School. Clubs. Jobs. Friends. Family. Oh, and on top of all of that, YOU PLAY A SPORT?!
I have seen many, many college students achieve this, and I have done it myself! This is probably not a surprise to you, but it is NOT easy! But I promise you, it is absolutely rewarding.
I never played a sport in high school, I just ran and worked out on my own time. I decided to try something new in college by joining the cross country team. Sure, it's not easy, especially when midterms come around and you're trying to balance out all of your other responsibilities, but I promise you it is an experience worth going through!
Here are my tips on how to not only survive, but ENJOY being a student-athlete:
SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP
I know...I know...you hear this one so often...but it is absolutely true!
I also know that this is always a tough one to ask of people. So instead of telling you how many hours of sleep you should get, I will give you one small tip that will help you:
Yup, you heard me correctly. If you can't get enough hours of sleep, there are always, always, ALWAYS power naps! Plan aside 15-30 minutes for you to rest. Close your eyes, breathe, and relax...and when you wake up, you should feel a little more calmer, and more refreshed.
Again...one that you probably have heard over and over again...
I know it is EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to be healthy 24/7. I admit, I have a huge "sweet tooth," meaning I need to have something like cookies, ice cream, etc. every now and then. I'm here to tell you that it's not, I repeat, NOT, the end of the world if you have these treats every now and then. It is perfectly okay to let go here and there and reward yourself with something special! But, at the same time, you don't want to have these treats 24/7.
So instead of recommending a specific diet, I can give you some recommendations:
- Having a hard time cutting down on sodas, cookies, ice cream, etc.? Try only allowing yourself to a treat one time a day, then try once a week, then maybe once a month, this way you can slowly stop rather than cutting it out completely.
- Don't want to get rid of your snacks in the house? Make a drawer, cabinet, or any section of your kitchen designating where you keep your snacks.
- Or, you can choose to throw out all those snacks and just have healthy food in your kitchen. This does help get rid of the temptation!
- Try to incorporate at least two oranges, two reds, and three greens into your everyday meals.
- I also suggest the Fitbit app, where you can keep track of your steps and record your exercises and food. Having some type of journal to record your progress may alone motivate you to be healthier!
No one likes getting injured. It stinks! You can't play with your team, you may need to get around on crutches or wear a huge cast that makes even the simplest tasks difficult.
While it stinks, it can happen to anyone. My advice here is even if you feel minor pain in your muscles or you twisted your ankle while running (which I have done numerous times!), whatever the case may be, SPEAK UP RIGHT AWAY! If you say something sooner rather than later, you may be able to prevent something far more serious from happening to you. Feel nervous to speak up about it? Don't be! Your athletic trainer, nurse, doctor, whoever it is wants to help you perform at the best level you can possibly be at!
While it's fun to be an athlete, there is a lot of responsibility. Yes, I probably sound like a parent at this moment, but here is why I say this:
I want you to be able to play that game. In fact, you SHOULD be out there with your team! But why can't some athletes do that? What holds them back? Besides injuries, it could also be grades.
My school stresses that academics come first, sports come second. The way I see it, that helps me to put my priorities in perspective. Not only are you in school to gain experiences, but also to get an education so you can get your degree and eventually earn that dream job of yours!
You don't need to be a genius like Albert Einstein to get the best grades. Just like how hard you work out on the field should be the same when you're in class. Think of your teacher as another coach, think of homework as practices for a game, think of those projects and tests as the game, and you want to give it your all!
I see friends (and myself included!) post pictures and statuses about winning a game or bonding with their team, and I cannot tell you how inspired I feel to see these show up on my news feed! It's great to see how successful a team is being, and I always see positive comments congratulating and supporting them.
Social Media can be positive, but there are some down sides...
This is my one tip to student-athletes on social media: either make the account private, or DO NOT post any inappropriate pictures or statuses about drugs, alcohol, etc. Remember, you represent your school, and most importantly, YOURSELF. If you want to be taken seriously, if you want respect, then be mindful of what you post.
Personally, this is the MOST IMPORTANT one I abide by.
There's the Golden Rule, "treat others the way you want to be treated." It may be cliche, but it's true! If you are rude, mean, and disrespectful to someone, then there's a very high chance they will be the same way back to you!
So think about this:
Would you like others to lift you up when you're feeling down? Would you like to feel important to someone else? Heck, would you even like to be that source of positivity for the team when they need a little boost? Teams that have amazing sportsmanship go a lot farther than those who don't, I promise you that!
Just put the training aside for a minute and try to picture a team who is smiling, laughing, cheering each other on...what kind of an impression do you get? They are not just a group of people who get together and play a sport; THEY ARE A TEAM!! And that alone can make them look like a strong one too!
This is probably another cliche one as well, but having a little bit of faith and putting in a little trust goes a long way!
My coach has been training cross country runners and lacrosse players, both high school and college, for about 24 years now, and he is super knowledgeable in how to train properly, how to prevent injuries, and how to push us past our limits. I think I can speak for my team when I say we are very fortunate to have him, and we have all grown so much stronger both physically and mentally.
My advice is trust the training your coach is giving you. Sure, you may question it, but remember they most likely have been through it as well and are making you do it to get to the level that they want you to be at.
Because they believe in you. So you should believe in yourself.
Your coach should not be your ONLY coach.
How badly do you want to break that school record? How badly do you want to score a goal in soccer, basketball, lacrosse, or whatever sport you play? Do you want it more than anything else? And then afterwards, are you willing to push yourself even more?
If you want it so badly, it's up to YOU!!
Sure, your coach can teach you everything he/she knows, but then what? Will you put in the extra effort to achieve that goal? The coach can only do so much to help the team. After that, it's up to you.
Like I said, it is both challenging and rewarding to be a student-athlete. If you put in a lot of hard work, determination, and perseverance, you will get so much out of the whole experience.
And that's a promise.