It's tougher than you may think playing high school athletics as well as a junior college and at higher institutions as well, in part because the size of the competition gets smaller and tougher as you move up.

You know in high school that all eyes are watching how you play and how your team plays -- be it coaches, parents, fans, scouts, college coaches and recruiters, etc. -- and if you plan on playing at the next level, you have to be at your best and perform as such to at least get a chance to try out and play at the next level.

Freehold Township sophomore Cassidy Corcione. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
Freehold Township sophomore Cassidy Corcione. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
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It can be a tough balance as a student-athlete and it gets more challenging and stressful when you're struggling or in a slump or the team isn't doing well.

There are many methods to battle through the mental and emotional parts of being a young athlete to help you come out on the other side and find success.

It starts with preparation.

"The first thing I would suggest is reflection, really thinking about your last season or your last year, trying to think about what you did well, maybe what you didn't do so well, and really trying to get a handle on 'okay, what do I need to do differently for the year to come?' and then I think on the tail of that is once you have a handle on 'what do I want to get better at for this coming year' is really setting some goals for yourself, which I think is pretty common for most people," Michael Huber, Mental Performance Coach, who has an office in Fair Haven, tells Townsquare Media on 'Shore Time with Vin and Dave' on 94.3 The Point and 105.7 The Hawk on Sunday. "The way I would set goals with an athlete is very different than someone just writes something on a board and says 'I want to be all county this year' -- really think about how you're going to do that, what are the things that you can control process oriented -- day to day -- that are going to help you increase your chances of being successful and achieving that goal during the season."

Red Bank Catholic senior Matt Scrivanic connects on his go-ahead home run in the Shore Conference final. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
Red Bank Catholic senior Matt Scrivanic connects on his go-ahead home run in the Shore Conference final. (Photo: Tom Smith | tspsportsimages.com)
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If you are going into your senior year of high school or college and you know that this is your last year to prove yourself or to just go out on top, there are also some key ways to ensure that you're mentally sharp and ready for the season ahead.

"What I always try to work on with athletes, and it sounds so cliché and so common for people to say this, is to really focus on what you can control, right, there's so many things that you can't control -- coaches choices is one of them, right, so, just take that example -- if you're an athlete, you want to start your senior year and you haven't started before and you don't really understand really what you need to do to get to where you want to go -- I talk to athletes about having conversations with their coaches, how can you have a conversation with a coach who's going to make the decision he's going to make and say 'hey, what can I do better? what do I need to do to get to this place?' rather than just waiting for someone to call your number," Huber said.

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Whether you're a senior or not, and you want to start, there are the right ways of approaching this topic as well with your coach and with yourself.

"The word that I often use with athletes is value, just because you're not starting doesn't mean you're not valuable, right, the value can come on the sidelines as being a supporter of practice player or supporter of a teammate or when you get your opportunity, going out there with the mindset of 'hey, I just want to help the team' -- a lot of this stuff is very cliché, but again, when you're a 16, 17, 18-year old athlete and you're standing on the sidelines and you're not getting to do what you want to do, it's very easy to get into your own head and say 'what's wrong with me' or you get these feelings -- just being ready for that opportunity," Huber said. "That's, a lot of times, where I come in with athletes to say 'how can you focus on -- okay, are you good at this? Let's focus on strengths, what do you do well, how can you bring that out even more' versus a lot of times there's the inclination to fix things 'what am I doing wrong' -- sometimes you're not doing anything wrong, sometimes you're just the 12th best player on an 11-man team or you're the 6th guy on a basketball team -- that doesn't mean you can't play college sports. If you're in a really good program, the kids who are batting at the bottom of the lineup or subs in some cases in certain sports, are still getting recruited because of the strength of the program."

09/17/2021 - Jackson Memorial / Middletown South
Richard O'Donnell
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You can listen to the full interview conversation with Michael Huber and learn more, right here.

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