Advice for Student Athletes — From A to Z (Part 2, B & C)

Our second installment of the ‘Advice for Student Athletes’ series will help prospective student athletes, as well as current ones, continue to compete at the highest level on the playing field while still operating at their best in the classroom. And with that, we’ll pickup where we left off and dig into ‘B’ and ‘C’.

B — (The) Basics. Remember what your mom and dad told you…get plenty of rest and eat your vegetables.

The question regarding sleep is: How much rest is “plenty of rest”? While the target hours of sleep per night is typically set at 8 hours, the real answer is to get as much as you need to feel refreshed and energized when you wake in the morning. That could be 7, 8, or 9 hours, as it just depends on the individual and their preference. A good night’s sleep will help to keep your mind and body sharp. Studies show that sleep improves memory, quickens sprint speed, increases strength capabilities, as well as lessened fatigue and elevated stamina. Without adequate sleep, a student athlete will find that their performance is impaired, their concentration is dulled and they are a lot less attentive and a lot more irritable. And, of course, you want to be in the classroom and in the game as often as possible, so to do that you need to stay healthy…quality sleep leads to a fully functioning immune system.

Yes, you’ll see plenty of students in the dorm playing video games until the morning, and many more out partying until even later…but you have to know what’s best for you as both a student and an athlete, you need to make the right decision. Get your sleep.

Regarding your nutrition as a student athlete, the easiest advice is: Do not skip a meal. You’ll be burning a tremendous amount of calories between workouts, practices, and games, and you’ll need to refuel and re-energize. Sure, it seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised how many student athletes mention to us that they are too busy to eat properly. The truth is, you need to find the time. Build blocks of eating times into your schedule if need be. Lean on your teammates to do the same so that you can all be sure that you are refueling as necessary. For when times are really stretched, be prepared and have a number of healthy snacks handy for ‘on the go.’ Protein bars, healthy nuts, bananas and oranges are easy to pack and quick to eat. And, of course, remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day. The benefits of water for someone could very well command their own post but keys for student athletes are that H2O aids in digestion, keeps you from overheating during exercise, and helps to stave off muscle soreness and cramping.

C — (Be) Creative. More specifically, be creative with the free time that you have available.

As a student athlete, your time will be limited and is precious. Most important: be sure to call home, concentrate on eating right, and nap on occasion (see above).

Some of the best time a student athlete can have to themselves, often overlooked, is that team travel time to and from games and events. Bring flash cards and study guides to read and review, partner up with a teammate in your class to gain a better understanding of the current material, and use your laptop effectively: write and edit your essays, research reports, among other quality tasks. Do not, however, fall into the trap of simply wasting time — meaningless Facebook scrolling, cute cat videos, and other mundane internet time-wasters. These are sites and apps that are perfect for wasting time, and not so good for being productive and proactive. While social media could also have it’s own post (and eventually will), certainly be using social media to communicate with friends and family effectively and responsibly.

In summary, use this free time work to do something that will sharpen your academics, not dull your brain.

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