Wes Emmert: Athletes should make the most of summer

Athletes, coaches, and parents summer is right around the corner and now is the time to start thinking how you will spend the nine summer weeks from the time school is out to fall sports.

Athletes, summer is a great opportunity to prepare for your respective sports. The first question to ask yourself as an athlete is where do I want to go in my sport(s)? Am I content to be on the team and be a role player? Am I content to be a contributor? Do I want to improve from last year and make a significant impact? An answer to each of these questions is essential to plotting the summer.

It's okay to participate as a role player. Some athletes merely like being on the team and helping where they can.

Others want to excel. For those who want to ascend to the next level, offseason training is a vital and crucial element to help them achieve that goal. For the majority of athletes, the school year is often filled not only with the sport season, but other distractions that take away from training. The training I am referring to in the offseason is strength and conditioning.

The benefits to strength and conditioning are the foundation to an effective athlete. The primary goal of strength and conditioning is to reduce the chance of sport related injuries. If an athlete can report to the preseason in the best possible condition he or she can be, their chance of injuries can be greatly reduced. Injuries are notorious for occurring when athletes are not in the proper condition for their respective sport and or when they are in a fatigued state.


Sports are getting to the level that demand year-round participation, leaving little to no time for strength and conditioning. This can create a weak link leading to a season-ending injury or a nagging one that prohibits an athlete from reaching their performance potential.

A comprehensive strength and conditioning program should incorporate, warm-up, flexibility, resistance, speed, agility, quickness, and sport specific cardiovascular training. The majority of sports rely on speed, agility, and quickness. In order to improve those variables, resistance training is the foundation. If an athlete can improve their strength, they can improve their speed. If an athlete can push off the ground with more force the athlete will become faster or jump higher.

Speed is power, moving a resistance (body weight) over a distance as fast as possible. The easiest way to increase power is to increase strength.

Agility is also just as important. An athlete can be the biggest and strongest one on the playing field, court, ice, but if that can't get to the point to make a play, they aren't going to be effective.

Parents, when your athlete is frustrated with their playing time, the first question to ask is what have you done in the off-season to improve yourself as a player in your sport? Have you shot baskets, shot pucks, hit balls, lifted weights, etc. for countless hours? Your competitors are out there putting in the time to improve themselves. Support your athletes to get involved in a strength and conditioning program beginning at age 13.

In my professional opinion and observation, the summer between the sophomore and junior years is the more influential period to develop as a varsity contributor.

Coaches, counsel your athletes on how to improve during their summer off-season. Give them specific goals to work towards over the summer whether it is to get stronger, faster, or improve their sport skills.

In my over 30 years of training high school, college, and professional athletes, I have come across only two or three athletes who could train at a high enough level of intensity by themselves to achieve significant results. It's important to seek out professional, supervised programs. We are very fortunate in the Rochester area to have an abundance of resources for performance enhancement training. Strength and conditioning professionals should be certified as strength and conditioning specialists from the National Strength and Conditioning Association or one of the other nationally recognized sport performance enhancement organizations.


If you have specific questions on summer strength and conditioning programs, feel free to contact me at: or call; 287-9312.

In closing, athletes, what are you going to do this summer to separate yourself from your competitors? Know that your competitors are out there in the hot sun training to become better athletes.

Wes Emmert is fitness director for the Rochester Athletic Club.

What To Read Next
Get Local