USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities to play at the college level. Joe Leccesi is a former college athlete and coach at the NAIA level, where he earned an NAIA National Championship. Joe is just one of many former college and professional players, college coaches, and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience, and dedication along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation, and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.
Are you making any New Year’s resolutions? With a new year full of new possibilities around the corner, now might be a great time to address those recruiting weak spots you’d like to improve and focus on what you’d like to get done in 2019. To make the most of your year, you need to set goals that will boost your performance and increase your chances of getting recruited. With this in mind, here are seven recruiting resolutions for student-athletes.
Take up cross-training
Want to get more explosive and reduce your risk of injury? Give cross-training a shot. Taking up activities like yoga, kickboxing, skiing and swimming can help you strengthen parts of your body you don’t use in your primary sport. Developing underused muscles, joints and ligaments can help you prevent injuries and enhance overall strength, flexibility and conditioning. And if you do get injured, cross-training is a great way to stay in shape during your healing process. Once your season ends, consider adding cross-training to your off-season workout schedule. Sign up for a class with a teammate or friend to hold each other accountable.
Tackle your worst subject in school
Hopeless at math? Struggling in science? While you might be able to avoid your worst subject in college, your high school curriculum and standardized tests are another story. Bringing up your GPA makes you more attractive to college coaches and helps you qualify for academic scholarships. Plus, since students can use their best combined SAT or ACT scores for NCAA eligibility, it can pay off to take the test multiple times and use your best scores in English, math, reading and science. Each week, set aside extra time to focus on your weakest subject and look at tutoring options if your struggles continue.
Put in extra practice time
If your dream is to compete at the highest level, you can’t afford to leave the gym early or take days off. Kobe Bryant’s grueling fitness routine consisted of two hours of running, two hours of basketball and two hours of weightlifting—six hours a day, six times a week for six months. Whether it’s an extra hour after practice or a Saturday morning workout, going the extra mile can make all the difference.
Catch more z’s
Between school, sports and a social life, many student-athletes are perennially short on sleep. However, sleep deprivation is directly related to poor performance on the field and in the classroom. While the average teenager gets around seven hours of sleep a night, they should be getting at least nine. With enough shuteye, you’ll improve your test scores and perform your best during practices and games. Consistency is the key to better sleep. Stick to your bedtime and download a sleeping app to track your sleep cycle.
Replace unhealthy habits with better ones
The most effective way to break a habit is to replace it with something else. Cut down on caffeine by drinking green tea in the morning instead of a latte. Reduce your screen time by reading a book. Snack on fresh fruit instead of cookies and cake. Opt for veggies and dip over chips and fries. Identify a few bad habits you’d like to break and come up with alternatives to fill the void and cut down on your cravings.
Eat more superfoods
Sports drinks and energy bars can give you a quick boost on the field, but they are no substitute for a healthy diet. Five servings of fruit and vegetables per day will give you an abundance of natural energy and help you quickly recover from grueling workouts. Berries and cherries are rich in antioxidants and preserve muscle strength. Spinach, kale and broccoli are full of iron, calcium and vitamin A, which protect against inflammation. Beans offer plenty of protein and fiber without the saturated fat, while bananas are a low-calorie source of natural electrolytes and help prevent muscle spasms and cramps.
Update your highlight video
At NCSA, we recommend that student-athletes update their highlight video every six months. College coaches want to see your latest in-game footage as well as your current GPA and verified stats. Right after your season ends, frontload your video with new clips and send it out to show coaches your development. After all, an updated highlight video is always a great excuse to email a coach.