Being a student athlete can be an amazing opportunity, and fun experience. You receive free clothes, you travel with all of your teammates to competitions and games, your body stays in good shape and there’s a possibility of earning a partial or full scholarship in college. In addition to all of those benefits, it teaches you discipline skills, time management, leadership experience, and working as part of a team: all great ways to improve one’s character. Overall, most student athletes play a sport because they enjoy it, without even realizing it’s value in the long run.
Although all of those benefits are great, a student athlete is usually faced with a lot of stress. Time management is critical; trying to keep up with AP classes and assignments, while putting in two hours of practice every night and sometimes even longer, depending on if they have a game, is difficult. Not only do they stress about getting things completed for school in a limited amount of time, the coaches keep track of how successful they are in the classroom as well, which puts pressure on the athletes to prioritize.
It would seem that athletes either settle for mediocrity in their sport to focus in the classroom, or they settle for mediocrity in school and focus on their sport. However, it is possible to be both a successful student and a successful athlete with some drive and these essential guidelines.
Set goals. Ask yourself what you want to achieve, both in your sport and in school. Everyone has standard goals, like “get better in my sport”- of course if you play a sport, you want to get better. When you set a goal for yourself make it legitimate and something you have to work hard to accomplish. A goal that is at a farther reach will make you more determined to reach it.
Plan. In order to meet your goals, you have to make a schedule for yourself and follow it accordingly. A weekly plan is the best way to go, such as working out on Mondays and taking a break on Saturdays. It’s a great way to keep yourself from getting sidetracked with other plans.
Sleep. Having a good sleep schedule and getting a healthy amount of sleep is indescribably important because of all of the energy school and sports burns. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that the average 15-18-year old needs 7-9 hours’ sleep each night. Presumably, with all the activity, a high school athlete would be toward the higher end of that. The effects of too little sleep are countless, and undoubtedly affect both your sport and performance in the classroom.
Meals. High school is infamous for unhealthy eating habits, and it takes a lot of planning and effort to make sure you have a healthy diet. There are many websites that have some sort of resource for helping students make the best choices when it comes to their diet, so make sure you search around and take advantage of them. Making dinners in advance, sharing meals with the team, and taking the time to find good deals at grocery stores are all ways to stay healthy on a budget.
Long classes and hard training can wear you down to the point where you don’t want to put in the effort anymore. It will happen, and you need to plan for it! The best way to handle these moments is to find a way to focus on your goals. Even though there are many struggles when it comes to being a student athlete, it is an awesome opportunity and it will equip you with discipline, time-management, and leadership skills.