Everyone is chanting your name, the stadium is filled, and you are the big fish in a small pond.
However, imagine being 18 years, old away from your family, and practicing three hours a day, 6 days a week, plus the expectation of doing extra skill work. There are days where you feel like you cannot move out of your bed because your legs are so sore. Everything hurts but you are expected to jump right out of bed and do it all again. Then there is the mental aspect of putting yourself through the same pain as you endured the practice prior. Your legs shake, the arms feel like Jell-O, and you want to quit. How are you supposed to continue? But your coaches and teammates are expecting you to push through. They need you.
The thought of playing a sport in college can sound like a dream until you are fully immersed in what sometimes feels like a nightmare. This is my fourth year of being a Division I college athlete and I am not going to lie, it has taken me a long time to learn how to care for my body.
Over all the years of being an athlete, there are important steps that should be taken in order to keep your body mentally and physically able for the game. First, it is important to be well rested. In an average day, an athlete spends so much time working out physically whether it is running or in the weight room.
What about after those work outs? The only way the body can truly recover is when it is well rested. It is important for an athlete to have at least 9 hours of sleep per night in order to have the best recovery.
Additionally, it is important to stay hydrated and constantly replenishing the liquids in your body. In order to have optimal performance an athlete should be putting water and electrolytes in their body to perform to the best of their ability.
Another important way to keep your body healthy is by using the medical training room. A benefit of being an athlete in college is you have full access to trained professionals in sports medicine. There are ambudant amounts of recovery aids that athletes have access to such as ice baths and hot baths, foam rollers, and stilumation machines.
While so much emphasis is on the actual sport, many times people do not realize the behind the scenes actions that take place. There is so much physical stress on a person’s body when they play a college sport and athletes should take time to make sure they are preventing injuries from occurring.
While playing a sport in college has many physical and mental challenges I would not have changed it for the world. The lessons and memories you make with your team will last you a lifetime. College can be challenging because you are away from your home, sometimes for the first time, surrounded by all new people. Nonethless, college has given me teammates who became my sisters and for that, I could not thank the sport enough.