Many summer workouts must be informal, because N.C.A.A. rules generally bar contact between coaches and players during long off-season dead periods. (There are also limits on supervised training).
The workouts are supposed to be voluntary. Alonzo said her coaches sent the team sheets with recommended mileages and workouts at the beginning of the summer; Dieterich emphasized that Clemson players made the decision to return by the last week in June and train during the second summer session in player-led practices.
Strength coaches may see athletes for more of the year, though (and may also talk to those athletes’ coaches). And in some sports, a team can take an international trip over the summer, including practices and exhibition games, every four years.
Men’s basketball teams are the most notorious exploiters of the international-trips rule: for instance, Kentucky is heading to the Bahamas in early August. Yet teams in other sports see the benefit as well. Creighton’s volleyball squad traveled to — and played volleyball in — Czechia, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary and Italy in June. Upon their return, coaches advised players to step away from spiking for a few weeks, said Kloth, which the players by and large did before returning to informal practices on July 9.
“We’re all really competitive and we don’t want to sit down and give up volleyball,” she said.
The summer sports toil even has trickled down to incoming freshmen, some of whom now enroll over the summer to get a jump-start with their new teams even though their nonathlete classmates might not even arrive on campus for a few more months.
Kathleen Alcorn said that her daughter, Mikayla, graduated from high school in New York earlier this summer on a Friday, traveled to Pittsburgh the next day and began training with Pitt’s women’s soccer team on the following Monday.
“It’s not mandatory, but the university recommends it for all freshmen athletes, and certainly in the fall sports,” she said.
“She’s talking about next summer now,” Alcorn added of her daughter, “about how she can take another summer class, maybe an internship in Pittsburgh, or some other solution. But she wants to be on campus training.”