If you’ve ever played competitive sports, you know starting a new season means a lot of hard work and practice. (It’s a good thing sports are fun.) It’s also normal to feel a little nervous about starting, especially if this is your first season.
Here are a few ways to put yourself at ease and make sure you’re ready for the first day:
Start by writing an exercise plan if you don’t already have one. Schedule specific workout times during the week to help you stick with it. Ask your coach, gym teacher, or trainer for advice when writing your plan. Also, keep an exercise log. Write down how long you work out and what activity you did (cardio, lifting, etc.). That way you can keep track of different types of activities so you can mix things up (like running one day, strength training another).
Check your gear. Ask your coach if you’re not sure what you need. New equipment can be pricey, so think about using some secondhand gear if it’s available. Brothers, sisters, friends, and siblings of friends can be great sources of used equipment. Just make sure it’s very clean and still safe to use. You could ask your coach to take a look at it before the first day of practice. If you’re a returning player, take out all of your equipment, try it on, and make sure it still fits and works.
Sports camps can help new and experienced players brush up on skills before the season starts. College players, coaches, or other professionals usually teach the camps. Most include drill sessions, then scrimmages toward the end of the day. Drill work helps improve skills and scrimmaging with other campers lets you apply those skills in real-game situations. Scrimmages also can help you get the feel of playing on a team if it’s something you’re not used to. Many schools and colleges offer various sports camps during the summer and on the weekends during the school year. If camps aren’t your thing, organizing a group of people to play a weekly game can be a great way to practice.
Just make sure to take 2 days off per week from any single sport and 1 day off per week from all organized sports. Also, take at least 2 months off each year from any particular sport, otherwise you’re at a higher risk for an overtraining or overuse injury.
Your school or team will probably require a sports physical before allowing you to participate. Because everyone needs to get checked at the beginning of the season, doctors tend to be busy those times of year. So ask your mom or dad to set up an appointment early on. That gives the doctor plenty of time to fill out your paperwork so you can start your sport on time. If you wear glasses, consider visiting your eye doctor to check your prescription.
Before your season starts, consider setting a few goals, such as improving a specific skill like dribbling or passing the ball. Just making the team or getting in shape are great goals as well. Be sure to write down your goals and discuss them with your parent or coach — they can support you. If you reach your goal, set some new goals next season. Just having goals can be a great motivator!