important as the physical play.
7. Watch film.
Summer is a good time to focus on developing the areas of your game that are weak, but you need to go about it strategically. Sit down with someone whose opinion you trust (like a coach) and watch yourself on film. The visual helps you see yourself in reality and not what you think you’re doing in your mind. You’ll understand why coach kept asking if you were tired when you watch the tape. From there, make a plan and execute it. You’d hate for September to roll around and realize you neglected that hole in your game.
8. Work a sports camp with kids.
Breaking it down to the bare fundamentals to teach little ones helps you as well. You’ll be reminding yourself of the way things were taught to you, and you’ll notice some of the bad habits you may have picked up along the way. Besides that, the energy and enthusiasm of kids can be infectious. They just want to play; they haven’t yet been tainted by the pressure to find a college scholarship.
How are you going to spend your summer vacation? Let us know in the comment section.
Monica McNutt was an All-Met basketball player at Holy Cross Academy who went on to star for the Georgetown women’s team. She will be offering advice to high school athletes who are looking to make the leap to college sports
Got a question for Monica, or an idea she can use for a future post? Leave it here in the comments, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @__MCM__.
Competing alongside your friends (May 30, 2012)
Dealing with a coaching change (May 3, 2012)
Taking advantage of social media (April 24, 2012)
Recruiting resources (April 18, 2012)
Managing the expectations of multiple coaches (March 27, 2012)
Coping with the ‘bad’ coach (March 20, 2012)
Dealing with injury (March 13, 2012)
The dual-sport dilemma (Feb. 20, 2012)
Making the most of your college experience (Feb. 14, 2012)
Handling your parents and coaches (Feb. 7, 2012)
Dealing with that special breed of fans: Your parents (Jan. 24, 2012)
Advice for the young star athlete (Jan. 17, 2012)
Offseason is right time to get with the program (Jan. 3, 2012)
Managing to stay close to the game (Dec. 20, 2011)
Leadership, Tebow-style (Dec. 13, 2011)
The importance of attitude (Dec. 6, 2011)
Fine-tuning your “mistake response” (Nov. 22, 2011)
Looking beyond the stat sheet (Nov. 15, 2011)
Battling the “dumb jock” stereotype (Nov. 8, 2011)
Taking advantage of your athletic resume (Nov. 1, 2011)
College recruiting: Finding a program that fits you (Oct. 25, 2011)
Secrets to success: Food and rest (Oct. 11, 2011)
Introducing “Transition Game” (Oct. 4, 2011)