Take a break, athletes. Seriously.

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For most dedicated student athletes, off-season play is a must. Anyone who wants to get ahead in the game — or even just keep up with the top dogs in the league — is probably slugging it out in their respective sport throughout the summer months.

But as August approaches and the new school year looms closer on the horizon, it may be time to let up on practices and skirmishes for a week or two.

There is also definitely a stigma around slacking-off on summer workouts. Taking a break for a week or several weeks, might appear to some like a lack of dedication.

For most dedicated student athletes, off-season play is a must. Anyone who wants to get ahead in the game — or even just keep up with the top dogs in the league — is probably slugging it out in their respective sport throughout the summer months.

But as August approaches and the new school year looms closer on the horizon, it may be time to let up on practices and skirmishes for a week or two.

There is also definitely a stigma around slacking-off on summer workouts. Taking a break for a week or several weeks, might appear to some like a lack of dedication.

But, although the around-the-clock mindset of many young athletes is understandable, and their tireless dedication to their sport is admirable, time away from the game may actually be more beneficial than relentless, year-long participation.

There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, the body needs time to heal. Even if athletes are not complaining of specific injuries during practice or play, their bodies are being put through a strenuous program that puts tremendous pressure on their muscles and bones. The constant wear and tear is likely to have consequences if not cared for properly – and, hopefully, those consequences will not pop up in the middle of a regular season.

Tapering now could prevent serious injury later.

Interestingly, resting may actually help athletes better mentally absorb what they have learned over the summer.

According to Richard Temple, Ph.D., a licensed clinical neuropsychologist, resting allows the mind to process information better. Temple recommends that if athletes have hit a wall and do not seem to be improving, they may need to take their mind off the game completely to let it reconfigure the information properly. All those techniques and strategies will still be there when the athlete returns to the game, but hopefully they will be more organized and accessible.

Dedicated athletes have been training since school let out, but it might be the ones who take a summer break who succeed in the fall.

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