There Is a Way, But It’s On You 

If you are a high school athlete who has put your sport waaaaay in front of your grades for waaaaay too long, but you want to play college sports so badly it hurts, it’s time to face reality — good grades are absolutely necessary if you have any hope of reaching the next level and make no mistake, it’s on you to make it happen.  

Improving study habits includes learning how to isolate yourself from distractions.

Want proof?  The NCAA recently released findings which showed fewer and fewer college coaches are taking the risk of recruiting prospects who are borderline academically.  If that’s you, or your kid, things need to change and we have some answers for you which will get you back on track…if you put in the work. 

Still with us?  Great.  Here are the things you will have to do:

  1. Prioritize…NOW.  Make up your mind that grades deserve the same attention as your sport.  That’s right…just as important.  How many hours a week do you put into practicing and playing your sport?  Really, add up the hours.  Now, look at your core classes.  That’s probably about four hours sitting in class, leaving you about six or so hours every week of studying you’ll need to do.  That’s not all that bad, right?  At first, it may seem impossible to think about putting in that much time studying, but if you are indeed serious, that’s where you start.   
  2. $!  Yes, money.  A’s and B’s in your core classes are worth real dollars, academic dollars.  The more A’s and B’s you earn, the more money (and it is FREE money) you will make toward paying for your college education.  Don’t settle for less.  Let the school pay you instead of you paying them.  Make sense?
  3. Help!  Anyone who makes good grades has help.  No one does it alone.  Parents, friends, classmates, teachers…they can all be excellent support for you as you head down this new path.  Don’t hesitate to talk to them about your academic goals and ask for their help every step of the way.  Time to swell up and be somebody.  Jump on in.  It won’t hurt. 
  4. Flex time.  As an athlete, studying at home isn’t always practical.  Circumstances may dictate that you be flexible when you study.  During lunch, on the bus trip, before or after the game, match or meet.  It’s one of the major challeges which you will have to cope with and overcome.  It’s part of the academic game. 
  5. Isolate.  For somebody who has no clue how to study properly in the first place (that’s you), getting comfortable studying alone can be rough.  Get over it.  All distractions must go.  TV…off.  Cell phone…off.  Texts…no way.  To do this the right way, you have to put yourself in the right environment, and that way is ALONE with your books and class notes.  

    Improvement may come slowly at first, but it will come if you are persistent.

  6. Pay attention!  In your core classes, most everything you see on quizes and tests will have happened in class.  When your teacher starts class, focus, listen and take notes.  Ask questions when you are confused.  You know, like a real student.  Perhaps nothing is more critical to making good marks than how you conduct yourself in that 40 to 90 minutes you spend engaged with your teacher.  You will find that your grades will immediately improve just by taking detailed notes and reviewing them before being tested.          
  7. Hunker down.  Mental toughness will give you another bump in grades.  What do you do before practice?  You get mentally prepared.  Academics are no different.  There is a mindset which you must adopt.  When you are heading into class, get into it.   When you study at home, get into it.  Don’t allow the other stuff which has always prevented you from succeeding to get in your way.  Good grades, like a stellar game, match or meet, happen because…you mentally get into it.       
  8. Become the book.  Don’t even think about leaving your books in your locker when you head home.  There is no way to get better academically if your books are locked up where you can’t get to them.  Class notes can take you only so far.  You need backup and your books have your back.  Further, the only way to get something valuable from your books is to do the things above which give you a realistic chance to improve your grades.  You cannot get better grades unless you study.  Plain and simple.
  9. Practice.  Studying and improving your study habits is exactly like practicing your sport.  Really.  You have become a better athlete because…you practiced…and practiced…and practiced.  Right?  Then, it follows that you will be a better student if you practice the techniques necessary to improve.  Right?  Here’s the problem:  you are already a good athlete and your patience may run thin when as a student you are not excellent at it right away.  Like athletics, it takes some practice, dedicated practice.  Evaluate, week-to-week, how you did.  Good or not so good, bump it up a notch the next week.  It will come.  

    Asking for help is a key part of being a good student.

  10.   Drive.  When you step on the field, court, mat or track, you are driven to excel.  It’s essential that you take the very same approach to your studies.  Each day is an opportunity to take a step closer to reaching your objectives.  Assume nothing.  Stay involved.  Look forward.  Push yourself ahead. 
  11.   Win.  If you have read this far, you’re probably on the verge of making a key decision.  Will I commit to this?  If you do, do it to win.  Go all out, not halfway.  Don’t allow yourself to slip back into old habits which got you into this predicament in the first place.  Momentum comes with little wins.  Listening.  Taking good notes.  Nightly home studying.  Asking for help.  Preparing well each day.  Settling only for the win.   

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