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College Athlete Survival Guide: 14 Steps to Thrive Part I

Being a college athlete is something to be proud of. The most successful people in sports and life are those who embrace challenges, persist through setbacks, remain positive and solution oriented, learn from criticism, and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.

This article (and free EBOOK when you download it) will help prepare you for life as a student athlete at the collegiate level. If you are already a student athlete, I am sure this will resonate with you and likely remind you of what you need to be doing to thrive and make the most of the time you have left.

Because you are reading this, I know you are ready to learn from my experience. You have worked hard to get to where you are and I sincerely believe that with focus, discipline, and hard work your dreams will become a reality.

Make sure to not only read this advice but apply it.

Insight without action is worthless!


1. Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable.

Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself. You will not leave a college program as the same person who entered it. This portion of your life will hold many opportunities for growth and endless learning experiences.

Get messy and make mistakes! Accept that you will have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. Train yourself to trust the process of growing through something. Do not be put off by anxiety or discomfort, live in the moment and do it anyway. Cultivate a growth or a mastery mindset, it will create a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishments.


2. Trust the Process.

Great things do not happen overnight. Your collegiate career and early twenties will be a rollercoaster! Academics, practice, training, coaches, teammates, traveling, family and friends will all add significant complexity and flavor to your life. It is important to trust the process and have faith that your plan, hard work and dedication will pay off.

It is common for coaches to tweak your mechanics, change your position or teach something a different way than you learned it. It is important to get onboard and trust your coach, their ability and THEIR process. Most collegiate players will experience a change in coaching staff. You must adapt and have faith in “the new way of doing things.” Resistance is the enemy of change and success.


3. Classroom Etiquette & First Impressions.

Being a college athlete is awesome; being a scholar athlete is even better. If you are playing a sport in college, you have truly achieved something amazing - only 5% of high school athletes play in college. Less than 1% of those athletes make it pro. Statistically, you will not go pro. This means getting a quality education is important. If you want to play throughout college you need to maintain acceptable grades. No matter how you slice it, academics will be demanding in and out of season. Treat class like your training. No excuses, go to class.

Sit in the first 3 rows, EVERY DAY, no matter what. Just do it.


4. You Only Get One Body.

You only get one body, take care of it! Hydration, nutrition, and recovery should be on the top of your priority list. Your body is under a lot of pressure, in season and off season. You will most likely have access to the athletic training staff, take full advantage of them. All it takes is a conscious choice to do what is best for your body every day. Do not take the training room for granted; do not ignore aches, pains and pulled muscles. Get treatment, do rehab exercises and learn to foam roll like a professional.


5. Do the Workout (and then some).

When I say workout during offseason…I mean DO THE WORKOUT! Do not cut corners, do not cheat yourself. Dig in, feel the burn and then DO MORE. This will strengthen your body and your mind. If you do this, you will be programming yourself to always do more and ultimately be more. So often athletes think they can coast during offseason. Offseason is the chance to hold yourself more accountable and to do more than what is expected, in order to take yourself to the next level.

As a freshman going into college, there is no way to be prepared for two practices a day. Even as a senior you won’t be prepared. You will lessen the blow/soreness and increase your chances of staying healthy for your season and collegiate career by doing the workout and focusing on strengthening core muscle groups that will keep you balanced and healthy for your sport.

Offseason is the chance to hold yourself more accountable and to do more than what is expected.


6. Eat to Live, Not Live to Eat.

As an athlete in season you will be spending your time traveling, napping everywhere you can, studying when able or forced, practicing and EATING. You will have a lot of chances to eat especially during season and it will all be paid for. You will eat out a lot and it will be a wonderful break from cafeteria food. There are many reasons athletes gain weight when they go to college. Don’t be worried about the weight, be worried about making the right decisions for your goals.

It is important to adopt the mantra, eat to live not live to eat. Everybody loves food, I get it. Athletes eat and train they don’t diet and exercise. Every BODY is different and different sports/athletes demand different diets. It is important to realize that what you put in your body affects what you get out.


7. Something Bigger Than Yourself.

As part of a team, it is important to recognize that you will need to make some changes and decisions that put the team needs before your own. Yes, you matter! You are an individual and you should march to the beat of your own drum…BUT… you also made a commitment to a team, which means sometimes you have to bite your tongue, conform and compromise. Because you represent the University, you need to be conscious of what image you are projecting; in class, practice, travel, social media and at various events. Sometimes that might mean turning down your own personality (there is a time and a place for everything) to fit in. Keep in mind that if you are to play in an orchestra you must play the same song and play at the right volume.

Make sure to read the second installment with the other half of steps to thrive OR just download the free ebook NOW. If you’re a coach, recommend to all your players. If you’re a player, recommend to all your teammates and ensure to keep competing!