For student athletes, balancing school & sports can be a struggle. As the school bells ring to start another academic year and whistles shrill to start another sports season, how does the student athlete manage to achieve good grades and retain optimal performance on the playing field?
Balancing School & Sports This Fall Season
According to a study by Ohio University, 31 % of students in the United States feel overwhelmed by stress, for a variety of factors, the main one being school, with other factors including homework and sports. Luckily, being a student-athlete doesn’t have to mean all stress all the time. There are a lot of things you can do to help take away stress to leave room for success and most importantly, fun!
Prioritize, Organize and Plan Your Week While Balancing School & Sports
Every week will come with its own homework deadlines, quizzes and tests to study for, as well as work, training and practice schedules. Then there is spending time with family, hanging with friends and keeping up with chores around the house to factor in, too. With so much to juggle, things can quickly become overwhelming. This means that kids must:
- Prioritize their daily and weekly tasks.
- Organize the supplies they need for each day.
- Plan and schedule their week in blocks of time.
- Schedule time to sleep in, hang out with friends and just have fun.
Use the resources around you
This tip is very important. It is what helped me the most when I was a student-athlete. Athletes, especially young athletes, feel like they have to balance school and sports alone. This is so far from true. Coaches, and teammates, teachers, school staff members and friends are all available to help you! They want to see you succeed both athletically and academically just as much, if not more than you do. If you have a friend and teammate who is really excelling in math but you feel like you are falling behind, ask for them to help you before practice! If you feel like you aren’t performing to your best ability, ask your coach to spend a little extra time during or after practice with you. There are so many people cheering you on but they don’t know when you need help, so you can’t be afraid to ask!
Commit to Your Athletic Training, but Don’t Overcommit
While there is no way around the in-season practice and game schedule, athletes need to lighten the rest of their load during their peak training season. This could include any combination of cutting back hours at work, signing up for fewer extracurricular activities and intentionally scheduling in some time each week to relax. It might also be a good time to cut back on cross training. This is, of course easier said than done, so parents may need to intervene to help students prioritize where to trim back on.
Don’t be afraid to lean on your coach
Although you might think that your coach wants you to be 100% focused on your sport all the time, they really want to see you achieve as both an athlete and a student. A lot of coaches recognize the correlation between succeeding academically and preforming well athletically. Coaches are great resources to guide you and to help teach you lessons that apply to your sport and life. Never be afraid to ask your coach for help. Whether that be asking for extra help on a skill, asking for a day off to catch up on your school work, or simply asking for advice, they will work with you to help you grow and succeed.
Establish Good Homework Habits, Including Study Halls
If your student’s schedule permits, encourage him to work in a study hall. Many schools have a reduced PE requirement for athletes, which may free up a class period. Student athletes can use this time to stay a step ahead of their homework to allow more time after school for sports and socializing. Study groups can be helpful, and some coaches may even be willing to schedule team study time before major exams or group assignments.
Do NOT Procrastinate
Do assignments as soon as they are given, rather than waiting until the last minute. Assuredly, poor planning and waiting until the last minute will result in missed practices or missed games.
We all want our kids to succeed in school and sports, and striking the right balance is possible with teamwork and dedication – in the classroom, on the field and at home.
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