Directions for the college athlete


Healthy Eating for Athletes
June 10, 2008, 11:21 pm
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As an athlete you have perfected your favorite pre-game meal…I’m not much of a carbo loader so my dish of choice is the one an only CARNE ASADA BURRITO. While having a prescribed pre-game meal is essential for some athletes, its not the most important aspect of an athletes diet.

I’m here to tell you that there is a lot more to learn with regards to your diet than carbs, Powerbars and Gatorade. For one thing, athletes need to take in more calories than other more sedentary people. Some athletes need as many as 5000 calories to properly fuel them for competition and peak performance.

Food Pyramid Remix

Do not fixate on carbs alone for your diet. Sure carbohydrates are an important source of fuel, but they’re only one of dietary elements necessary for an athletes proper nutrition. Protein and fat should not be neglected; an athlete needs to maintain a balance diet to ensure their own consumption of essential vitamins and minerals.

Protein

Protein is definitely an important element of an athletes diet, but this does not mean that an athlete needs to take in an excessive amount to build muscles.

It is important to keep in mind that muscle growth comes form proper training and hard work, not protein intake. This is a fallacy that can cause pretty serious health complications such as: And taking in too much protein can actually harm the body, causing dehydration, calcium loss, and even kidney problems.

Protein can be obtained from meats, eggs, dairy, nuts, and soy products.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates provide athletes with an excellent source of fuel. It is important for athletes to select carbohydrates that come from whole grains (such as brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and starchy vegetables) rather than processed foods such as white rice and white bread.

Sugary carbs are considerably unhealthy choices for athletes because they don’t provide any vital minerals or nutrients. The consumption of these foods can often give athletes a quick burst of energy, but then cause them to “crash”.

Fats

Everyone needs some fat in thier diets, this is especially true for athletes because active muscles easily burn through carbohydrates. Fats are necessary for long-lasting energy. Obviously fat consumption needs to be in moderation.

Hydration

As an athlete you need to take hydration as seriously as you take your overall nutrition; even a moderate dehydration can adversely affect your physical or mental performance.

While you have probably heard the whole “drink eight 8 oz. cups of water a day” thing it is not truly an accurate measure for hydration. Hydration needs differ from person to person as the result of different heights and weights that people have.

One way to stay hydrated is to drink enough water to prepare you for physical activity; try to drink a few cups of water before and after practices and make sure to drink enough water during exercise. Don’t force yourself to drink too much because it could slow you down.

*Note: Sports drinks are an acceptable form of hydration, but athletes should avoid drinking carbonated drinks or juice because they could upset your stomachache while playing.

In Season v. Out of Season Diet

One of the greatest nutrition lessons that you must learn is to maintain a proper diet when you are in or out of season that is in accordance with your level of physical activity.

Obviously you will need more calories when you are in season than you will when you are out of season.

I’m sure your familiar with the term “freshman 15.” This is the result of students fending for themselves for the first time. To avoid this condition you must be conscious of your caloric intake in relation to the amount of exercise you are doing each day.

IF YOU ARE NOT IN SEASON…DON’T EAT LIKE YOU ARE.

That is some pretty important advice because if you do continue to eat a high calorie diet when you are not as active you will gain weight. Unless you’re a lineman this probably won’t help your athletic performance.

*Note: You will get fat if you don’t follow my advice.



Beat the Roomate Blues
May 30, 2008, 4:25 am
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At just 17 or 18 years old the only roommate you have ever had was probably one of your siblings. The fact is that most college freshmen will live with a complete stranger for the first time.

I’m sure you’ve heard your fair number of success and horror stories about roommate living, but the way in which you interact is entirely determined by each pair. Think about it…you are two or three strangers thrown together in a space the size of a cubicle.

You can treat each other in one of two ways. First you can decide to live in harmony by respecting one another and enjoy your cozy den…or you can make each other’s lives a living hell and make your room feels like a rat cage.

Communicating Boundaries

To avoid the road to rat cage-dom it is important to learn about each other’s quirks,habits, boundaries, and schedules. Open communication early on is the best way to promote a healthy relationship. You need to discuss personal issues that you or your roommate(s) are sensitive to.

Maybe you just can stand it when someone wears their shoes in your room…instead of holding in your aggravation, just let the other person know in a polite way. Addressing small problems as they arise will help prevent outbursts or fits that come from suppressed annoyances.

These early discussions will often lead to agreeable perimeters. While these “rules” are helpful they will not be useful in every situation. You should make new adjustments as problems arise.

*Note: Just because your roommates with someone doesn’t mean that they’re your new built in BFF. Make sure to get to know your roommate and give them space so that you don’t get sick of each other.

Useful Tips

  • Fill out your roommate questionnaire carefully. If you write that you don’t drink or smoke and you go to bed around 9 p.m. they might just pair you up with a grandma. (That’s a joke…grandma’s don’t usually live in dorms, but hey you never know).
  • Call or email one another about what furniture or electronics that you are bringing. There is no need for two TVs, two couches, or two kitchen tables!
  • Buy a calendar and message board. This will help you guys stay in touch when your schedules don’t over lap.
  • Make sure you talk to your HA or RA if you are having any issues adjusting to dorm life. They are there to help, but if you have a problem with your roommate(s) try and talk with them first.


Importance of Athletic Trainer
May 29, 2008, 5:53 pm
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If you’re an athlete that is talented enough to play on a college sports team than you’ve probably been playing the sport for a number of years…and you’ve probably had your fair share of injuries.

I know that talking about injuries is kind of taboo, but there is something that I need to share with you. In college sports, athletes will often exert their bodies to new levels that they have yet to experience. This degree of physical activity means that their bodies will not be able to recover as easily as they use to.

As a college athlete you have a responsibility to yourself, your teammates, your coaches, and your school to be in the best condition possible. In order to maintain a healthy body you may need to find new methods of recovery. The best ways to prevent injury and promote fast recovery are eating healthy, training regularly, stretching after activity, and visiting the trainer.

Athletic Trainers

In college you have a new resource for recovery, a sports trainer. If you went to ritzy high school you may have already had this luxuries, but for most athletes this is an all new experience.

What is an athletic trainer? An athletic trainer is the person whose job it is to make sure that the athletes have proper care for their aches and pains. It is their job is to tape, ice, stem, stretch, rub, ultrasound etc.

Trainers may often require that you visit them in your free time if you have a serious or nagging injury. While this may seem like a pain (hahaha…pun intended) it is incredibly vital for your recovery and for your maintenance.

*Note: A trainer is not a doctor. They are educated in helping athletes recover, but if you are seriously injured you will need to see a doctor and most likely a specialist.

Do I have to go?

No…it is not required that you visit the trainer. For the most part it is entirely up to you whether or not you utilize this resource. In the event of a serious injury, your coach will probably step in and require that you see a trainer and if necessary a doctor.

*Note: A trainer has the ability to hold you out of practice or game play if they determine that your injury is severe. Please don’t let this information keep you from seeing a trainer or a doctor if you are injured. Playing in one game or one practice is not worth risking your health.



Summer/Preseason Training
May 27, 2008, 5:20 pm
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As you finish your senior year you are probably very excited about things like prom, graduation, and your last summer with all your high school buddies. While all of these activities are very important in the life of a young adult you NEED TO STAY FOCUSED about your upcoming season!!!!

By now you will have selected a university and signed a letter of intent (f.y.i. this is the contract that obligates you to attend the school). After you have been signed the university will send you tons and tons of mailings. You will receive information about housing, loans, admissions, freshmen orientation, registration etc.

While all of these documents are significant, your parents will probably be more interested it them than you will. The one piece of mail you don’t want to simply pass along is your summer training packet.

What is a summer training packet?

A summer training packet is essentially a schedule of rigorous activities that are designed to get you in shape before your season begins. This packet is typically put together by athletic trainers and coaches that are experienced with the level of fitness that is required for an athlete to remain competitive at the college level.

* Note: Not all sports will require their athletes to complete a summer training packet. Summer training is especially important for athletes that compete in the fall. However, all sports teams will ask their athletes to remain active and to try to participate in as many competitions as possible before starting their freshmen year.

Significance

Why should you do the summer training packet? You might be thinking ‘I’m fit, I’ll be fine if I keep doing what I’m doing.’ This type of thinking is absolutely false.

Competing in college sports is tremendously different from any competition that you have ever faced. At this level of play every athlete you face is talented and skillful. What sets players apart is their work ethic.

Coaches will often have some sort of hell week at the beginning of the season to see who their most dedicated players are by determining who is the most fit. This can even determine who starts the first game and who has to sit it out on the BENCH!!!



Selecting a School
May 25, 2008, 3:36 am
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The selection of a university is imperative for determining how the next four years of your will go. Literally every aspect of your life will be affected by this decision. Think about it, pretty much everything about life as you know it will change…your social life…your family life…Fluffy your cat, she’s sure gonna’ miss you…boyfriend or girlfriend, yeah that is effected too.

The decision to attend a specific university is not however the be-all-end-all of your life. Although it might feel like that sometimes, it really isn’t. For most people college is just a stepping stone; try and think of it as so. This will help you focus on what is truly important.

Good Team ≠ Good School

If you’re on this blog you are probably considering participating on a college sports team. This decision reveals that you are in fact a serious and dedicated athlete (if you weren’t you wouldn’t be playing, right?). Be forewarned of the hazard of attending a university based solely off of its sports program or financial aid package.

I know…I know…I know….you’ve probably dreamed of being a Tar Heel or Trojan for your entire life, but choosing a school because of its team is not a very good idea. Sadly no one shared this news with me.

I spent my entire life dreaming of playing Div. I soccer. I put that goal practically above anything else.

When it came time to pick a school I had a ton of strong academic choices, but only a few mediocre offers for soccer. I bet you can guess what I did…yeah, I picked soccer. I moved 800 miles away from my hometown and I was pretty much miserable.

While that’s just my sob story, I think that a lesson can be learned from it. To truly find the right fit, you need to consider many other facets that the university has to offer.

Academic Programs

While you’ll always have your memories of wearing your school’s colors and scoring the winning goal…you will also have a very important piece of paper to take away with you…your degree.

This fact needs to be kept in mind when selecting a university. I know that many freshmen are not decided on their majors when they enter college, but academic programs should still play are large part in the decision making process.

Think about all the fields that interest you right now…I’m not just talking about the soccer field…you really need to try and narrow down your overall areas of interest to insure that the university that you select is equipped to handle your interests.

Other Important Things to Consider

· Distance away from your current home

· Costs/finances

· Visit the campus before you sign a letter of intent (you should know what you’re getting into)!!!

· Coaches

· Housing

· Homesickness

· Facilities (does the school have a proper athletic trainer/doctors, nice classrooms, up to date IT, ect.)

· Friends

· Relationships

· Location of the school (have you ever live in the mountains, in the cold, near a beach, etc.)

· Food (I know the quality of the cafeteria shouldn’t be important, but it is)

· Grades (is the school a good fit academically or will you be over or under prepared)

· Social life

· I’m sure there are a ton more…but this is enough to think about as it is!!!



How to get college coaches interested in you
May 11, 2008, 8:21 am
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So you’re a great player…on a great team… in a great league that is full of other great players.

So how will you ever get noticed? Lucky you, there are several ways to get your name out there! This post will focus on how to get college coaches and scouts to come watch you play.

Talk with Coaches

First, you should speak with your coach and let him know about your interest in playing in college. By opening up this dialogue, he or she will be better informed about your intentions. This information is valuable because coaches often times have more contact with college scouts than individual players have.

Player Profile Construction

Second, develop a player profile. A player profile is a document that lists your positive attributes as both a student and a player. Your player profile should include:

1. Your full name and contact information such as your email address and home phone number.

2. Awards that you have received academically such as: scholar athlete, AP awards, honor roll, etc.

3. Awards that you have received athletically such as: varsity letters, MVP, Rookie of the Year, All-League, All-Conference, etc.

4. An up-to-date list of your athletic history. This list should range from most recent to most dated. Only club and higher levels of athletic play should be mentioned. Coaches are not interested in recreational sports.

5. A list of extracurricular activities and volunteer work may be included. (This may help coaches determine if their school has a specific scholarship opportunity that you could try for.)

Email Letter

Third, develop an email that could be sent to many different institutions. The emails will be sent to college coaches to inform them of your interest in their school and program. (Hint: You can find a complete list of Div. I, II, and III schools on the NCAA website.) It should be no longer than half a page. It should include your name, athletic experiences, and goals.

The emails could be more personalized if you research about the school or sports program. You could say something like, “I’m really interested in USC’s psychology department. I have read that it is ranked very high in the field,” or “I’ve been following your program for a few years and I’ve noticed you haven’t had a high scoring forward for awhile, I think I could help you with that.” Don’t be afraid of being assertive; use common sense and try to be as professional and as concise as possible.

Create a DVD

The final method for getting noticed is by creating your own personal DVD. The DVD should essentially be a highlight reel of your past games. In addition to the segmented play, you should also include a full half or quarter of one of your best games. This will help coaches to assess your “unedited” ability. You could hire someone to edit the footage or do it yourself or with a parent. These DVD’s could be passed out at tournaments or sent out to college coaches that reply to the email that your already sent out.



Hint: the best way to get noticed is playing for a great team
May 5, 2008, 11:15 am
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The first step for any athlete hoping to participate in college sports is to be part of a good team. This process is not as simple as it sounds. A lot of research needs to go into finding the best program with several key factors that need to be considered.

High School vs. Club

In some sports college scouts prefer to attend high school games; in these cases there is nothing that the player can do about team selection except moving into a different school district. For other sports college scouts will attend club/traveling or league play. It is important to determine whether scouts will be more interested in your high school team or your club team.

Finding a Club Team

There are several outlets that need to be consulted before a player tries out for a team. The player or their parent needs to research the Internet to find out any information about the local teams. If you already compete in a club program, you may wish to transfer squads if you aren’t getting enough playing time, exposure, etc. Between the ages of 16-18 it is important that the athletes plays for a well known team and gets a lot of playing time so that college scouts could see them at tournaments.

Factors for Team Selection

Coaching:

One of the most important facets for choosing a team is the credibility of the coaching staff. The coaches need to be reputable and have a good reputation for training stellar athletes. If the coaches are not well known they may not have the skills needed to train you into becoming a college level athlete. Most well respected coaches will be able to name some of the people that they have trained and tell you about which school they went to.

Cost:

Many club programs can run into the thousands of dollars per year. Make sure you are committed to the sports before you start handing over the cash. There are some teams that will make exceptions or sponsor talented players that cannot afford the extra expense. The best thing to do if you are in this case is to talk to the coaches you are trying out for. If they aren’t considerate of your needs, consult friends or the web to find a program that is willing to work things out with you.

Location:

The team needs to practice somewhere that is reasonably close to your home if possible. I have played for a club team that was over an hour away. There were many consequences having to travel so far. I had trouble keeping up with my homework because my commute was so long. Not to mention the horrible amounts of money I through away paying for gas.

Teammates:

Try and find out about the reputation of the players on the team. The best way to do this is to ask around; if you have any friends that have competed against the team, they may be able to offer insight into how they behave. This may be important if they are considered “dramatic” or prone to fighting because no one wants to put up with a bunch of jerks whether it be on the field or off of it.

Side Note: Commitment is Preferred

If they athlete already competes at the most competitive level, then they may wish to stay with their team. If a player has been with one team for a long time, college coaches will view the player favorably because it could be assumed that the player has strong loyalty, commitment, and most likely competence because the coach has kept them around for so long.