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Bulletproof Preparation for Success as a Collegiate Athlete

During my time as a Division One collegiate golf player moving from Australia to the United States, there were many things I wished I were better prepared to handle as a student-athlete.

If the time to apply for college is fast approaching for you, and your goal is to be accepted by the University team in your sport, here are my top five key areas you need to address to be college ready for success as a student-athlete.

Procrastination Busting – Study Smart
One of the biggest understated dilemmas for college athletes is procrastination with your academic work. I witnessed first hand the players on my team who suffered the most with poor preparation going into tournaments, not because they didn’t work hard on their game, but because they hadn’t slept nights before leaving for a tournament, sabotaging their game. The academic work doesn’t stop to accommodate your hectic schedule.

In a typical semester of approximately 98 days golf teams travel around 36 days and more if they qualify for nationals. You have to plan ahead and you won’t have your parents to nag you. It is possible to balance things well, but you will have no chance if you are a classic procrastinator who leaves assignments to the last minute. In my current role as a sport psychologist, this is one habit I work to eradicate from an athlete’s system.

Optimism and Openness to Bounce Back
You have four years on the team and you will experience slumps and adversity. It’s normal but you have to know how to pick yourself back up so don’t waste one year in a rut when you could have turned things around faster. It helps to better understand your triggers for negative thinking, know how to manage injury, expectations, protect your self-confidence, and to bring out optimistic, big picture perspective when it’s really needed. The old school approach is to learn how to better handle adversity through experience alone. A progressive approach is to train your brain to counter negative thinking when it happens and you can start today.

Self-Directed Training
At the college level, most coaches (for individual athletes) are there to mentor and manage the team, and focus less on technical coaching. It is expected that your technical game or skill be at a standard that does not require any overhauls. You must be ready to self-direct your own training and take responsibility for the intensity, focus, and attention to detail that your technical coach back home did for you. Start gathering the resources you need to make this transition as smooth as possible.

Game Analysis
During the season, there’s no time to make technical changes or get stuck focusing solely on a technical issues to improve your performance. To effectively guide your preparation from one competition to the next, you need to know how to analyze your mental game, your mind-set and emotions and how they influenced your game approach. Knowing “why” things went wrong and not just “what” went wrong will help you turn around poor performance quickly when you only have one week to the next competition.

Bulletproof Routines and Rituals to Help you get in the Zone
When you are competing almost every weekend in season, consistency is key. To enhance your ability to turn up your performance even when you aren’t feeling your best some weeks, you have to have tried and tested routines in your warm-up and between plays that get you in the zone. Don’t waste time testing these crucial habits in college, start now and be ready to compete no matter the circumstances around you.

Dr Jay-Lee Nair PhD | Psychologist MAPS
Book an appointment with Dr Jay-Lee at the Singapore Sports Medicine Centre to prepare optimally for college.