Summer at Sanford POWER will look closer to normal this year, if not exactly pre-pandemic normal.
A year ago, uncertainties brought on by the presence of COVID-19 dominated the sports landscape.
Safety will continue to be the top priority as the summer unfolds but the opportunities to embrace summer workouts is a certainty. Athletes wanting to make the most of performance training have a much better outlook.
“A year ago at this time we weren’t really sure what we’d be able to offer,” said Scott Hettenbach, director of the Sanford POWER sports performance programs. “Thankfully we were able to pull together some things, but it was very last-minute. This year we’ve been able to get ahead of that. We’ve been able to finalize our summer schedule.”
More predictable summer
It’s a big step forward because it gives kids and their families a chance to make plans that incorporate all the other things that come with summer. In other words, it’s going to be easier for kids to be kids.
“A year ago kids just weren’t sure they were going to be able to do anything,” Hettenbach said. “They were basically told to stay in and do everything virtually. So now they’re just happy that they can get back to playing sports. Whatever level they’re at, they’re excited to be back participating in their activities again.”
Just ask Lucas Slack about that. He’ll be a junior quarterback at Brandon Valley High School and is also a wrestler. He is already digging in on making sure he’s ready to go.
“You realize the social benefits — you get to train with your friends at Sanford,” Slack said. “It’s great to see them outside a school setting. It’s a long summer without seeing them otherwise. And we push each other. It’s a great motivator.”
COVID-sensitive protocols remain but those guidelines are in place to get in the way of the virus, not get in the way of getting better.
“I’ve gotten a lot faster over the last three weeks working with Sanford POWER,” Slack said. “We’ve been working on weighted running and working on my start. I thought I was doing it right when I started here but I found out I wasn’t. Then I got faster right away.”
The Sanford POWER team believes that summer is perhaps the best time to really dig into performance training, whether you’re an interscholastic athlete or an active adult.
“Even though an athlete might have other commitments, school is out — so the available time increases,” said Randy Martin, manager of Sanford POWER in Fargo. “The summer months give a perfect window to commit and focus one’s mind and body to improving his/her performance traits.”
Focus your off-season training
Martin said summer performance training should focus on several areas:
- Quickness, speed and acceleration
- Cardiovascular endurance
Summer is the time to get prepared for the sports season. It can lay the foundation for athletic performance for the entire year.
Summer training’s physical, personal benefits
That can be done individually — one-on-one with a certified strength and conditioning coach — or in group settings. There are benefits to both, beyond the physical components. Productive, off-season training can be good for personal confidence, and great team workouts can improve camaraderie.
“All junior high and high school athletes should participate in a supervised, structured, and progressive strength and conditioning program,” Martin said. “A summer eight-week training program should focus on improving flexibility/mobility, power, speed, quickness, agility and strength.”
That rings true even for athletes who compete in the summer. Injury prevention must remain a priority. To that end, anticipating a surge of activity after a COVID-19 winter is great — but don’t overdo it.
“It’s OK to have a couple weeks of free play and recharge your batteries both mentally and physically,” Hettenbach said. “We have all these activities now coming back in the schedule, but we shouldn’t be throwing too much at kids too quickly. It’s still important to build some breaks in as the school seasons begin to wind down.”
Train for summer weather
On a smaller scale, transitioning from winter to warmer temperatures can mean a change in procedure.
“Athletes should tailor their warm-up and cool-down routine to the conditions they are in,” Hettenbach said. “They may need to shorten their overall routine, or add some additional rest in between movements to allow for the proper warm-up needed without creating additional fatigue. Likewise, they may need additional time to cool down during warmer weather and account for that during the events they participate in.”
Sanford POWER has been developing athletes for more than 20 years. It offers a variety of programs for athletes of all ages and abilities this summer in the traditional hubs of Bismarck, Fargo and Sioux Falls, new locations in Bemidji, Grand Forks, and Irvine, California, plus satellite programs in Aberdeen, Bagley and more.
It also offers safety and, in this case, a summer of opportunity.
“We knew there was going to be a pent-up desire to get back to Sanford POWER’s summer programming,” Hettenbach said. “Fortunately things are trending that way. We’re able to get back to doing the things we normally do.”
- Staying fit at Sanford Wellness Centers during the pandemic
- Sanford POWER running program designs plans for all levels
- Keep kids active and safe during the summer