Written By: 2018-19 U.S. DREAM Program and Adrian College Senior Varsity Team Member, Kara Klomparens
On our team we commonly ask, “How much do you have left in the tank? How much more can you give?” The answer is not always 100%, actually it is rarely 100%. Sometimes it’s only 75% or 60%; we all have hard days and on those maybe it’s only 30%. AND THAT’S OKAY! The answer to this question isn’t dependent on the number you say, it’s what you do with that number. Give 100% of whatever percent you got. Working to improve your tank’s capacity is a hard task and the bottom line is in improving your mental health.
Mental health is a lifelong skill, it is something you have to work at and practice just like anything else. Many of us tend to only notice mental health when it has gone awry, like when we’re stressed, losing sleep or anxious. However, it is important to focus on mental health when life is going smoothly as well! Having a strong concept of mental health will improve your life on and off the ice; it will enable you to give more out of your tank. You will be happier, more confident and more capable of giving your best.
So, where can we start?
- Start by sleeping!
When you’re at the peak of the season and in the depth of the school year, things start piling up quickly and sleep is commonly the first thing to slip. With that being said, it has been proven that sleep is essential for athletic ability. Non-athletes need 7-9 hours of sleep a night, and athletes need even more! The most elite and famous athletes we know report that sleep is the most important part of their training: LeBron James claims that he gets 12 hours of sleep a night and Roger Federer agrees with 11-12 hours. Not getting enough sleep reduces your ability to perform, make quick decisions, and makes you more susceptible to injury. In fact, sleeping less than 8 hours a night as a student-athlete makes you twice as likely to suffer an injury within a month.
- Eat healthy and drink plenty of water!
Food is fuel. You cannot expect your body to function if you are not feeding it properly. Eating healthy gives you the energy you need to train on the ice and learn in the classroom, it helps your endurance and recovery time as well. Make time in your schedule to eat three full meals a day and bring nutritious snacks like trail mix, fruit, or yogurt wherever you go.
Hydration is also incredibly important both throughout the day and during practice. It is recommended to drink 4 to 8 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes of practice.
- Take time for yourself!
Always remember to take the time to do what feeds your soul. That could be reading a good book, watching your favorite Netflix show, writing in your journal, or anything that makes you happy! My favorite thing to do to relax is to eat chocolate while watching ‘The Office’ with my friends!
- Learn to manage your time effectively!
The best way to handle all the stress that comes with being a student-athlete is staying ahead of the game. Part of your stress can come from keeping everything you need to do cluttered up in your head. Writing everything you have to do (homework, lessons, doctor appointments, competitions, jobs, etc.) down on paper can ease some of your unwanted stress. Try keeping an organized planner with due dates and skating commitments, this way you always know what you need to get done and when.