Having been a Student-Athlete coupled with my experience of counseling for several years, I have been able to identify a few areas that all budding college athletes can work on. The 3 most important skills one can hone on in preparation of being a successful Student-Athlete in college are: 1) Time Management One of the biggest weapons a student-athlete can have is time management. While one can be an exceptional athlete and an A+ student, what separates the best is that they can capitalize on all their strengths. Being a student- athlete is all about leading a well-balanced life which means you need to be aware of how you allocate your time. You do not have the luxury to skip practice if there are too many assignments and vice-versa. A sure-shot way of making sure that you meet all deadlines is to maintain a calendar. Make google calendar your best friend- put in all your tournaments, practices, assignments etc. in your calendar and let technology assist you in making sure you are on top of your schedule. If you are old-school like I used to be, print out a monthly calendar, pencil in all the important stuff and put it up in a place that you will look at every day.
2) Preparation Plan ahead! Once you fill in your calendar, you will realize that there is a lot to be done as a Student-Athlete and there is only so much time. Hence, to lead that well-managed balanced life, you have to train yourself to prepare in advance. Small things go a long way. If you have a 7 am practice, make sure to lay out your clothes, snacks, drinks etc. before you go to bed. This way you score an extra 15 minutes of sleep and can wake up ready to go! On the academic side, one trick that always worked for me was that I aimed to finish assignments one day prior to the day they were due. I always planned ahead, put an advanced due date for assignments in my calendar and gave myself that one day buffer. This way I was always ahead of the game.
3) Leisure Time Being a Student-Athlete is a lot of hard-work. I strongly believe that one must work hard and play hard to sustain four years of competitive collegiate sports. I encourage each one of you to schedule in some down-time. You can either schedule in something fun more regularly or take one whole day off to do something you enjoy. I am sure this sounds “obvious” but believe me one tends to forget the meaning of self-care when in the Student-Athlete role. As an athlete you are going to be pulled in several different directions and it is easy to get bogged down with responsibilities but you must not forget to reward all your efforts. I used to take an hour every day to do something I enjoyed- one day it could be cooking, another day I would go for a nice long walk with my favourite music or meet up friends for dinner! I made sure that I did not allow myself to get tired of my sport and prematurely burn out by making my life all about golf and studies. After all, in college, we all are young and deserve some degree of fun!