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How to Bring Your Best to Preseason Camp

Chuck Carter
Chuck Carter is the Head Athletic Trainer at Tilton School, and also teaches Anatomy and Physiology.

Preseason camps are a large part of preparation for the Fall athletic season at all schools. It allows teams to practice without other distractions and, many times, it is also when strong bonds are formed with your teammates.

By preparing for preseason, you are setting yourself up for a successful camp. If you don’t prepare, you could be in for a very tough, and painful, preseason both mentally and physically. Below are some tips and ideas to get you thinking about your summer plans and how you can be proactive in anticipation of a successful fall season.
 
Do you have proper footwear?
To get the most out of your training, you should be sure you have proper footwear. If you already own sneakers or cleats, check them sooner rather than later. Don't wait until camp to try them on! If you're buying sneakers or cleats for the first time, purchasing and wearing them over the summer will give your feet and lower body a chance to get acclimated. Proper break in can take 2-4 weeks!

Begin with walking for 10 to 15 minutes for the first two days and gradually add more time and intensity every two days. By the second week, you should be jogging/running. Returning for another season? Make sure your cleats or sneakers still fit and don't need to be replaced. Chances are you have grown since last fall and your feet haven't!

Is your fitness level ready?
Many kids have played organized sports at a youth level but may not be ready for 3-a-day practices over a short period of time. Having a good cardio base is a good start, but a preseason candidate should have at the very minimum been preparing for camp for upwards of 6 weeks.
 
This preparation should include agility, endurance, power, sport-specific skills of increasing intensity followed by static stretching for a minimum of 3 times per week with a rest day in between. This preparation will lessen the potential for overuse injuries going into camp.

Are you taking care of your skin?
Nothing is more painful than a sunburn that could have been prevented. Besides being excruciating and being the number one form of cancer affecting adolescents, sun burns can aid to dehydration.

Dehydration significantly affects your ability to perform athletically. While we do provide sunblock at pre-season camp, I recommend you bring some that has an SPF of at  least 30, is sweat proof and works for you. Other options are wearing long sleeve moisture wicking shirts with an SPF built in.

Do you have enough workout clothes?
Bring enough workout clothes for each session. It is likely you will sweat A LOT during camp. Moisture in the form of sweat increases the potential of blistering feet and heat being trapped close to the body. Having an extra pair of clothing to change into between sessions will help keep you comfortable and cool.

Are you paying attention to your flexibility?
Don’t underestimate the importance of flexibility! A large  amount of injuries we see early in the year are from muscles that are very tight. An easy way to avoid this is to incorporate dynamic warm-ups before working out and stretching immediately after you have finished your work out. Dynamic warm-ups mimic the workout you are about to perform and should be low intensity for about 10 minutes. Post stretching should focus on all the large muscle groups and any smaller ones you may have specifically worked on, think forearm stretches after a pitching sessions.

Have you talked to your coach yet?
Reach out to your coach sooner rather later. Your coach may have a strength and conditioning regimen prepared for their team. Often times there are fitness/strength testing during camp. Your coach may have an expectation of a base level fitness, so check in with them.

How’s your H2O intake?
One of the easiest ways to improve performance is to make sure you are hydrated. It may sound obvious, but make sure you include water in your daily diets. Water can found in foods such as watermelon, tomatoes, and oranges. Having a glass of water with each meal should help keep you hydrated. If you tend to be an super sweater or workout in hot and humid environments then extra water intake is recommended. A warning though:  too much water can also be potentially dangerous. If you are drinking too much water you may become disoriented and nauseous or vomit. If this occurs you should seek medical attention.

By following these steps, you'll be in tip-top shape when you arrive for preseason. See you in August!
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