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Published on April 19, 2018

teens working out at a gym

Summer Performance Programs More Than Just Workouts

Summer soon will whirl into our lives, filling our days with activities, enjoyable times with the family and a galaxy of fun-in-the-sun hoopla.

For middle- and high-school age athletes, summer might mean enrolling in summer strength and conditioning programs, including those offered through Avera Sports in Aberdeen, Mitchell, Pierre and Sioux Falls.

These programs bring students from 12 to 18 years old, out to gain speed, agility and strength — all things they can bring to bear passionately in sports when their season rolls around again.

“In Mitchell, we have two programs, Acceleration, which is really focused on increasing speed, strength and overall fitness. It’s a great way for any young person who wants to get better to do so,” said Gerald Axsom, Avera clinic manager who oversees programs in the Mitchell area via Avera Queen of Peace Hospital. “We also have sports enhancement programs, which are more focused on smaller groups and include specific exercises and drills to hone a young athlete in the off-season and get ready for next year.”

Axsom said the focus is on many of the basics.

“These programs are a great way for student athletes to develop a sound foundation in movement. As kids get older, they are more ready to dig into weight training and other more-intense training regimens,” he said. “We also work with their parents, and involve a wide array of experts so they can achieve their goals, including nutrition and diet advice.”

Kayla Burns, Avera St. Mary’s Hospital Director of Therapy Services, leads efforts of the same type in Pierre. This team sees a lot of middle-school age kids who are building on the basics and focusing on form as they delve into the working world of performance enhancement.

“We’ve learned that many kids need to learn weight-training and other training drills from the ground up. We use a basic approach to help them realize the ‘why’ behind certain methods and exercises,” Burns said. “It’s a good way for them to carry fundamentals on for the rest of their lives, and above all, it really can help them avoid injuries, especially those that come from an improper approach to weights, sprints and other drills.”

Theresa Backous, ATC, MS-Ed, serves as manager for the Avera Sports Medicine and Acceleration Program in Aberdeen. Avera St. Luke’s sees a lot of young people who return summer after summer, and Backous said the range of ages includes everyone from middle-school, high-school and college athletes.

“Rather than a ‘camp’ it’s a conditioning program over a couple of months and it really can help develop functional movement, speed and strength and power and agility,” she said. “We break down a lot of the basic movements and help athletes perfect them. It can be intense, or it can be more instructional. It depends on the athlete and his or her goals.”

Summer performance programs usually begin in late May or early June.

“I think the success we’ve had over many years is because we know our kids, and we know our professions,” said Backous. “When an athlete works one-on-one with a member of our team, it makes a big difference.”

For each program, communication with local coaching staff can help sports-specific athletes achieve individualized goals. While not required, summer performance programs can help any athlete achieve goals, avoid injuries and optimize performance in the sports they love.

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