It is the time of year when players start to make college lists, think about what major they want to pursue, and decide on what school fits who they are athletically. College coaches are watching, setting their schedules, and highlighting players who they want to be part of their programs.
Coaches’ decisions are not based solely on physical play. The right fit is determined by not only the ability of a player, but also the player’s motivation and attitude on and off the field.
As an athlete, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to know exactly what a coach wants to see, which can ultimately provide a lot of pressure. You need to know how to stand out.
If you want to stand out as an athlete, then follow the three tips below and you will excel.
1. Acknowledge. Accept. Recover.
Every athlete makes mistakes. Whether it’s a dropped pass, a missed shot, or being burned on defense, mistakes are part of the game. It can be hard to forget about it and move on to the next play if you are worried about the fact that a college coach just saw you make a big mistake.
Instead of viewing mistakes as negative, see mistakes as an opportunity to show that you have the mental toughness to recover and move onto the next play.
It’s not the mistake you make, but how you recover from it that matters the most.
Coaches want to see how you react to situations that you face on the field. So, instead of dwelling on that missed pass, keep your head up, take a deep breath, and focus on the next play.
Pick a cue to help you shake it off. Try something like pulling on your jersey, adjusting your shoe laces, clapping your hands, or brushing your shoulder off.
2. View Pressure as a Privilege
When you play at a big recruiting tournament and see all the coaches on the sideline, you may feel your heart rate spike, your hands get sweaty, and your thoughts start to go a mile a minute. What is that feeling?
What if you could view pressure as a way to help you? When you feel those physical signs of pressure, view them as a signal that your body is preparing you for battle. It is preparing you to do exactly what you need to do to perform at your best.
Redefine pressure in the moment. Pressure helps you perform at your top level. Feeling pressure shows that you care about your performance. If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t play at your best.
Pressure fuels your performance.
3. Check in Daily
In the midst of tournament season or a recruiting season, everything tends to move at a very fast pace. You’re going from game to game, sometimes four to five in a day, then to practice every week. You have school work to keep track of, and on top of that, you’re attempting to have a social life. Before and after every performance, game or practice, check in with yourself.
How are you feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally? If things start to get overwhelming, take a step back and remember why you are playing in the first place, and reasons why you enjoy playing a sport.
Give yourself goals to achieve and evaluate them weekly. Write down what you are doing well, what can be done better, and how you will go about achieving that.
Take it one step at a time, one day at a time, and enjoy the process.
When it’s all said and done, you will end up at the college you were meant for. In the meantime, enjoy the journey, remind yourself to take a breath when it becomes overwhelming, treat pressure as a privilege, and feel how it fuels your performance.