5 Habits of Successful College Athletes

We are all creatures of habit. We enjoy sticking to a routine because it creates a sense of security for us. In our minds, habits and routines reduce the chances for us to make mistakes and feel uncomfortable. When it comes to athletics, however, simple and traditional habits can become problematic. Athletes that perform at a high level face constant adversity, and must be able to adapt to it. Rather than tying ourselves to safe habits, it’s important to regularly prepare for the challenge of competition by pushing ourselves. As a former college athlete and current coach for future generations of college athletes, I’ve found that forming more demanding habits is what athletes need in order to succeed at a higher level.

5 habits to help college athletes find success

  1. Create Achievable Goals
    Too many athletes overlook the little things. I often ask my players what they want to achieve in football, and many of them respond with, “I want to play in the NFL.” Having lofty goals isn’t a bad thing, but there are countless small tasks to complete in order to reach them. When considering your big picture goals, it’s important to ask yourself these questions: how are you going to get there? What is your training regime? How much do you study the game? How much film do you watch to prepare? Are you asking the right questions during meetings/practice? What is your current role, and how are you going to expand upon it? I don’t ever tell a player their goal is impossible, but I do shed light on how difficult they are to achieve. It’s those who have an organized plan, a set of achievable goals, and habits that promote growth who typically find the highest level of success.
  2. Self Evaluation
    Those who make it to the collegiate ranks have been elite competitors for a long time, and complacency can occasionally take over. With that in mind, it is key to regularly check yourself. Evaluate your performance and training to make sure that you are staying on track for your goals. Part of being an elite competitor is having a high level of confidence, but you can’t let that confidence turn into an ego. Remember where you started, the work it took to get where you are now, and where you want to get. Make regular self evaluation one of your habits, and be honest with yourself to find true value in it.
  3. Take Mental Reps
    Mental reps are equally as valuable as physical reps. If you are only counting on physical reps to get better, then you are missing out. You may only get 3-5 physical reps at a given drill before you move onto the next at practice. If your habits include watching teammate’s reps, and evaluating and learning from them, you can increase your development much more rapidly. Sharpening your mental game along with your physical skills in practice is what will set you apart as a competitor.
  4. Become a Leader
    Whether you can become the team captain or even be in charge of a position group, learn to become a leader. Leadership isn’t always about directing others on how or what to do. Be the energy that keeps your teammates engaged. Be an example of how to act when no one is watching. Be the person that keeps your teammates focused. Assuming leadership will force you to stay accountable for the work you put in, and create the opportunity to help your team build habits similar to yours.
  5. Put in the Extra Work
    If great success is what you desire in athletics, you will need to put in extra work. Watch more film and take extra reps in practice. Be the first one in and the last one out. Pick your coach’s brain, take the offseason seriously for your development, and do whatever it takes to get where you want to be.

Forcing yourself to remain accountable for your actions and attitude, and setting the standard for yourself and your team are key habits for college athletes to practice. Challenge yourself to be better every day by dominating your routine. This will lead to continuous growth and success!


winning habits for college athletes

Michael Mosser is a five-star football coach in the Knoxville, TN area. Check out his profile here and book a session with him today!

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