Are you thinking of trying out for a school sport when school begins in September? Last fall, I played football on our middle school team. I held the position of right tackle. This position requires the strongest boys because you need to protect the quarterback while he’s throwing the ball to the receiver or giving it to the running back. In order to hold this position, I needed to stay in great physical shape.

If you are thinking of trying out for a sport in the fall, the time to start preparing is now. Here are some ways to get in great physical shape:

Eat a balanced diet. Stay away from eating too many sweets. Follow this suggestion from MyPlate.gov: Grains 25 percent, protein 25 percent, fruits 20 percent, vegetables 30 percent. Water: at least 8 glasses per day.

Improve your speed. Run about 2 miles, twice a week. Try to run two days a week and run 10 sprints varying from 10 yards to 50 yards. You should practice power sprints to develop an explosive start. When you are training, make sure to stay flexible.

Increase your strength. With the help of a trainer, lift weights. When lifting, don’t just focus on your arms, work on your legs, too. What I mean by that is you can squat with the weights and do barbell dead lifts, box jumps and dumbbell step-ups. For arms, you can bench and do pullups or chin-ups. It’s not about how much you can lift or squat; it’s all about the form.

Improve your agility both physically and mentally. Agility is the ability to move and change direction easily. Ladder drills are an excellent exercise. Start slowly and increase the speed gradually. Always be in control to prevent injury and keep good form. Hurdle drills — high-stepping short distances — are a great way to increase your agility. You can also throw a tennis ball against the wall and alternate catching it with your right hand and left hand. Keeping a balloon in the air is great for coordination. This also helps exercise your mental agility.

Get started and don’t get discouraged. It doesn’t matter what shape or level you are in. As long as you have self-discipline and patience and are not afraid of mistakes, you will go far. You should also have the will to win and remember most of all, it’s about getting out there and having fun.

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You can follow these suggestions on your own, or even join a gym to get started. I belong to World Gym in Wantagh. It really keeps me motivated and in great shape all year long.