3 Tips for Balancing Life as a Student-Athlete

Last updated on November 15, 2017

College is a huge adjustment for any young student. For many, this is their first time away from home, first time on their own, and first big step into “true” adulthood. This can be a very daunting life step.

Trying to manage classes, tests, quizzes, labs, all-night study sessions, and college dorm life all at once can be a real lesson in time management in and of itself.

But, when we throw in a sport, things get even more complicated. Student athletes are a breed of their own.

Life as a student-athlete takes an amount of discipline, determination, and responsibility that many outsiders fail to really recognize at times. As a student-athlete at the collegiate level, be it Division I or Division III, you are going to encounter difficulties with maintaining a healthy life balance.

Use these three tips to help balance your life as a student-athlete and stay afloat in the college world.

Communicate with Professors Beforehand

It is essential that you keep your professors in the loop about your situation. Provide them with your athletic schedule, so that they can see ahead of time the days you will be missing at the start of the semester.

One of the biggest mistakes an athlete can make is failing to really communicate with his or her professors. Many professors are flexible and understanding with school-sponsored absences and will work with you to help you succeed. Keep them well-informed on your practice and competition schedules. This will not be the first time that they have had a student participating in a sport. They likely have some sort of protocol for their student athletes.

Utilize their help and guidance when you can.

If they understand more clearly what you have going on outside of the classroom, they will have a better perspective for understanding what is going on within their classroom. It can also be a very good idea to provide your professors with your coach’s information or with your coach directly. Your coach can act as an advocate for you if difficult scheduling challenges occur.

Keep a Weekly Schedule

Prioritization is key for the student athlete. Just as you did in high school, you have to determine what tasks are most vital at that time. Create a weekly schedule to keep yourself on careful track with your training and academics.

Of course, school comes first. But you should find a way to organize things so that you can focus your weeks appropriately.

While this does require a significant time commitment, creating a new schedule each week can be a lifesaver for the busy student athlete. Look at upcoming assignments, projects, and tests, and prioritize your time carefully.

Really, becoming a successful student-athlete boils down to careful organization and time management.

Plan your weekly schedule down to the hour. Pencil in your practice time, meals, study sessions, classes—anything you can think of. Sticking to this careful schedule can help keep you on track and give you a sense of security when things become overwhelming.

While it may sound silly to write down your 3 p.m. nap break, it’s worth it.

Pencil in Your Down Time

One of the most important things a collegiate athlete can do for both their athletics and their academics is sleep. Resting is something that many college students place at the bottom of their priority list. While this is understandable, with tests and parties, classes, and projects, it’s just not practical.

As a student-athlete, you need your rest in order to function your best on the field, in the pool, on the court, and in the classroom. Plan out your rest schedule. While resting includes sleeping, this also means simply some much-needed down time.

Student athletes are under a huge amount of pressure to succeed in their sport and within the classroom. Things can easily become overwhelming.

Schedule time aside where you can relax and rest your mind and body. Time to refuel can make all the difference on that important test in your chemistry class and shave seconds off your time in your 200-yard freestyle at the next meet.