Always remember the reason why you’re playing—for the love of the game. For example, I loved a good fist pump after a stuff block. Remember those moments of joy and build off the experiences that remind you of why you love the sport.
Consider cross training and play multiple sports throughout high school. Although I decided to specialize and pursue volleyball, there are benefits to playing multiple sports at different times of the year. Starting a new sport can be refreshing and help keep you re-energized throughout the year.
Train hard in the off-season with proper recovery to prepare your body for in-season competition. Decrease the frequency of lifting weights while in-season and focus more time on the sport. When lifting during the competition season, decrease repetitions and increase weight.
Maintain a positive, respectful relationship with your coaches. Having an open line of communication is healthy and will benefit the both of you. Their job is to win and your job is to play well. Don’t be afraid ask your coach what you can work on to be better.
Learn to take criticism. Use it as motivation to get better. It isn’t an attack on you as a person, so take it constructively. Athletics can develop other life skills needed to be a successful adult in other parts of life. In the long run, it is going to make you a stronger person
Making realistic short and long-term goals is important. Something has simple as getting 8 hours a sleep every night may play a big role in your success. Having something to work toward will keep you on the straight and arrow and keep you motivated throughout the long season. It also promotes self-improvement and is an objective way to monitor personal and team growth. Thrive on the feeling of getting better!
Don’t push through injuries. More is not better. Be sure to properly warm up and cool down. Post practice stretching and icing can help decrease muscle soreness and help you recover faster. Be aware of your body mechanics and consider implementing exercises to activate muscles along the kinetic chain. Always land on two feet! Young, females are more likely to tear their ACLs due to biomechanical factors that can be addressed!
Confide in your teammates and build a support system. Don’t look at your teammates like they are the enemy. Sure, you are both vying for playing time, but use that as motivation to push each other and make each other better. Lead by example! They are experiencing what you are experiencing. Providing positive gestures such as a high fives and other compliments can go a long way, especially if you or they are having a rough day at practice. Also, please do not create cliques. That’s never cool.
Be patient with your body. Recognize your own limits and how much you are willing to sacrifice. Don’t let your past experiences dictate what kind of high school or collegiate athlete you can be. You are still growing and maturing—let your first memories of athletics be happy, pleasant ones. Later you can hone in on your potential, and with hard work it will pay off. Always dream big! Also, recognize that every not practice is going to be awesome. Acknowledge your weaknesses (and strengths) and come to the next practice, ready to do better and fix those mistakes. Before setting foot on the court, field, track, etc. leave all your personal drama outside the door. Practices should be a distraction free zone.
Always have a day of the week where you can relax and not think about your sport. Try to plan other activities you enjoy and can look forward to. Sundays were always my days for physical and mental rest. By the time Monday rolled around I felt recharged and ready for a new week. Also, set aside time for visualization. Before practice, games, or during any moment of self-doubt, close your eyes and see yourself make a great play. Play it out in your mind, and coordinate the triumphal moment with a sense of calm and confidence.