After Little League...
High school athletes face a completely different set of challenges than the typical student. In addition to the standard academic course load, an athlete has to fit in practice, training, games and travel. Although balancing the weight of athletics and academics can be demanding, the achievement can be quite rewarding. In fact, most colleges and prospective employers highly regard student athletes and seek them to be part of their student demographic and/ or employee pool.
Colleges look to recruit athletes as they exude many of the characteristics that would make for a successful student - hardworking nature, ability to multi-task, work ethics, dedication, and self-discipline. Prospective employers look for the same set of principles when hiring employees. All in all, the strong habits learned as an athlete will help to prepare you as a strong candidate for both college life and life in the professional world.
There are many ways to ensure a strong and successful career as a student athlete. Below are some tips and suggestions for managing what can be a highly stressful life for student athletes.
Organization is the biggest key to success in both the classroom and within your sport. All athletes have the strength to stay focused while on the field or court, but it is important that this carries to the classroom. For starters, it is important to write things down. Get a planner and split up each day in two sections: sports and studies. Keep track of everything you need to do and cross things off as they get accomplished. If there are simply too many items on your list for one day, prioritize your tasks from most to least important. If there is something that can be checked off the following day without any consequence - try to get it done first thing the following morning. Just remember, the most important point in staying organized is to write things down.
MANAGE YOUR TIME EFFECTIVELY
Your first job in high school is to do your best academically. Working hard in your classes to produce good grades will create options for yourself after high school, prepare you for continued academic success in college and will ultimately make your life easier as an athlete. To be truly efficient, you must account for every minute in every day. Make your time useful by making a plan for each day and sticking to your plan. As a student athlete it's easy to get pulled in different directions, but as long as you stick to your daily routine and use your time efficiently you will be successful.
BE A LEADER
Being an effective leader begins with what you do, and how you do it. Good leaders consistently give their best effort without being told to, regardless of who is watching. Create high standards and expectations for yourself, and do your best to live up to the goals you set for yourself every day. Your confidence will grow more and more as your reach your goals and your value as both a student and athlete will only continue to rise. When the people around you sec you giving your all, your commitment and efforts will have a positive impact on them as well. This holds true for both academics and in sport.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY BALANCE
Being successful in high school can feel overwhelming at times, and finding a healthy balance is especially important for student athletes. It's very important to find time for friends, family and most significantly, yourself. When it comes to your friends, find time to hang out in a healthy environment with only positive influences. It is very important to learn about healthy friendships and relationships and to surround yourself with people who you enjoy spending time with and with those that make you feel comfortable. It's also nice to carve out quality time with your family as much as possible, as they can be the most supportive and influential people around you. Lastly, take time for yourself. Whether it's quiet time in your room, going to the park, taking a warm bath or simply lounging on the couch, it's important to take the time to simply relax and clear your mind.
MANAGE YOUR STRESS
Stress occurs when you feel like there is more going on in your life than you are able to handle. It can happen when you feel like you have too much to do and not enough time to do it. It can also happen when something unexpected happens in your life that you are not necessarily prepared for. There is no way to avoid stress altogether, but what is most important is to develop techniques for releasing the stress in healthy ways. One way to build your defense against the impacts of stress is to maintain your physical health and develop a healthy lifestyle, essentially learning how to take care of yourself. The basics include making sure you are getting enough sleep and rest, eating regular healthy meals, and getting basic exercise. Although as a student athlete you should already be taking care of the exercise part! It's also important to find a friend, teammate, family member or faculty members that you can trust and who is willing to listen while you vent your frustrations. It can be very helpful to talk to someone and get your feelings out in the open.
STAY AWAY FROM DRUGS, ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO
Simply put, drugs, alcohol and tobacco are prohibited and will cause harm to you and your health. They will make your life as both a student and as an athlete much more difficult, and can even lead to getting suspended or expelled from school and ultimately your sports team. Needless to say, using an illegal substance will have a negative impact on your health and well-being and can easily prevent you from achieving a maintaining a healthy balance in your life. If you or someone you know is having temptations towards drugs, alcohol or tobacco, turn to someone for help and proper guidance. This can be your coach, teacher, family member or any other positive role model in your life.
All in all, the strong habits learned as an athlete will help to prepare you as a strong candidate in every facet of your life. This holds true as long as you learn to effectively balance and manage the demands of athletics and academics.
Use the tips and suggestions shared here to manage your life as a successful student athlete!