Recruiting seems to begin earlier every year that goes by. With athletes verbally committing to schools at younger ages, I consistently ask myself,

“How is a 13-year-old athlete supposed to make such a momentous decision?”

When I began the recruiting process, I was well into high school and didn’t commit to a school until the fall of my senior year. Looking back to the state of mind I was in at 13 or 14-years-old, I’m not 100{6a76a1575f1b91d4f1b95ffaacb36cc959f67e9570060575218018ff5ab981cd} sure I would have made the decision that was best for ME.

It is difficult to be a kid nowadays, and even more difficult to be a dedicated, competitive gymnast. There are so many potential stressors on children nowadays, between social media, the demands of school, friends, family, training, competing, and the list goes on. On top of all of that, let’s add recruiting to the list. I understand this can seem overwhelming, but you can also enjoy the process too!

So, how do you even begin to not let the recruiting stress flip you upside down? Below are some helpful tips for the journey that will hopefully provide you some breathing room for the years to come!

  • Take it one step at a time. This sounds simple, doesn’t it? But, in reality, as soon as you begin to think about what the future brings, it is easy to allow stressful thoughts and feelings to transcend any sort of rational thinking. Throughout my years involved with gymnastics, I’ve learned that things can change in a heartbeat. It can be very humbling, heartbreaking, exciting, frustrating, encouraging, etc. Allow each day to come and go. Don’t focus too much on failures or successes, but rather the upcoming goals you have set for yourself.
  • Continue to establish short-term goals. When I was a gymnast, I had a few long-term goals I set for myself. One of which was to receive a college scholarship to one of the Universities I wrote down in my notebook. Along the way, I made short-term goals for as well. Whether it was a new skill, 180* split, or to simply get my legs straight, I always wrote down short-term goals. This helped me to remain in the present, without stressing too much about the future, and it provided me encouragement when I could check off a box I accomplished.
  • Do not let failures define you. Every athlete, in fact, every successful athlete has failed several times in their careers. One of my favorite quotes of Coach John Wooden is, “Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” Do you commonly let failures determine your self-confidence or your self-belief? Don’t let them. Because your failures will ultimately lead you on the path to success, the path you were meant to take!
  • Focus inward, rather than outward. With social media overtaking all our lives, it is easy to look at another gymnast that has already committed, and compare yourself to them in a negative way. You can use others as motivation, but remain dedicated to YOUR goals. I remember around the middle of the recruiting process, I became captivated by UCLA, and wanted more than anything to be a Bruin. However, at the time, all the scholarships for my class were filled. Rather than letting disappointment takeover, I trusted Miss Val when she told me she would have a scholarship for me. She of course remained true to her word, and a couple months later, I committed to my dream school, UCLA. You never know what is going to happen, or what the future might bring. But if you worry too much about what’s going on with others around you, or what may or may not happen, you will get lost in negativity. Remain on your path, stay dedicated, and what is meant to be, will be.
  • “Hit the refresh button.”  Miss Val used to say this to us all the time when we were having a rough day of training, or a disappointing meet. The refresh button is extremely useful in every-day life, as well as gymnastics. When you are feeling stressed about a competition because you convince yourself that you have to do perfect, or you’re worried that you won’t have the skills necessary for college in 3 or 4 years, take a step back and hit your refresh button. Start over, and refocus your energy in order to adjust your current path on the Negative Nancy train, and begin again on a different, more positive track.
  • More important than anything, continue to practice positivity in everything you do. Positive thinking has been proven to combat stress. Negative thoughts and self-talk will almost always produce a negative result. If you’re preparing for the ACT/SAT or a big competition, continue to use positive talk. Use words like can or will, instead of can’t or won’t.
  • Lastly, take advantage of your support system. Family members, a mentor, your coach, close friends and teammates are great resources for you. Maybe talk to a former teammate that has already been through the recruiting process, and ask for advice. Remember not to keep your feelings or worries bottled up inside. Sometimes just talking through them can help you feel relaxed, and push forward.

I hope these tips help you to avoid becoming stressed out throughout the recruiting process. I’ve been through it, and understand the roller coaster of emotions it produces. But it can also be extremely fun and rewarding!

If this has helped you, and you’re looking for more guidance along the way, please contact me on my Facebook page or visit our website www.jhicksconsulting.com, and fill out the “Get Started” form to learn more about me and our services!

Best of luck to everyone experiencing this journey. I wish you all the best!