As the Labor Day weekend passes and students return to school across the country, most young athletes have completed their summer seasons and will be soon preparing for the fall. After of all the time, effort, and hard work put in over the course of the summer, it is crucial for players to end on a high note and solidify all of the gains that they were able to make. Here are a few things that every player can do, regardless of age or skill level, to make the most of their summer and put themselves in a great position for a successful fall:
- Review your pre-season goals and evaluate. Every player should always be setting goals or creating landmarks that they would like to reach both in the short-term and the long-term. At the end of each season, the player should review the goals they were working towards to see if they met them, exceeded them, or came up short. For those that were met or exceeded, the player should set new goals in that area at a higher level of difficulty. For the goals that weren’t quite achieved, the player now knows that they need to continue to improve on.
- Take note of how you match up to others. Objectively viewing yourself compared to others in one of the hardest things for a player (or their parents) to do. However, it is important to evaluate your general talent level after every season, especially the summer. There are so many options for young athletes these days, its important for a player’s development for them to be playing at the correct talent level. Each offering -Little League, travel ball, AAU, USSSA, Babe Ruth, Cal Ripken, etc.- offers something a little different in terms of competition, depending on the age group and location. It can really hold a player back to either play at too high, or too low, of a competition level. If you hit .700 and dominated those around you, it may have been fun, but if you want to get better you need to find tougher competition. On the other hand, if you struggled or didn’t get much playing time, there is nothing wrong with finding a different place to play where you feel like you will get a more worth while experience. The key here is trying to be as realistic as possible, while at the same time making sure you continue to push yourself.
- Step back for a moment and regroup. There has to be a time of the year where you take a step back from whatever you are doing and take a break. For baseball players who were playing tournaments all summer, this may be playing football or basketball instead of fall baseball. If you were on the field constantly all summer, take some time to hit the gym hard to make sure you are developing off of the field. There comes a time where doing the same thing over and over can cause you to burn out, or you can start to develop bad habits. Even more importantly, everyone needs to make sure they get off on a solid start academically when the school year begins.
- Consider the long-term. When you get busy with school, sports, etc., your future plans can quickly get neglected. This is why it is important at the end of the summer to begin to think about what your long-term goals for the next year will be, and begin to do what you can to prepare. If your goal is to get recruited, start researching and contacting colleges, or find camps and showcases you may want to attend. If you plan on playing for a new team the next summer, begin to reach out to those coaches and find out when their tryouts will be. Many young players make the mistake of getting so caught up in the present that they miss out on doing the things that will set them up for success over the course of the upcoming months or years. Try to get ahead of the curve and stay there.