You’re a student-athlete. While you spend your summer improving the “athlete” half of that title, make sure you don’t forget to work the “student” portion, too. According to Duane Voigt, academic director for student-athletes at Stanford University, that boils down to one factor:
“Self-motivation. There are many ways to stay mentally sharp over the summer. So if a student-athlete is motivated to improve his or her mental ability and skills, then it will happen—whether that’s through summer courses, reading books or magazines, or writing a journal, for example. Just as being self-motivated in athletics allows you to accomplish greater success, the same holds true in your educational pursuits.”
Summer School. Voigt says that signing up for a class at your high school or local college can be extremely valuable for student-athletes, especially those who want to play in college. “College course work not only keeps an athlete mentally focused, it is a great way to show colleges that you are serious about school,” he says. “And oftentimes, a student can transfer additional credits to the college, which will make his schedule more manageable.”
Get a Mental Gym Membership. Reading is to the brain as what lifting is to your muscles. Voigt encourages student-athletes to “read as much as you can, and as diverse selections as you can find.” That means heading to the library—not just surfing the web. “Picking up a book—whether fiction or nonfiction—keeps us more mentally focused, especially for more than just a brief stimulating moment, which is often the case with the Internet.”
All the Write Moves. “Moving beyond the passive activity of reading,” Voigt says, “I also encourage young athletes to write, write, write—poetry if you enjoy that, or in a journal on how your day went.” You can even blog. Not only will your writing improve, you will learn things about yourself that will facilitate other kinds of self-improvement.
The Downside of Dissin’ Your Dome. Voigt says, “The biggest challenges athletes face when they don’t stay mentally in tune over the summer are struggling to get back into the academic mindset for the upcoming school year and lack of preparation for what ultimately will be a significant aspect of their future.”