It’s no big secret that an elite student-athlete embarking on a journey through higher education has a MASSIVE job to do. There are many barriers, obstacles and challenges they will experience, and the ONLY way to get through these, is to prepare for them before they happen. Then, and only then will you be successful at reducing the impact of barriers and challenges to be just small bumps in the road.
I am going to start with some of the typical and more common barriers student-athletes face, and how you can prepare for them, and overcome them, so they really don’t become barriers at all.
There Will ALWAYS Be Barriers
It doesn’t matter what we do in life…there are ALWAYS going to be barriers and challenges. It is how we approach them and deal with them that determines the outcome. Our approach is what creates the reduction of the impact of future barriers and challenges. Experiencing obstacles is an opportunity to learn and grow and opens the chance to help others through the same challenges.
You DECIDE the outcome…
You CHOOSE how you deal with it…
You DETERMINE if you are going to grow through it…
While there are many challenges, obstacles, and barriers, there is also a HUGE opportunity to learn, grow, and succeed through them.
So grab a pen and paper and begin thinking about what obstacles and barriers you may face, and work out how you are going to deal with and overcome them when they arise.
Some barriers include:
- Poor peer choices
- Higher education adjustment
- Lack of knowledge on how to keep healthy while on a strict schedule
- Lack of commitment
- Time Management
- Physical and emotional stress
- Loss of interest
- Lack of confidence
- Cultural and Linguistic barriers
- Lack of support
- Mental health
- Media backlash and stereotyping
- Stress and fatigue
- Lack of funds, equipment and facilities
- Competing sports and academic commitments
And yes…there are plenty more!
Know The Barriers BEFORE They Arise
You can overcome anything if you have a plan. Knowing the possible barriers BEFORE they arise, will help you in devising a plan to deal with them, overcome them, learn and grow from them.
If you ALLOW a barrier to be an obstacle, you are very capable of smashing through it, learning from it, and preventing it from becoming a future obstacle.
The first thing you have to do…is ACCEPT that there WILL be obstacles, challenges, and certain barriers, then come up with a plan for when that does happen. The idea…is that you don’t spend time focusing on them, rather, the result you will create by overcoming them.
Focus On The End Result
Focusing on the result creates an element of positivity and confidence, rather than stress and overwhelm when focusing on the challenge itself.
Think about all the possible barriers, create an action plan, then leave it!
You can rest easy knowing you have a solution and it won’t create an interruption in the future when you need to be focused and on track.
Barriers soon become little bumps.
You move on!
One of the most obvious barriers is going to be the actual ADJUSTMENT from being in high school to moving onto higher education.
The entire outlook is completely different…
The environment, atmosphere, and layout are different
The community, diversity, support & resources are different
The schedule, organisation, training & study are different
The student is going from being the oldest in a high school to the fresh new student who is young, vulnerable, and scared shitless of the big change.
The way classes are run, the professors and lecturers, the MASSIVE change in workload, and possibly not knowing anyone, not to mention the fact that it could be the first time the student-athlete has ever been away from home.
It’s a lot to think about right??
Well yes, but…
You can begin to condition yourself BEFORE you enter higher education!!
Try to mimic as best as possible, the schedule of a student-athlete in higher education already. It’s quite easy to get hold of a previous students timetable/schedule from past years. Begin abiding by a strict training and study schedule, strict meal planning, sleeping, and so on.
You can ready yourself for the change in environment by becoming familiar with it, explore it well BEFORE your interviews. Research it online, visit college/university chat rooms, view the online maps and check out the layout. All of this is very accessible online.
Be known…visit chat groups, social media, find past and current students to chat with, and engage in conversations, reply to posts, offer advice if something pops up that you know the answer to. You will have support and resources at your fingertips before you know it.
Start to learn cooking skills, cleaning skills, personal hygiene and presentation, and take the responsibilities without your parents telling you. Then…when you go to college/university, and it’s your first time living away from home, you will adjust much easier when you are self-sufficient and responsible.
Making these adjustments now…on your own terms is going to make the final adjustment MUCH MUCH easier
When an athlete is progressing toward higher education, they are at a very crucial age of development. They are teenagers going through many changes on top of trying to stay focused, committed, and on track with academics and sports.
They are going through typical teenage issues; socially, mentally, emotionally, and physically. It really is super crucial the athlete has a support network around them. This network should consist of different people they can approach for different reasons. They NEED to know they can turn in any direction and someone will be there to guide and support them.
If they are feeling abandoned and alone, along with all of these NORMAL issues, things will very quickly snowball, and they could seriously burn out, become overwhelmed, make poor choices, and become disconnected and disinterested in the one thing they love the most…SPORT!
So, how can you prevent this from becoming a MASSIVE barrier??
Open the lines of communication first and foremost…
Talk to them about the issues they may face as an extremely focused and busy teenager, their challenges going into higher education, and what they can do when these things do occur.
Build an impeccable SUPPORT network…
Both in and out of high school and college. Personal support, support at training, support through peers, teachers, and guidance officers. Build support via college and university chat rooms and social media platforms. There is an opportunity to build a support network like no other, and the athlete won’t feel lonely or abandoned (even though they likely are not…but emotions and hormones can take over and make it feel this way)
Get routines and schedules in check BEFORE the transition…
If an athlete can start to be EXTREMELY strict with their routine and schedule, the shift into higher education won’t be such a SHOCK. It won’t be a huge change considering they are already used to sticking to a strict routine. This will make the transition much easier, with the prevention of big disruptions that will potentially throw them off course, possibly leading to disconnect and disinterest, again, of the one thing they love…SPORT!
Lack Of Knowledge Is A Barrier!
Yes, I know…how could I think there would possibly be a lack of knowledge? Your athlete is super smart and extremely talented, and what they don’t know…you can show them.
You don’t know everything, I don’t know everything, and your athlete doesn’t know everything (yet). As much as we all may like to think we do from time to time, the REALITY…is that we don’t know everything.
Nor will we ever…
So to some degree, there is always going to be a lack of knowledge. But it is possible to make yourself as knowledgeable as you can, in the areas you need to be, so you can prevent it from becoming a HUGE barrier.
So how do you know what to learn about?
It comes down to those conversations you have with your athlete first. Find out EXACTLY where they would like to see themselves in ten years…then learn what you have to do to help them get there. You can learn together. Knowledge is EVERYTHING!
When you know what direction you are roughly headed, it’s time to look at the resources and support that are available EVERYWHERE. It does take time and research…but it is well worth it when you can see all the benefits, help, resources and support out there that will help your athlete/s realise their biggest dreams.
After this…it’s time to research the place your athlete wants to attend, the location, the public community, the college/university community, the financials, living conditions, and facilities. Research the coaches, professors, teams, history, and culture.
Of course…you will want to also research the courses and degrees they would like to study, and what opportunities the outcome of that study will present to them.
Is there support on, and off, campus? What do past and present students and athletes say? How much playtime would they receive, and what position will they be able to play as an undergraduate?
Lastly…because I seriously could go on and on about the knowledge you will need, what scholarships, grants, funding, prize money, sponsorship, and endorsements are available?
Do you see the theme here??
RESEARCH, LEARNING, KNOWLEDGE!
There is a crapload of research and time required to obtain a high level of learning, so you are loaded with the knowledge you will need to proceed.
Start researching NOW…
Start learning NOW…
Gain knowledge NOW…
Overworking Will Be A Potential Barrier
I know from personal experience that overworking yourself can absolutely become a HUGE barrier, in more ways than one, and it can have serious devastating consequences.
It can be so easy to go down that track when you know you are super talented, everyone is always telling you so, and the results you’re achieving speak for themselves. You would think this is a good thing, however, to a teenage athlete, it can be very hard to be patient and wait till the time is right for your torch to shine bright.
You find yourself wanting to be where your idols and mentors are and think that you will be there in no time if you start pushing yourself harder.
This is not the case, and it can in fact be detrimental to your journey.
Even though you are elite…
Even though you are a superstar…
Even though you know you can do it…
The fact remains that you are merely a teenager. Your body is going through changes and is still in its crucial developmental stages. You are changing physically and emotionally, and overworking can create problems during these crucial stages, and worse, can cause long-term damage after the developmental phase of your life.
Don’t work harder, work smarter!
Don’t overwork yourself, be consistent and improve gradually!
Your time will come when it’s meant to…
If you trust yourself to do it now when you’re not ready, you can definitely trust yourself to achieve exponential results when you ARE ready.
Don’t get me wrong, you must ABSOLUTELY work hard, but you work hard on continual improvement over time, rather than overworking yourself too hard in the developmental years and potentially suffering some shocking results that definitely were not part of the plan.
Some of the consequences of overworking can include physical and emotional strain, repetitive overuse injuries, growing diseases, mental health issues, burnout and fatigue, and this is just to name a few.
Talk to your coach, physio, doctor and parents to discuss what the best course of action will be for you to achieve your dream, without going too hard too soon, overworking yourself, and potentially creating long-term problems later in life.
If you would like more information on potential barriers and obstacles for an elite student-athlete, come on over and join the detailed conversation in my private Facebook community, College Bound Athletes. Or…you can check out The College Sports Success Podcast if you prefer to listen rather than watch and read.
If you would like to discuss any of the services we offer at Brooke Hamilton Industries and how we can best help you, book a complimentary consultation call with yours truly and we will discuss all your options.
Stay focused on the dream