Being a student-athlete comes with an incredibly unique set of challenges. While you are studying to get good grades like the rest of your classmates, you are also working towards winning your next game or tournament. Aside from having to get all your schoolwork done, you must also make time for training sessions and possibly sacrifice your time with friends and family. This poses not only physical challenges but mental and emotional ones as well, as you cannot allow one bad grade to affect the rest of your preparations for the biggest event of the season.
With all that is at stake, balancing both studies and sports require great discipline and toughness. However, the rewards that come with it — the thrill, satisfaction, and sheer joy of being able to do what you love — is without compare. Whether you represent Stanford, New Haven, or Provo, being where you are now is an achievement in itself.
Given the highs and lows of your life as a student-athlete, here are some tips to making the most of your experiences doing the sport you love:
1. Stay injury-free.
It’s no secret that injuries are a student-athlete’s worst nightmare. From something as simple as a sprain to the extremes of ACL tears that may require surgery, injuries can derail – and even end – your career as an athlete. This, in turn, may even have far-reaching consequences like large amounts of rehabilitation spending and a possible loss of scholarship.
Make sure you take good care of your body by always going through proper warm-ups and cool-downs. Don’t hesitate to consult with a doctor as well if you start feeling pain in a certain part of your body. In the demanding world of sports, it is always better to be safe rather than sorry.
2. Be open to learning.
Whether in the classroom or on the training ground, you should always be looking for ways to improve yourself. Do not hesitate to ask for help or to take in any lessons your mentors may have to offer.
At the same time, you should be open to constructive criticism and see where you may have done wrong. This will help you improve as an athlete and a student, and will also set you up well for life after school and sports. Those who are the best at what they do never cease to learn more and this is what keeps them at the top of their game.
3. Set long-term goals.
Setting goals gives you something to work for. Once you know what it is you want to achieve, you will be able to focus your mind and effort towards that one thing. This will define how you will orient your habits and lifestyle over the next few years.
Whether it is graduating with honors or winning a championship, identifying your goals allows you to prepare properly and smartly. You should also think about what you would want to achieve in the long run, so you can start working towards this goal as early as possible. This will come in handy later in life as well, whether or not you decide to go pro. After all, no one can achieve anything without proper work or preparation.
4. Don’t forget to have fun.
At the end of the day, being a student-athlete is all about the passion and love for your sport. It is not worth putting so much time and effort into something you no longer enjoy. Therefore, you should never forget to be grateful for and love what you do.