Francesca Zepeda

View From The Sidelines: 4 Things You Need To Know Before Dating An Athlete

After three years of dating a pitcher, I've become a professional at sitting by the sidelines of a baseball field. My boyfriend introduced me to a world in which I had previously been foreign to: the mysterious world of sports.

My physically uncoordinated, clumsy self struggled with understanding the hype of baseball season and the reasoning behind long hours of practice. Through this time period, I transformed into an expert in sports jargon.

For every game, I sat behind the high fences guarding me from the 90-mile-per-hour fastball that could possibly come my way. I anxiously played with my hair to pass the time and constantly checked the scoreboard. Without even knowing it, I evolved into an avid sports spectator.

If you're going through the same transition and find yourself experiencing the struggles of having to plan your life around a sport you're not even playing, then here are some wise words to help you through your endeavor:

1. Ball is life.

These athletes (also known as our significant others) have been bred into the world of sports. For the first two years of their lives, they were probably exposed to more outdoor activities than hours of TV.

They grew into mentally and physically healthy individuals who knew the concept of dedication before the age of 10. In the years to follow, our favorite athletes were training themselves to eat, breathe and dream their sport.

These hours of focus on athletics and adrenaline affected their young minds. It's safe to say that, for them, “ball” truly became the meaning life.

In case you needed anymore proof, my boyfriend’s first word was “ball.” “Ball” becomes part of the package deal, and that is something anyone must accept if he or she is going to date an athlete.

2. Communication is key.

A simple phone call can brighten your loved one’s day. A quick call between classes, before and after practice or even before he or she goes to sleep can immediately make your SO smile.

Try to keep the passion alive within those two minutes of conversation as you both go on with your day. And once you escape from the chaos, absorb every second you have with him or her before the moment passes.

Communication is vital to any relationship, but when dating an athlete, it's the life source allowing your relationship to thrive. On top of the standard stresses in life, our lovers are under additional pressure that comes in tandem with playing a sport.

The most meaningful words you can tell them are, “I believe in you.” This may not mean much to you, but it will give them the push they need to run that extra mile or throw that ball a little harder.

3. Each season is challenging.

For 14 (or more) weeks, our beloveds are busy with long practices, back-to-back games and late nights full of studying. This is the dreadful, yet exciting time we call “season.”

"Season" is what they prepare for for months in advance. It's the climax of our athletes annual play, and it's the most challenging time of the year.

It's the prime time for them to show off everything they have in their muscles and bones. With each stride, pass, throw or kick, they must shine above all the others on their team.

Along with the fun of it all, there’s the stress of having to try to balance each season with the rest of their lives. Whether it's football, basketball, baseball, soccer or any other sport, there's a major element of commitment.

This is a huge plus for us. The commitment to their preferred sport reflects how equally committed they will be to their relationships.

4. Support is everything.

Support comes in many forms, and it must be present on both sides of a relationship. A hug, a kiss, a “good luck” text or even a certain look can go a long way.

You can even try learning some of their sports jargon, like “curveball" and "run-down," if you're like me and are in cahoots with a baseball player. This will make them feel appreciated, and it will let them know how much you're interested in something that means the world to them. Your simple efforts create a shoulder for them to lean on.

And you can make the weight on their shoulders feel a little lighter by expressing how much you care. Emotional and physical support inspires your athlete to move forward in his or her sport and in your relationship. Be your SO's reliable source of strength.

If you want to grow with your athlete, then learn to accept him or her completely. A true support system will always be the backbone of your relationship.

As you sit by the sidelines, remember that your efforts are not going unnoticed. Every move your athlete makes on the field is coming from the strength you give him or her.

Yes, your relationship with an athlete goes through different hardships than others may go through, but this takes your love for one another to a whole new level. As long as you believe in your athlete (and more importantly, yourself), your relationship will be a home run.