When I think back to preseason at Charleston Southern University, it brings a smile to my face. It was the only time in my life that my responsibilities consisted of eating, playing volleyball, eating more food, and sleeping – literally y in that order. As a team, we completed drills outside on the track. In South Carolina, it didn’t take much before you were drenched in sweat. It’s quite comical, but I miss running team drills until we got it right, mandatory ice baths, and lying in bed after each practice because I’ve never felt so sore in my entire life. Those were the good old days. Lucky for my student athletes, I’ve compiled a list of items that will help you prepare for preseason.

The week before, don’t overdo your workouts

The week before preseason starts, don’t over prepare by adding extra reps or miles. You can scale back on reps and take it easy, but not too easy! If you followed your summer conditioning workout, you should be more than prepared for whatever your coaches throw at you. In the end, it is all mental.

Work on your mental game

Mentally prepare yourself not only for preseason, but the season ahead. Set goals for the year, whether it is to increase your vertical, free-throw percentage, or become a starter this year. Visualize yourself accomplishing your goals to increase the odds of becoming successful. My coach used the mantra of the 5 Ps, “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.”

Pack extra everything!

During preseason, you might practice 3 or 4 times daily, therefore pack extra athletic clothing and gear (pre wrap, tape, etc.), food, and sports drinks. I would always pack extra t-shirts and socks because there was minimal time for me to rest and I didn’t want to haul my dirty clothes to the laundry every night. I felt my time was better spent sleeping or lounging in one of my teammates’ dorm rooms.

Eat all the pizza you want (just kidding)

I recommend packing snacks and eating foods that help replenish your fatigued body. As an athlete, during preseason and regular season, I was hungry 24/7. I was burning so many calories a day that I needed to eat to help maintain my performance level. I couldn’t survive without apples, bananas, chicken, rice, and good old cafeteria cereal. While I was in Charleston, certain teammates (who shall remain nameless) would always recruit 4 or 5 of us to go to Sonic after we got back from the cafeteria. We didn’t all have cars on campus, so when someone went out to eat, it was common for us to pile in someone’s car like sardines and then complain about being hungry until we ordered our food. Also, remember to hydrate during and after workouts. It is crucial to consume lots of fluids, otherwise, it can affect your performance.

Catch some Zzzz

Sleep is one of the most important things for your performance and recovery. Before I went to college, I rarely took naps. However, during preseason, naps were welcomed when I was running on fumes after practice.

Have fun

For all my freshmen athletes, just have fun, stay positive, and roll with the punches. It is okay to be nerves or have that feeling of uncertainty. Trust me, as a freshman in college, I was nervous the days leading up to preseason. I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t know my teammates well enough beforehand to ask questions. I just showed up ready for whatever was going to happen next. I’m uber competitive, so I was ready to roll with the big dogs and give them a run for their money. Preseason is your chance to get to know your teammates and coaches. Of course, you’ll be the newbie so prepare yourself for all the jokes your teammates will throw at you. In the end, everyone is there to develop themselves as athletes.