College Athlete Gift Guide

gifts for college athlete

Being a college athlete has plenty of benefits, but it’s also physically and mentally stressful. Not only do you have the weight of academics while transitioning into adulthood without an income, but you then have the demands of training and higher nutrient needs, too. This college athlete gift guide will ensure you get your athlete useful items to take back to school.

Cooking & Dining

Slow Cooker

Your athlete doesn’t need to know a thing about cooking to use acrockpot. Dump in ingredients and wake up to oatmeal that they can eat each morning for the week. Or, they can come back after class and practice to chili that you can eat for a couple of days and freeze the rest for when they need to heat up a quick dinner next month. These can even work in the dorm room!

Instant Pot

If you know your athlete isn’t one to plan ahead, even if it’s as easy as dumping ingredients into the slow cooker, an instant pot can help them get dinner together in 30 minutes while providing plenty of leftovers. There’s plenty of fancy options on the market, but this Instant Pot brand model is high quality and does what they need at a good price (I’m talking $50 for their black Friday sale!)

Air Fryer

Air fryers are the hottest new kitchen item, and for good reason. Your athlete can quickly and easily get the taste and texture they crave in proteins, starches and veggies without turning on the stove. And without the saturated fat that is helpful to limit in their diets (though fat is still a very important nutrient that they eat enough of). 

Bullet Blender

Energy needs are high and there’s almost always a time crunch. Plus, sometimes appetite doesn’t match energy needs with everything else there is to focus on. Smoothies can ensure adequate energy, protein and produce intake. I had a magic bulletthat lasted me through college, grad school, and even a few years of my adult life! No need for the more expensive fancy gadgets for the average athlete who just needs a smoothie. 

Freezable Lunchbox

When athletes are living in apartments, they may not have a campus meal plan. Even if they do, sometimes hours don’t mesh with their schedules. On top of that, their energy demands are so high, they should really be having more than “snacks” between meals and need mini-meals available. Most college athletes aren’t thinking about food safety even when they’re thinking about packing food, so this lunch bagmakes that all easier. They just need to store it in their freezer and there’s no ice pack needed!

Muscle and Joint Support

Mini-foam roller 

Where were these when I was a college athlete? Not in the UConn strength rooms and definitely not in my dorm. The half sizes can fit just about anywhere though so you can roll out your aches and knots when you’re finally relaxing in front of the tv. I’m sure my hip health would be so much better now if I was using foam rollers back in the day! Full body massages aren’t on most athletes schedules during a busy semester, so this is the next best option. 

The Stick

Now these we did have in the training room, but in hind-sight, I needed my own. The stick gets those places that are really bugging you with more intensity and attention than the foam roller. You may have to recruit your roommate to help you reach that awkward place under your scapula, but it’s also great if you’re prone to plantar-fasciitis pain. Just don’t roll it right over bones.

Arnica Gel 

This homeopathic remedy for muscle soreness and bruising is a favorite of mine. It has research backing it for pain relief, and in my personal experience is effective, too. Better though, it doesn’t leave you sticky, burning and smelling strongly of mint. Note: if you start bruising really easily, it may be a sign of iron deficiency anemia. Keep iron intake up! 

Lumbar Support Pillow

I know for some of you it may feel like you’re going to school to be an athlete and not a student, but that attitude can catch up to you really quickly. You’re going to be not only sore, but fatigued from an intense training schedule, so slouching when you study will be even more likely. This pressure influences your posture, potentially activating sciatica pain at your young age, impairing training and performance. It can also cause imbalances in shoulder strength that throw off your strength, too. It’s also worth noting that sitting up straighter may keep you more alert!

Travel Needs

Not Your Average Neck Pillow

I know from personal experience that all they want to do is nap on those long bus (or plane) rides. And standard neck pillows really don’t cut it if you want to wakeup without a sore neck and upper back. I recently received one of these in a gift bag from a client and was both excited and amazed! This neck “pillow” is less of a pillow and more of a comfortable support so your head can relax in a comfortable position while you’re sitting up.

Sleep Mask


This organic bamboo sleep mask is made with cooling breathable material, but really keeps the light out, too. Great for bus rides or even an afternoon nap!



While I actually recommend probiotics to any of my collegiate and professional athletes, they’re even more important when dealing with the stress of travel. It’s important to choose supplements that are of high quality, NSF certified for sport, and that contain multiple bacterial strains. I trust and recommend Thorne probiotics for athletes above all other NSF products.

Fun & Relaxation

Sonos Speakers

We love these speakers that my sister-in-law got us one year… and one is likely enough for a college apartment. There’s great sound quality, but you can hook them up to your smart TV and multiple cell phones. It’s perfect when playing music from the smart TV or from your athlete’s phone or any of their roomate’s.

Lavender Essential Oil Roll-On

This is a perfect stocking stuffer for your athlete to keep next to their bed. Despite all on their plate that leads to exhaustion, it’s easy for anxiety to run high making it harder to fall asleep. relaxing lavender is perfect to roll onto their temples and wrists to aid in relaxation. Throw some chamomile lavender tea in the stocking, too!

College Themed Cornhole

uconn cornhole

Even high level achievers need to make some time for fun. A school-themed corn hole game can help anyone destress and get their mind off of school and sports for a little while!

Recommendations for Athletes by an Athlete

As a former college athlete myself who still works with NCAA athletes and understands their modern needs, you can feel confident in these recommendations! After selecting a few items for the holidays, save this college athlete gift guide for birthdays, too.

Any items I missed? Share in the comments!

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