Tips for the Student Athlete
Getting ready for the school year to start is the most exciting time ever! Two things to do as the school year begins are get organized and develop a routine. Young student athletes have so much going on! Their bodies are still growing, academics are picking up, their social lives are practically a job, extra curricular activities somehow get started and most importantly, sports are starting to become the real deal. Practices and competitions are going to become a regular part of their life and are much harder than the t-ball games and peewee soccer from their early youth.
If your student athlete is not organized during this time, their life may end up in total chaos and stress will take over. Balancing everything is no easy task.
Start out by getting a planner. Put everything in the planner: dances, competitions, projects, tests, birthdays, assignments and everything else in their life. This way when they look at the schedule, they can look at it in weeks or sometimes even months at a time. If they only look at the schedule day by day, things may sneak up on them. For example, they may not remember until the night before that they have a huge game and a project due on the same day. If the student is up all night finishing that project, they will not perform their best on game day. On top of that, they will put their body under serious extra work and mental stress that takes time to recover from.
If the student plans their time, they will notice a week before when lots of important things come up on the same day or week. For example, if they have a competition on Wednesday and a test on Thursday, they must manage their time and be organized. If they wait until after the race or game to study for the test, they won’t get to bed on time and their body won’t recover from the game. Even worse, they may be stressing about the test on the way to the competition rather than mentally preparing to compete. By studying a few days before, their mind will be at ease during the competition, and they will get to bed on time afterwards.
REMEMBER: Student athletes need up to nine hours of sleep to help their muscles repair.
Making a routine is also crucial for successful performance as a student and athlete. Consider picking out clothes for school, packing the practice bag, making lunch the night before. This way the athlete can really relax during breakfast — the most important meal of the day. This will make mornings more enjoyable. When the morning is stressful, it creates anxiety that may last the rest of the day. This anxiety can interfere with everything from their performance in the classroom to their performance at practice. Start the day on the right foot by getting in the routine of getting ready the night before.
In addition to the routine of getting ready the night before, be sure to get them in the routine of staying on top of nutrition. This means making sure they have enough food packed. Making sure they have snacks is crucial for their performance and general health. Along with enough food and snacks, a water bottle should be part of their pack.
REMEMBER: Student athletes should be eating at least every three hours.
There are tricks to make this easy. Put up to 5 energy bars and 5 packs of powdered sports drink in their bag on Sunday night. Then you won’t have to worry about refilling some snacks until the middle of the week. In general just be sure that your calories are covered to get you through the day and through practice. Always be prepared and make it a part of their routine to pack those extra goodies that will help them perform and recover. (Try PB&J’s!)
REMEMBER: Student athletes should NEVER go into practice hungry.
Make their routine a good one. The more organized they are and committed to perfecting a routine can help them perform their best in everything they do.