Being a college athlete is a very rewarding experience, but it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Balancing academics and athletics as a college student can be challenging.
Depending on the level at which you are participating, you may have to manage the demands of practices, games, traveling, workouts, and so on while also meeting the academic requirements to remain a collegiate athlete.
As a former cheerleader for a Division III school, you may think we did not have a ton of commitments to manage; however, that was not the case.
We cheered at home basketball games for men and women and football home games, and we had to practice multiple times a week to prepare our routines for the competition season.
On top of all of that, we were all focused on our academics.
Here are some of my tips to ensure you are preparing for the high demands of being a successful student-athlete.
Take care of your mind and body.
As an athlete, our main focus tends to be staying fit, eating healthy, and drinking plenty of fluids.
However, it is just as important to take care of your mental health.
Getting enough sleep is crucial. It will help you to have the right mindset when it comes time to practice or perform well.
I cannot tell you the number of times I felt physically drained from not getting enough sleep that I dreaded the thought of going to practice, even though I loved the sport.
Making sure your mind and body are in tip-top shape is vital.
Communicate with your professors and coaches. Conflicts are going to arise.
At the start of each semester, be sure to introduce yourself to your professors and let them know you are a student-athlete.
Your coaches will understand that academics come first.
Still, it is a good idea to build a strong rapport with your professors early on in the semester in case something related to athletics arises and causes a conflict.
Be a Natural Goal Setter.
Plan and prioritize your time if you want to succeed in academics and your sport.
Use a planner or a digital calendar to keep track of all your commitments and assignments.
Be sure to prioritize your responsibilities and make time for yourself to socialize and get work done.
A digital calendar helps with reminders for due dates, practices, general items, etc.
Use your resources.
As a student-athlete, there are loads of resources you can utilize.
At my school, for example, we had a tutoring center that could help us write papers, study for exams, etc.
During the busy competition season, I used these resources to help me feel less alone while navigating a difficult curriculum on a tight schedule.
Confide your feelings with your teammates and coaches. This will ensure that they are aware of your situation.
Many colleges also offer counseling services to help if you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed out.
This may seem cliche and simple, but for a student-athlete, it is important to make time for yourself to have fun.
I was stressed, contemplated quitting many times, and felt overwhelmed, but looking back, I have no regrets.
Despite all the struggles, I was able to have fun with my teammates, friends, and family and realize it was all worth it.