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The college sports athletes preparation guide

guide for athletes Jan 14, 2022

Text: Ann Zaprazny – Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash

Congratulations! Your plan to complete college. You have achieved your childhood dream.  Making the transition from high school to college can be challenging. 

As an athlete, you might have wondered, what are the things I should do to prepare myself before going to college? 

This 4-step-guide will help you get ready for college so you make the transition go well. 


1. Reduce your academic load in your first semester

If a typical student takes five courses, I recommend taking four classes. Why? Your first semester can set the tone for your success in college. I did not do this and regret it. 

I was a scholar-athlete at my high school. My major was Chemical Engineering with a biology minor. In addition, I played basketball and worked 8 hrs a week on campus. 

My first semester GPA was terrible, and my scholarship was in jeopardy. I struggled academically because I was underprepared. High School was easy. 

My study skills were not as strong as they needed to be, and I underestimated the demands of my academics. I finally figured it out. There is a better way to transition to college. 

Lighten your load to allow you to get used to living away from home, the demands of college, and sports. It’s better to have a strong first semester than a poor one.  

2. Invest in mental performance training BEFORE you go to college. 

At the high school level, you were good. You excelled. You were recognized and earned the right to compete at the next level. 

At the next level - everyone is good. Everyone earned their way to the team. Often what separates good athletes from great athletes is their mental game. 

Elite and professional athletes work with mental performance coaches to help them perform at their highest level. 

Mental performance skills are coping skills. We need to introduce athletes to "coping skills" early in their career so that they can learn: 

  • To use their breath to center and calm
  • Meditate to manage their stress 
  • Use visualization to help them see their success
  • How to release poor performances
  • How to move through mistakes
  • How to let go of perfectionism and unrealistic expectations
  • And more

Mental performance skills can help an athlete navigate the stresses of athletics and academics more effectively. 

If you feel stressed and want to be calmer – take a look at this

3. Invest in strength and conditioning training with certified training when in High School

You are an accomplished athlete. You are among the small percentage of athletes who have the opportunity to compete in college. You have a mature adult body. Proper strength and condition training can help minimize your injuries in the future. 

Often the strength and conditioning programs in college are more intense and rigorous.

You can prepare now by consistently working with a certified trainer or strength and conditioning coach. 

The work you do now in the weight room will help you transition later. 

In the Hershey, Pa area (my local market), Mary Driscoll, owner of Mary's Health and Fitness, does a great job helping athletes train for the current season and prepare for the next level. 


4. Invest and educate your high school athlete on proper nutrition.

The food you eat impacts your performance. 

Food is fuel. Your body performs best when your body is adequately fueled. 

Good food equals good fuel to your body's engine. 

Lousy food and a poor diet over time will adversely impact your performance. 

There is an opportunity for athletes to learn how to fuel their bodies properly. Invest now to educate yourself on how to eat correctly. Engage a certified sports nutritionist to discuss your sport, your training routines, and the best way to fuel your body for success. 

In the Hershey, Pa area, Angie Dye, the owner of CarpeDiem Nutrition, is a fabulous resource. She works 1:1 with athletes and can conduct virtual visits. 

Are you already at college?

These are the four steps how to make your life at college easier


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