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The decision to become a student-athlete is not only a decision that determines the next four years, it is a decision for life! It is a great opportunity to not only develop as an athlete, but more importantly to build your character and grow as a person. To assure the optimal development during College, an athlete has to find the balance between school, sports and social life in order to succeed in every part of the experience. Certain traits are essential not only to succeed on the field/court, but also in the classroom.


Nobody can do it for you! You will have your teammates, coaches and friends that will support you in any way, but in the end, you have to be your own primary motivator, especially when going through a hard time. A lot of people can tell you to study or practice more, but if you do not find the self-discipline to do it yourself you will never get out of the stage of thinking: What would happen, if I did this or that? Things will stay as they are and in the end it is up to you to change that. So do it!

2.Be prepared!

Have your priorities sorted out and work hard! In order to be successful, you have to know what is important at what time and always be prepared accordingly. For example, when you have a test, focus only on the test! Meaning you study for it and take the test without allowing distractions, like thinking about practice later that day or what you will have for dinner in two days. This philosophy is extremely important when it comes to competing in your sport. When it is time to practice, then practice! When it is game day, focus on the game! You will only be successful if you focus on what you are doing, because only then you are doing it right and to the best of your abilities.

“Failure to prepare is prepare to fail”

Your personal and ultimately team success is determined by how focused you are and how hard you worked on your game. There are no excuses! If you are not happy with your athletic performance or other parts of your life, it is on you to change that. Preparation can very well mean to work hard! Work as hard as you can until you are happy with you and your performance. Other than that you are letting yourself and your team down, which brings me to my next point;

3.Knowing the importance of teamwork

Having been part of a team that won four OVC Conference Tennis Championships (2009-2012), I can assure you that only a “true team” wins championships. Part of that is being respectful to your teammates, building a positive environment and understanding cultural differences.

A team might have better individual players but it will still fall short in the pursuit of a championship because the team members only play for themselves and not for the common good. Players in a strong team environment want to win for each other and they want to win so they can celebrate as a team. Ultimately this way of thinking will also have a positive impact on your entire College experience. If you are friends with your teammates, you not only build relationships to win games but you also build them for life.

4.Always think positive!

I cannot stretch this point enough and it is of vital importance in the process of building a young athletes’ character. What good can come out of the fact, that some players think they will lose the game before it even started? I think we all know the answer to that, but nonetheless it happens all the time. There will always be players that are bringing the team down and more than often this happens unintentionally because they do not realize what effects their actions or words can have on their teammates. That is why it is so important to embrace and pass on a healthy, positive mindset. Ultimately that is one of the keys to success, especially when trying pull off an upset.

This trait will not only help your team win, but rather get you a new perspective on life and help you in all areas of it. Along the way you will go through hard times and have doubts but the important thing is to figure out a way to find solutions by staying positive. Push this way of thinking among your team and friends; and it will have a positive impact on your life!

5.The pure will to win

In the world of College Athletics it is possible to hide your weaknesses and beat a slightly superior team or player simply by expressing your pure will to win. This will often times even lead to an upset and award the harder working party.

“Hard work beats talent, if talent doesn’t work hard!”

I have seen it happen all too often, especially in mid-level NCAA Division 1 competition, where allegedly inferior players/teams beat their opponents only because they wanted it more. There lies the beauty of competition at this level and make this trait so immensely important, because it sorts out the winners from the losers. Teams with the will to win will get better and will succeed. How often have I heard that a team who was nearly as good as the other team cannot beat them because their players were more talented, better coached, better conditioned, etc.; When the will is strong enough and you have the belief that you can win, all this talk means nothing. The answer lies on the field/court! It lies within yourself!

Whether or not you will be able to develop all these traits depends on you. You might not have the predisposition to adapt these qualities perfectly but just a little bit of each trait will help you to on the way to become a successful student-athlete! Do YOU have what it takes?

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