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Top 5 Ways Athletes Should Spend Their Summers Off

(Flickr - Coach Lewis)

(Flickr – Coach Lewis)

I realize the term “summer off” is almost laughable to most student-athletes and their families.

Parents are still working, and the hours student-athletes normally filled with school are now, for the most part, just replaced with more activities to turn downtime into productive time.

So, fair. Maybe I should specify “summer off from school.”

That said: athletes should spend their summers off wisely to maximize their opportunities and get ahead of the game next season.

I turned to Coach Bob Chmiel, a veteran Division I football coach, recruiting expert, educational speaker (who just happens to be my dad) to get the top 5 ways athletes should spend their summer to stay on top of their game.

Get in the weight room.

“Summer is a great time to find a friend or teammate and make your own schedule in the weight room,” he says. “Without the structure of getting workouts in with your team and around your class schedule, summer strength training takes a lot of self-discipline and drive. Find a weekly rhythm that feels good to you, think of your toughest opponent, and get after it in the weight room this summer.”

Feeling intimidated? Listen to your body so you don’t get hurt, but don’t listen to that little voice inside your head. “The only person standing between you and the guy ahead of you is yourself. Get stronger this summer,” he says.

Get faster, stronger, smarter.

“Much like strength training, summer conditioning takes a great amount of self-discipline, but putting in the time and hard work is really not an option,” he says. “It’s a must, if you plan on showing up to fall ball faster, stronger, and a better overall player than where you left off.

“Aside from team conditioning and runs, use the summer to have some fun with working out. Get a couple buddies and hit the beach for a run, something you may not have had time for during the school year. It’s imperative you stay conditioned in the summer.

“I can’t stress it enough – mix it up, get it done, and be that ‘WOW story’ when you return to your team in the Fall.”

Continue to hit the books.

Yeah, yeah. I know what you’re thinking. But hear Coach Chmiel out:

“Just like your body needs to continue to be worked out, getting back into the swing of things at school in the fall will come so much easier if you keep your mind conditioned, too,” he says. “I don’t mean study your Chemistry book cover-to-cover, but maybe find out what some of your required reading is going to be next year, or some English projects you’re going to have to fulfill, and get ahead of the game.

“I promise you any teacher will take the time to help you get ahead with your reading but it may be up to you to ask for the help. If all else fails, take some time this summer to read a book that just looks interesting to you, something fun or that you wouldn’t have time to read during the school year. It will do wonders for you now, and is a great habit to start for the future.”

Find the best camp or combine for you, and attend it.

“I can’t tell you how many questions I get regarding the value of camps and combines and which to attend – and how happy I am to tackle this question for anyone in need of some guidance,” Coach Chmiel says.

“The value of attending a camp–or camps–all depends on your particular circumstance. That being said, some general guidelines for this particular list start with calling the coach from the school holding the camp. Find out exactly why you were invited to the camp. In other words, do they want to get a better look at you as a serious contender for a roster spot at their school?

“If they do, and it’s a school you’re interested in, the camp would be worth attending If you find they are not interested in you, find out what other college coaches will be working the camp. Many coaches will work camps at multiple schools throughout the summer, and a coach from another school that interests you and/or has interest in you, may be at another school’s camp.

“Across the board my two biggest pieces of advice are to attend three, one-day camps over one, three-day camp, and use camps as a tool to get to know a campus, school, and staff better.”

Make good choices.

“Let’s be honest – summer should be about putting downtime into productive time, but it should also be about having some fun,” Coach Chmiel says. “Some of the greatest memories I share with my wife and daughters happened with family and friends in the summer months.”

But be smart about it. “There will be parties, you will face pressure to drink, to stay out passed your curfew, to make bad decisions under the carefree disguise of summer days and nights,” he says. “Have fun this summer, but nothing is worth jeopardizing your future over. Err on the side of caution, while still relaxing a little, but keep your eye on the prize – make yourself and your family proud. Being a collegiate student-athlete will bring far more fun and reward then a summer night out in high school. I promise you that.”


Do you have more questions about how you can spend your summer preparing for your sport? Or which camp is best for you? Our scouts can help you decide. The best first step is to build a profile.

About the author
Andy McKernan

Andy McKernan is the content strategist at NCSA Athletic Recruiting. A content marketer with a background in creative writing, Andy brings several years of experience to NCSA.