School bells all across the country are ringing, signaling another school year and the beginning of another fall sports season. As student-athletes start the new year, it is easy for them to worry about how they will manage good grades while also performing to their ability in their sport. Whether they are a senior going through the college application process, a freshman getting ready to play on their very first varsity level team or a middle school athlete excited to try a new sport, the worry is the same for all of them. As an athlete who has been there, done that, I know the stress and competing variables that occur when trying to be at your best both athletically and academically.
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!
Here are five tips to help you manage your busy life as a student-athlete:
Find balance between school and sports. I am sure you have heard this a lot, that all you need to do is find balance between school and sports. What you don’t often hear is how to find balance. The first thing you need to do is get and stay organized. Having a calendar with all of your homework and project due dates for school and all of your practices and games for your sport will help keep you from feeling overwhelmed with too much to do. You will know exactly what you have to do and when you have to do it.
After you organize, then it is important to recognize free time to help manage all of your tasks. For example, long distance travel to games can be used as a studying opportunity or a chance to finish the final edits on that social studies essay. This will help take away the weight of having homework to finish while you are trying to focus on your competition!
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!
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.
Know when it is ok to take time for yourself. One of the challenging things to grasp as a successful student-athlete is knowing when it’s ok to take a break. It is hard to recognize your own needs when you are constantly running to school, practices or games and then back home to study and do homework. However, it is very important to take time to do what you want! Whether that is taking advantage of a weekend free of games and spending it at the park with your buddies or just taking an hour to yourself at night to catch up on your favorite TV. show. It’s ok to step away from being a student-athlete. It will help take away the risk of burn out or feeling as though you are stuck doing a job instead of doing what you are passion about.
Being a student-athlete is FUN so take the time to try these three tips to help keep stress at bay!
-An SI Play Athlete