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How to Beat the Back-to-School Scaries

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Starting a new school year can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Whether you’re adjusting to a larger school, making new friends, familiarizing yourself with new teachers and classes or feeling the pressure of competition, those familiar “back-to-school scaries” might pay a visit. 

But don’t worry, we’re here to help you prepare. We’ve compiled some practical tips to assist you in managing those nervous feelings that often accompany change. And hey, when you’re facing those nail-biting moments before your first game of the season, we’ve got a special Mental Performance exercise from an IMG Academy+ coach that can help you stay cool and confident. 

What are the back-to-school scaries?

The “back-to-school scaries” are basically those worries and nervous feelings that often show up as a new school year gets closer. For student-athletes, managing these “scaries” can be a bit tougher due to handling both school and sports. But remember, feeling stressed when things change is totally normal. Once you understand this, you’ll be better equipped to tackle these challenges and navigate your way through them. 

Did You Know? NCSA’s Recruiting Checklists are designed to help student-athletes take ownership and control of their recruiting process all year round. Discover the essential recruiting tasks you should address now that the school is back in session.  

Stress management tips for student-athletes 

Understanding that your “back-to-school scaries” are linked to stress and our body’s natural response to change can empower you to confront them head-on. That’s why we’ve compiled six practical tips to boost your stress management skills, giving you the confidence to navigate the school year with minimal stress. 

  1. Stay Organized: Use planners or digital tools to track assignments, tests and important dates. Being organized eases last-minute rushes. 
  1. Break Tasks Down: Tackle large tasks by breaking them into smaller, doable steps. This strategy makes your never-ending to-do list more manageable. 
  1. Prioritize Self-Care: Get enough sleep, eat well and stay active! Taking care of your body boosts mood and stress resilience. 
  1. Manage Your Time Wisely: Create a study schedule for each subject. Avoiding procrastination minimizes last-minute stress and boosts productivity. 
  1. Seek Support: Don’t hesitate to ask for help from teachers, coaches, friends or family when needed. You don’t have to deal with the “scaries” alone! 
  1. Practice Relaxation: Incorporate relaxation techniques like deep breathing and mindfulness into your routine. Regular practice can improve your overall well-being. 

Did You Know? All NCSA MVP members get access to Mental Performance and Nutrition webinars each month? For a more personalized experience, try one-on-one IMG Academy+ coaching, available to add at an additional cost to any membership.

Mastering the scaries on game-day

The “scaries” don’t just impact your school and personal life – they can sneak into your sports game too. When that first practice, game or competition approaches, the pressure can really kick in, sometimes making you doubt yourself. But you know what can beat it? A positive mindset! 

So, we asked Dr. Greg Young, Manager IMG Academy+ Coaching and Development at IMG Academy, to share a Mental Performance exercise that’s perfect for moments like this. Give it a try – it only takes a few minutes but can make a lasting impact on your game.  

IMG Academy+ Mental Performance Exercise: Setting a Positive Intention 

Goal: This exercise is tailored for the first game or practice of the school year and emphasizes creating a positive mindset to drive your actions. It also involves engaging others in your process to help you achieve your goals. 

  1. Team Up and Reflect: Grab a teammate and take a few minutes to think about what you want to achieve this season. Consider the kind of teammate you want to be, how you’d like to handle pressure and your personal growth goals. 
  1. Share Your Goals: Have an open chat with your partner about your goals. Share your dreams and the mindset you’re planning to bring to practices and games. Listen carefully as your partner does the same. 
  1. Build Each Other Up: Once both of you have shared your goals, discuss how you can support each other throughout the season. Brainstorm ways to stay on track when challenges arise and keep each other motivated. 
  1. Visualize Success: Take 30 seconds of quiet time to mentally commit to your goals for the season. Do your best to create an image in your mind where you can see and feel yourself living up to your goals.  

Remember, you and your teammate are in this together! Finish by giving them a high-five to seal the deal. As the season progresses, refer back to these steps to keep your goals in focus.

IMG Academy+ mental performance exercises

Take your game to the next level with IMG Academy+Explore the full range of mental performance and nutrition services offered to the student-athletes at IMG Academy. Get personalized one-on-one coaching sessions led by experienced mentors to enhance your sports training and achieve your goals.  

Ease your recruiting worries with NCSA

We know juggling school and sports can be tough, but it shouldn’t get in the way of your recruiting journey and sports dreams. NCSA College Recruiting is here to support you every step of the way, so you can say goodbye to the stress (and “scaries”) that comes with recruiting.  

Start by creating your profile today or learn more about our services and find out how we can help you reach your goals.