Kamala Nellen of Coaching for Champions says student athletes who want to get to the next level have to work smart. Here are four tips that can help you do that.

As a student athlete, you have to keep your grades up, and you have to aim to perform consistently at 100 percent of your ability in your sport. This is necessary if you want to be seen and sought after by schools and professional teams. With your schedule crammed to the max, how will you do it all?  There is a lot to juggle, and some weeks you won’t have time for everything. How will you keep up the pace? When you don’t look at what is missing in your daily life that feeds your spirit, things can start to fall apart. When a high achiever drives nonstop toward one goal, it’s easy to max out—and burn out.

Here are four tips to help you more effectively navigate the track.

  1. Create a weekly schedule. Write it out on Sunday, with action points for the week ahead. This may sound tedious but believe me, it will stand you in good stead when you start to flag. First, list the set things you have to do—such as training time, practice, competitions, tryouts. Add the hours you spend in classes at school and the time you need to set aside for homework. Write in times for meals and for sleep.
  2. In your schedule, set aside time for self-care. Designate a time for rest—as in hang out / do nothing time or go fishing time. Add in a time for social life. And, finally, schedule time to meditate or to turn off all the media for an hour and allow yourself quiet time so you can rest your senses. This last is essential.
  3. Monitor your energy every day. This means you have to be sensitive to yourself: pause during the day and pay attention to the state of your body and your mind. Are you getting irritated? Are you full on angry? Are you tired? Are you sleepy? Are you hungry? Are you eating balanced meals? Are you drinking enough water? Do you need a few minutes to regroup? Pay attention and take care of those simple needs.
  4. At the end of each month, take a step back and review your schedule. Get oriented to the big picture. As an athlete, you may be focused entirely on your performance goals while excluding the rest of the picture. If you do that, eventually your main goal will suffer because you need a degree of balance in order to feed your enthusiasm for your sport consistently. Add in a half day a week or a day every month or so to do those things that you have left out, things that feed your spirit and fill you up. You know what those things are.

Every single day is a gift, a blank slate for you to create your success as you see it. Take care of your body and your mind. You are special, and you deserve it. If you do this, then you will stay the course and reach your goal—and you’ll have a smile on your face.