High school is almost like a full time job really. You arrive by 8 am Monday – Friday and spend your day learning and discussing details on new topics and discovering solutions to problems you may or may not have known existed. The demands of the classroom can be overwhelming at times with daily in class work to complete, the never ending homework load, project deadlines and of course, studying for multiple finals that are right around the corner. In a way, it feels like a juggling act.
On top of your busy daily routine you are also an active athlete, the kind that puts in 2 hours of practice each day, stays an extra half hour or so after practice, working on skill development and improving your game. You are defined as a disciplined, hard working athlete.
After your first few years of high school experiencing that “full time job feeling”, and battling to put the time and work into being an asset to your sports team, it isn’t uncommon to experience a bit of senioritis when you hit your senior year. With the pressure of juggling pretty much “two full-time jobs” it can start to weigh on you, leaving you feeling frustrated. For some, the frustration they feel leads to a decline in motivation and performance.
So…How does one learn to become a successful student athlete? Here a few tips on how you can work through these tough times when the going gets tough!
Work on time management. Treat your life as a full time job, make sure you honor each commitment. While you may enjoy athletic life more, putting the time in and respecting your classes is just as important.
Communication is key. Keep lines of communication open between your coaches, teammates, instructors and fellow students. If you have to miss a class or a practice, notify the right people and let them know your plan for making it up to them. People really appreciate this, it shows respect for their time and shows you care.
Challenge yourself. You might be well known as a talented athlete, but it doesn’t mean you have to put yourself in that box and stay there. Be open, engage with different groups of people outside of our circle of teammates. Venture out and try an activity or two that’s out of your comfort zone.
Stay true to yourself. Be sure to own who you are and keep the “brand” of you. To know who you are and staying true to that, says a lot about your character.
Learn from your failures. Whether it’s a loss on the court or a poor grade in the classroom, don’t let failures affect your goals and winning spirit. Failures and mistakes are an opportunity to learn and grow. Embrace them.
Don’t ever stop learning. Be an active reader. Learn all that you can, whether it’s within your sport or in your classwork. One of the best ways to keep growing, is to remain open to new knowledge and insights. Trust me, this habit will serve you well for the rest of your life.
Keep the big picture in mind. Your day-to-day life may be hectic, but really try to plan down the road as well. Keep communication open with the key people in your life and never burn your bridges. Continue to network, communicate and stay connected with people around you. These skills will help you in all areas of your life.
Good questions are important at student-athlete recruit meetings. Once you’ve determined what you’re looking for in a school, ask relevant questions. Some examples are: What is the retention rate of the school? What are some common majors among the current team members? What is the team’s overall grade point average? Really determine what is important to you, and leave each campus with answers.
Plan A and a plan B. You should always shoot for the stars and go after your dreams. In some cases though, life takes us on a different journey or you might experience a few setbacks and bumps in the road. It’s a great idea to have a well thought out plan and also good to have a backup plan if your first one doesn’t work. You just never know what life has in store. So keep an open mind!
Being a successful student athlete isn’t easy. It requires effort, hard work and commitment, demands dedication, discipline and desire. But.. If you want it bad enough, you can have it! Get your game face on, put in the work and go out an earn it!
So… How bad do you want it?!