Joining a team as a walk-on can be a daunting proposition for college athletes. If you’re lucky enough to make tryouts, you’ll have to contend with a lot of intra-team competition, and walk-ons may face some scrutiny that recruited players don’t. 

Of course, there’s a lot expected of recruits. The coaching staff that recruited them are eager to see that their assessments will be proven correct. 

In this respect, they are somewhat more invested in seeing those players perform well and contribute to a team’s success than the players who they didn’t handpick. 

To prove your mettle, make the team, and get playing time once you’ve got there, you’ll have your work cut out for you. 

Here are some key considerations about joining your college’s team as a walk-on.

Your Academics Need to Come First

The experience that you get on the field is going to have an end date once you graduate, but the degree that you take with you and the knowledge that you acquire will come to have an important role in how you structure your future. 

Of course, your playing experience is valuable and can impart important life lessons. Nevertheless, you have to prioritize your academics because that’s the most important part of being at school. 

You’re preparing yourself for getting a job and finding fulfillment in your professional career. In a way, you’re betting on yourself by investing in your education. 

By taking out student loans and devoting hundreds of hours of your time to an academic discipline, you’re investing in your future. 

Maximizing the utility of your time in school necessitates methodical approaches to mastering the course curriculum and developing practical skills that will serve you well in your professional life.  

You Must Take Care to Avoid Overextending Yourself

Balancing academics and sports are challenging. Even with a strong support network for studying and coping with any learning obstacles that you may have, dividing your attention between two equally challenging endeavors can leave you feeling frayed. 

Good time management strategies can help student-athletes meet all of their obligations without letting their performance becomes compromised. 

To make the most out of your time at school and manage your time well, create a schedule that divides your time strategically in the blocks between the time commitments when you absolutely have to be somewhere such as class or practice. 

While it’s possible to maintain part-time employment as a student-athlete, you have to be careful about taking on too many hours. 

For the most part, if you are going to work, you should try to focus primarily on employment opportunities or paid internships that have a connection to your current course of study rather than unrelated gig-type work. 

Of course, flexibility with hours may be key in being able to squeeze in time for some work. You’ll need to strike a healthy balance that doesn’t cause you to miss out on rest or set you up for undue stress.

You Need to Prioritize Self Care

You need to have realistic expectations about your physical capabilities and your mental energy. Trying to keep up school and your work on the team at a sprinting pace can lead to burnout and might diminish your performance considerably. 

Be sure that you are giving yourself suitable time for essential parts of good self-care such as rest as well as getting any necessary medical care.


If you have goals to continue playing after college, starting as a walk-on should not influence your resolve. 

A strong determination to excel on the playing field can make you a great player and the experience that you gain in college can make it possible to continue playing the game that you're passionate about.


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