A Balancing Act: Life of a Student-Athlete
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“It’s important to find balance.” I don’t know how many times I heard that when I was a student-athlete. It’s already a balancing act when you are playing a sport every single day while going to school, however in order to find joy and success in both, there are some strategies that can help.
It took me awhile to feel like I had a hang of doing both. I always felt like when I was doing great at one, the other would suffer. In high school I had my routine down, but when I got to college and I was playing a Division 1 sport, I was suddenly tasked with being at a university to perform athletically. My freshman year I felt like every single day I was on a hamster wheel; sprinting from 6 AM lift to 8 AM class to 10 AM practice and so fourth. My the time sophomore year cam around, I had adapted and figured out some tips and tricks to find balance and peace throughout all of the chaos and responsibilities.
Here are 6 strategies to help student-athletes find balance.
Create a plan. This could be a basic scribble in your notebook or a well designed excel spreadsheet. There’s no right or wrong way to build out your plan, but the piece of advice I would suggest is mapping out your goals and pathway both as a student and as an athlete. Start with where you are.
If you’re a freshman majoring in communications, map out what the next semester looks like in terms of what classes you need to take, what projects you may need to complete, and any additional electives you may add to your plate.
If you’re a freshman on a soccer team, map out what your season schedule looks like. If you know you have practices in the morning every single day, maybe try and work with your school to go to classes in the afternoon. By mapping out your practice and game schedule, you’ll be able to figure out how much travel will be required and where the gaps in your day are.
Stay grounded by your why. As a student-athlete one great place to start is why you decided to go the route of becoming a student-athlete in the first place. Most student-athletes decide to continue playing a sport and going to school because they have goals that they set at one point. Don’t lose sight of what those are. Your why will carry you through hard seasons and difficult academic semesters.
Time management. Time really plays an important role in a student-athletes life. Most days are packed to the rim with sport and academic commitments, which means the downtime is treasured. If you find yourself using your downtime in an unproductive way that doesn’t help you reach your school requirements and goals nor your athletic ones, it’s time to revaluate. Social media is a huge tool for student-athletes these days, but also a major distraction. Limit your scrolling time and if you do decide to dive into a social media kick throughout the day, try and see how it can better enhance your athletic and academic goals.
Fuel up! Believe it or not, food is fuel and properly feeding yourself will help with your productivity and success both off and on the court. You’ll be able to crush your academic goals as well as athletic goals if you are taking care of your body. A strong mind = a strong body and a lot of that starts with properly fueling your body throughout the day.
Hydration is key. Just like eating plays a pivotal role in a student-athletes success, it’s important not to forget about hydrating as well. For athletes exercising 60-minutes or more, research has shown that drinking a sports drink like Gatorade provides benefits over water. Factors to consider during exercise are duration, intensity, and environmental elements such as heat or humidity. For athletes who are doing shorter or lower intensity exercise, hydration is still essential but they may not need or want carbohydrate energy.
[Read More: Sports Hydration: How Do You Hydrate Correctly?]
Self-care. Prioritize taking care of yourself in whatever way feels good to YOU. This looks differently to everyone, so figure out what gives you joy and also allows you to reset during the day.