How to Dominate Freshman Year as a Student-Athlete

Freshman, college, athlete, student, employer, friend… the list of roles that need to be juggled when you enter college as a student athlete is no easy task. And doing them all “well” can be even more challenging. At Dr. Dish a standard that we preach is to be is to “Be Better Every Day”. A great standard to live by, especially in your first year at college.


There is no magic equation that will make your first year easy. Face it, it is an experience unlike anything else you’ve been through in life so far. But there are some small things that you can do to make sure you stay on the right track.

First, take one day at a time, and focus on being better every day. It might sound cheesy but it’s the best that you can do.  Here are some tips that will make getting better every day a little bit more manageable:

  1. Say No: Learn to say no when your plate is full. It’s important to get involved as a freshman and to get exposed to all of the great things that college life has to offer, such as clubs, dorm activities, and social events. Although, part of being a student athlete means having to miss out on some of this stuff to prioritize the sport and school.
  2. Be on Time, to Everything:  The quickest way to gain the respect of your teammates/classmates is to show up on time and be to present, don’t be too cool to participate in anything.  
    • Find a calendar app that you love and sync your classes, practice schedule, and other events to it. If you want to be even more prepared, set up alarms that will alert you 10 minutes before an event as a safety net.
    • An agenda isn’t for everyone, but at least keep a running tally of to-do’s so you don’t lose track of important tasks.
  3. Self Care: Take care of yourself. This means mental and physical rest, this is the fuel you’ll need to stay energized not just throughout the day but through your practices and games as well. This also means eating right, do not skip meals no matter how tight you are on time - it never ends well.
  4. Always be first to Volunteer to Help: No one likes a suck up, so don’t over do this - but be on the lookout for opportunities to help. This may be helping your strength and conditioning coach re-rack weights, or helping another teammate pick up the balls after open gym to put them away. It’s easy to sit back and watch someone else do it but it’s FAR more rewarding to be the one helping.
  5. Smile! There is science behind the idea that smiling often reduces stress and improves performance. When you smile, your muscles and brain communicate and say “Oh I must be happy about something.” Similarly, if that muscle isn’t flexed then your brain thinks, “Oh, I must not be happy”. And to keep it simple, positive people are much more enjoyable to be around. Your teammates will thank you!

Although being a student and an athlete in college is not easy, it is definitely a rewarding experience that most don’t get the chance to do. Your collegiate career will go by fast, so embrace every moment and be better everyday!


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