Back to School: Tips for Balancing Sports and Academics

It’s that time of year again.  The fun, care-free days of summer are drawing to a close which means one thing: back to school is upon us!  This time of year is stressful for everyone in the family, but for student athletes, back-to-school can be especially challenging as they face the realities of balancing a new academic year with their athletic commitments.   Finding a way to balance work and life is challenging at all ages, but for student athletes this balance can be extra difficult as they navigate juggling classwork, homework, practice sessions, games, and their social life.

No matter what level your athlete may be at—be it junior high up to collegiate—the key to finding some semblance of sanity is balance and a commitment to the various goals they want to achieve in all areas.  Below is a sort of starting point to consider as you and your family dive into the 2017-2018 school year and all it may bring.

Prioritize and Plan Ahead

One of the simplest but most effective ways to keep everyone on track is planning ahead.  At the beginning of each month, sit down with a calendar and map out everything that you can—practice times, game dates, project deadlines, and so on.  As new important dates pop up, be sure to keep the calendar updated.  This simple starting point can work wonders as things start to pile up.  If there’s a week that you know is especially busy, be sure to plan meals ahead of time so you don’t find yourself at a loss for what to do for dinner (check back in 2 weeks for some great easy meal ideas we’ll be sharing).  If there’s a day—and there will be many—where there are conflicting events, prioritize what’s most important and understand that balancing these commitments will inevitably mean having to make sacrifices.  Which brings us to…

Don’t Overbook

Back to school is a crazy time.  For most families it takes at least a month to settle back into the routine after summer break’s freedom.  Don’t be afraid to admit you can’t do something.  And when scheduling, be sure to plan for catching your breath and having some down time where you can. That one free Saturday you’ve been looking forward to for a month?  Keep it open! It’s okay to turn down an invite, whether from family or friends, to take the rare breather.  The same goes for your student athlete.  Make sure they give themselves time to play video games, read a book, binge Netflix, whatever they prefer, every once in a while.  The school year isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.  Taking time to catch your breath and pacing yourself is key to surviving the whole year, not just the first month or two.

Ask for Help

This is crucial for student athletes.  Success in both the academic and athletic arenas depends on being able to see where they’re struggling and find help accordingly.  Staying ahead of the problem is key.  Does the timing of a game mean they’ll be missing a certain class?  Talking to the teacher ahead of time, rather than getting the makeup work after, can make a tremendous difference in how far they fall behind.

Attitude is Everything

Finally, as silly as this may sound, attitude is everything.  Don’t look at the sports schedule as work; focus on why it’s important and what they enjoy about it.  Similarly, encourage student athletes to view their schooling as an equally valuable endeavor.  Sports and school both have tremendous value in life, and neither should be seen as at odds with the other.  Ultimately, school is the real “job” and sports are the secondary passion.  For most athletes, grades are considered for their eligibility.  School prepares them for their adult career and future.  Their education is their full-time pursuit. Encourage them to see school as the valuable opportunity that it is and sports as the passion that compliments their academic journey.

Don’t let the back to school frenzy get you down! Keeping these tips in mind can help get you off to a great start for the 2017-2018 school year. As you adjust to crazy schedules and new challenges, be sure to check back for recipes and other fun tips and tricks we’ll be sharing.  And remember to take some time for your own health by checking out our newly reopened cardio fitness center!

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