Thinking about taking your wrestling to the next level? If high school wrestling is a big part of your life, then you are probably already imaging life at the college level. As you have probably heard, college is a completely different world than high school. The stakes are higher, the competition is fiercer, and that’s not just in the classroom.
In college, your performance off the mat matters just as much as your on-mat achievements. From academic performance, to mental health, to nutrition, a properly managed life off the mat will be your ticket to success in wrestling. Here are some tips to help you transition successfully from a high school wrestler to a collegiate athlete.
Start Eating Right
There are a lot of differences between high school and college wrestling, and one is narrowed weight classes. While there are 14 in high school, there are only 10 in college. And unlike high schoolers who change weight classes frequently, college wrestlers are often expected to stay in the same weight class throughout their career. With this in mind, it is time to get a real handle on your nutrition. Drop those unhealthy tricks you’ve used to lose weight quickly and replace them with healthy ways to cut weight. Temporary tactics aren’t healthy, they can affect your overall performance and can lead to detrimental health problems. Get ahead of the game by developing healthy habits now.
A huge part of making it into a top wrestling program is getting noticed by college coaches on the recruiting trail. It is important to make sure you get out in front of these coaches and show them what you’ve got. That means competing in tournaments where these coaches will be present. Getting noticed by a coach could be a life-changing moment for your wrestling career, and it could even result in a scholarship.
Don’t Forget About Your Grades
With all of the practice, travel and competitions, it can be easy to put your schooling on the backburner. However, it is your grades that will be the ticket to the NCAA school of your choice. After all, even if you are recruited, you will need to be accepted into the university if you are going to be able to go.
And the pressure isn’t off once you’re accepted. Every school is going to have very strict rules about student athletes. You will be expected to maintain good standing in your classes if you plan to compete. Start making good habits now by staying on top of your studies.
Practice Time Management
Managing time can be a challenge for any student, athlete or even adult. Once you get to college, you are completely responsible for your own schedule, and it can be hard to find a healthy work-fun balance. To make the transition easier, start creating healthy time management and organizational skills now. Create a schedule that works for you and stick to it daily. Start going to bed and waking up earlier to encourage a more productive lifestyle. If you can start doing this on your own now, it won’t be so jarring when your college wrestling coach calls for 5:00 am-sessions in the weight room.
Up Your Commitment Level
You already eat, sleep, and breathe wrestling, but in college, it’s a whole new level. Everyone competing on the college level was one of the best in their high school. The competition, even between team members, will be intense, and your commitment to the craft will have to be even more all-consuming. Wrestling will no longer be a seasonal sport, and your entire life will revolve around wrestling all year. Get ahead of your peers by making this transition early. Start training in the off seasons and attend wrestling camps during the summer.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
College is a common time for mental health issues to start affecting young students. Everything from increased academic pressure to adjusting to college life can cause a spike in anxiety and depression in even the most well-adjusted students. In fact, 75 percent of mental health conditions develop before the age of 24, which means college students are the most vulnerable. There’s no way to ensure you won’t develop anxiety or depression while in college, but you can help by becoming more aware of your mental state now. Start practicing positive self-care and mindfulness to take steps towards keeping your mental health in check. Downloading relaxation or sleep apps, meditating after workouts and learning the signs of anxiety and depression are all good habits to get into before college. Get a head start on working on your mental state to be the best wrestler, student and person you can be.
Hopefully, these tips will help you make the transition from high school to college as seamless as possible and will help you to become the next NCAA champion.