Hey Coach,

My son is entering high school next year. He was a starter on his 8th grade team, but the HS players seem so much larger and faster than him. I’m worried that freshman year will find him on the bench. How should I prepare him this summer?
– High School High Anxiety

Dear HSHA,

High school sports mark a big shift in intensity and competition. The stakes are greater, the audiences larger, and the competition tougher. Additionally, many teams will have 18-year-old starters practicing next to 14-year-old freshman. For many young athletes, this can be both intimidating and inspiring. So what should your athlete do? Prepare.
Unfortunately, the lure of summer is to “take summer off”; letting valuable time go to waste while the competition is improving. Yet the opposite can also be dangerous; competing all summer can lead to burnout and overtraining. A good middle ground is to treat summer as offseason – preparing for a sport without playing competitively. There are many ways to train in the offseason, but they all follow a basic pattern: get stable, get strong, get smart.

  • Get Stable – Many athletes believe that playing the game is the only work needed. While playing definitely makes you better, athletes often ignore nagging injuries or weak areas in order to continue playing. Now is the time to address those issues. A good Summer Performance Training program will have stability and injury prevention built in.

  • Get Strong – Once you have addressed stability, it’s important to increase power. In high school, a win or loss can be decided by who lasts longest. Summer is ideal for developing the stamina needed to win. If you are competing in running sports such as soccer, basketball, or football, a Speed Training program can rapidly gain results. If you are in an explosive sport such as baseball, wrestling, or volleyball, an Athletic Lifting program can change your game.
  • Get Smart – One of the best opportunities is to gain new skills. A good private coach can deliver invaluable tools for the next level of play. Working with a private coach can also let you ask questions that you can’t ask the team coach, like “how do I beat out the starting junior?” or “how can I respectfully disagree with my school coach?”

Finally, it’s natural for many entering freshman to be intimidated by the high school team, and natural for parents to want to shelter them from disappointments like getting benched. Yet good parenting is not protecting them from disappointment, its preparing them for challenges. If you help your athlete think about the summer as their offseason, they will enter high school prepared.

– Coach Grant

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