Let me ask are you a high school football player who wants to play at the collegiate level? One of the biggest things that we hear college coaches talk about is that they are looking for players who have the right attitude, the right character and mental toughness to step up and succeed in all aspects of college. These coaches want players who are physically, mentally, emotionally as well as spiritually strong. They want players who have their act in order when it comes to their sport, their studies and how they carry themselves in life. Coaches are not only interested in your successes and statistics. They are just as interested in how you handle various challenges and difficulties as an athlete and student. So ask yourself these few questions. When you make a mistake in a game, do you lower your head, kick the ground, argue with your coach and then commit another mistake within several minutes? If your team is behind on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter by two touchdowns, do you start slowing down, step back, stop putting forth your best effort and just watch the game as a spectator? As a football player from the other team begins trash talking and calling you names, do you start talking back, get angry and frustrated, and then miss your block on the next play? On the other hand, how do you handle yourself when you are having a bad game but one of your teammates is having his best game? Do you go up to him and say congrats? Or are you worried more about how you look on the field, isolate yourself from your team and get upset that you are not doing as well as one of your teammates? Or, as one of your teammates is really struggling in a game, do you think to yourself that at least you are having a good game and only worry about yourself? Or do you take the time to go up to your teammate and offer your encouragement and support? College coaches are truly looking for players who can be leaders on and off the field. And it’s not only about who has the most touchdowns, interceptions or points on the scoreboard. They want players who can fill the many different roles a team has to excel and succeed. They want players who understand and are committed to their mental game. A game that includes believing in oneself and the greater good. A game that requires you to focus on what you want to accomplish and achieve. A game that sees you play with purpose, poise, passion and perseverance. So, if you want to become a better football player, then you need to assess your mental skills and identify areas of your mental game that you need to work on every day. Are you not or are you having difficulty visualizing how you want to play? Do you always get upset when you make a mistake and then tell yourself that you are not learning anything? Do you find yourself always getting upset about things that you have no control over? Are you giving up on yourself and your team when you are behind on the scoreboard? Do you forget to identify your goals or take some time to work on those goals. If you are a high school football player who wants to play football in college, then you need to start building your mental muscle. For all the time you are spending in the weight room or running on the track, you need to be putting in the necessary time and effort to develop a stronger and sharper mind if you want to cut it in college. With the “Play Up” approach, you will be mentally prepared and ready to play with greater concentration, composure and confidence, and ultimately become a more competitive player. Isn’t that what you want the college coaches to see?