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Have a great summer!

Now that the spring season is over, it's time for some good, old-fashioned summertime fun. So be sure to enjoy the summer with family and friends at East Brunswick parks, Crystal Springs and, of course, the Jersey Shore. Still thinking about soccer? Here are some summertime tips for you.

1. Get away from soccer. Take a week off from soccer. Even the great players get away from soccer -- or basketball or football -- when their season ends. It's very important that you give yourself a break. Your muscles will appreciate it, and so will your mind. Don't worry: you won't lose your touch in a week. And you'll come back fired up and ready to improve your game.

2. Cross-train. The summertime is a great time to improve your speed, agility and coordination, and there's no better way to do that than with cross-training. So swim, bike, boogie board, play basketball, jog and hike -- just use the summer to stay in shape and to improve your general conditioning while having fun. If you're fortunate enough to spend the summer at a day or sleepaway camp, don't worry about how much soccer time you're putting in. Just stay active and your conditioning will be just fine when it's time to gear up for soccer by early or late-August.

3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Whatever you do athletically this summer, be sure that you're being smart in the hot weather. Pick good times to go work out -- you can get a great workout without playing in the midday sun -- and be sure to drink lots of water and Gatorade before you work out (preferably the night before), during your workout and after. And while you're at it, don't forget the sun block. Even professional teams spend a few minutes before practice and games applying sun block, even on hazy, cloudy days.

4. Play for the love of the game. In-season is the time for serious, regimented practice. Off-season is the time for informal 2 v. 2 games at the park with your best buddies, soccer tennis (put a net or couple of bags between two players and volley the ball -- just one bounce on each side -- across the court), World Cup and all the fun stuff. If all you do is practice, practice, practice, you'll burn yourself out and will do yourself more harm than good for the start of the fall season. Your skills will improve just as much -- probably more -- if you spend the summer playing soccer with your friends, working on new and wild juggle combinations and just playing for the love of the game.

5. Watch great players. Euro 2008 is wrapping up, but there have been some great games on TV. The Summer Olympics in Beijing will give you a chance to see the US men's and women's teams in action, including East Brunswick's own Heather O'Reilly, who played most of her youth career in EBSC. And don't forget about the Red Bulls' games at Giants Stadium and all the great games you can catch on TV. Or just come out to Heavenly Farms on a weeknight or Sunday morning and watch really good, experienced players play. There's some great soccer talent in EB!

6. Do your summer reading. There are many fantastic books about soccer -- histories, biographies, skill development, etc. Your parents will love the fact that you're doing your summer reading, and you'll become an expert in the game you love. There are also some really good instructional videos and DVDs out there, so you might want to pay a visit to the East Brunswick Public Library and go home with an armful of soccer-related materials.

7. Set goals. This is a great time to look at where you are in your soccer career and set some goals: I want to make the 8th grade team at Churchill. I want to start on the varsity team at East Brunswick High School. I think I want to play collegiate soccer. Come up with your goals and write them down somewhere. Put a list of goals on your computer screen. Or on your bathroom mirror. Or on the lamp next to your bed. Just make them visible so you can constantly remind yourself of your goals. Then create a roadmap -- how do I get from where I am right now to where I want to be? You won't always achieve all your goals in life -- few of us ever do -- but you'll feel much better if you give it your very, very best attempt every chance you get.

7. Stop reading and start doing. OK, enough lists and enough visits to the EBSC web site. Go have a great, safe summer!

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