Dear Athletic Support: My son’s summer football workouts are back in full swing. With the days getting hotter (not to mention having so many weeks off due to COVID) he’s really feeling the impact of the weight room. He can barely walk! As a single mother, I’m not up to date on strength and conditioning programs. I guess what I’m saying is, I’m worried! When he gets home from workouts in the morning, he usually spends the rest of the day lying around the house. Just wanted to check with you and make sure this was normal, or if I should touch base with the coach. – Working It Out

Dear Working: There’s nothing quite like the soreness that comes from summer workouts. A combination of squats, deadlift, and power clean can produce a very distinctive hobble. The good news is it goes away, eventually.

If your son keeps attending his workouts, the pain and soreness will gradually subside. But he has to keep going.

Summer workouts are a proving ground. They’re what separates an athlete from a student not involved in extracurricular activities. For most teenagers, summer means vacation, two months of pure freedom!

But for athletes, summer means work. Hard work. Early mornings, tournaments on the weekends, and of course, the dreaded workouts.

There is, however, a method to the madness. What your son is doing is preparing his body for the coming season. He’s training his muscle to endure the strain of a four-quarter football game.

This is no easy task. Most coaches realize their players won’t actually achieve “game shape” until somewhere around the middle of the season. There’s nothing like real competition to get a young athlete’s heart pumping.

I always wanted my practices to be so hard that the games were easy. This philosophy is especially important for the summer of 2020.

You mentioned your son having “so many weeks off due to COVID.” He’s not alone. When the schools shutdown in the spring, so did many student athletes’ training regimens. I’m sure some very devoted athletes continued trying to work out from home (see my previous column, “Staying in shape during a pandemic”), but it’s almost impossible to match the intensity a good coach can provide.

So take peace in the knowledge that your son’s coach is getting him ready. He’s working him out hard now so the games will seem easy. If your son sticks it out over the duration of the summer, he’ll also be less likely to suffer nagging injuries.

And the best part?

Your son is learning the value of hard work. While other boys his age are sleeping in, he’s waking up early and putting in sweat equity toward his future. With the country currently upended and each week seemingly more uncertain than the last – this is a lesson that will serve him well for years to come.

Eli Cranor is a former professional quarterback and coach turned award-winning author. Send questions for “Athletic Support” to eli.cranor@gmail.com or visit elicranor.com.

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