For a high school or college athlete, practice, games, and studying can be a real challenge. Oh, and don’t forget to include socializing and dating. Truthfully, more time goes toward perfecting sport rather than studying. That’s ok. There is nothing wrong with perfecting your sports skills. In fact, research shows that those who play sports have enhanced cognitive development because exercise increases blood flow to the brain. Also, the brain and body build more neural pathways. These neural pathways become stronger through movement repetition and are connected to our thinking/cognitive centers.
Playing sports develops and leads to several excellent qualities needed for academics, for example:
- The ability to concentrate better and more effectively
- Improve your memory and retention
- Learn things easily,
- Think quickly
- Make decisions faster
- Be creative
- Better at problem-solving, etc.
Playing sports, molds your brain to learn well academically and in life.
You must understand early that academics are equally important. One thing you have to realize, if you are failing, you are out. You can’t play. So, grades are important if your goal is to play while in college, you have to maintain the minimum required GPA to keep playing.
A note to parents reading. It is important to enroll your child in sports at an early age. In doing this, it will mold their mind sooner instead of later. I played soccer at the age of 5. It helped me develop my skills to make the team and play all through high school. I also added wrestling to the agenda, becoming a 2-sport player. After high school, I played rugby in college for four years. It is a challenge to practice, play, and study. But, when I was young, my parents limited my TV time. Told me, don’t study in front of the TV, that you will learn more in 15 minutes in quiet than with noise around you. They made time for me to study, play video games, eat dinner, go out, and play to be a kid. They would also help me study by quizzing me. I retained those qualities when I entered high school and college. However, in high school and college, sometimes, I faltered. Life was very different in each of those phases. For the most part, I kept and used those skills my parents instilled in me as a child-athlete. Responsibility will teach you how to balance.
My Dad used to say, What do you want to happen from what you are doing? Create a goal and follow the rules and things that you need to get it done; to go to the next level. Because the final result of that goal is the preparation and beginning for another one, even if you don’t know what that is yet. For example, if you want to go and play sports and study in college, you need to perfect high school first; to habitually structure your effort and hard work: mentally, physically, and emotionally. Understand this with all you do.
Sacrifice. Life is demanding in high school and college, incorporating mandatory practices and competition to your course load schedule. I would like to say you may, but it is more likely you will have to make sacrifices for things you want. You may have to skip hanging out with friends sometimes. Don’t worry. There are many good times to be had. You just can’t and won’t experience them all. You have to keep the goal in mind. You must be motivated by that goal, or it can slip away easily. I have seen it happen. Good athletes start socializing too much where grades, practice, and performance suffered, affecting their spot on the team.
Organize and prioritize your schedule. Understand what you need to do each week. Write down on a calendar when schoolwork, projects, and papers are due, as well as when you have practice and games. When you write things down, they become and feel more real.
Manage time. Your schedule will be demanding, no doubt! Rest and sleep at a normal time to wake up early and study at that time. Find times during the day to read and study as well. At the end of the day, write your assignments. Use the voice recorder on your phone to record ideas and notes quickly throughout the day. If you use your time wisely, you won’t be cramming. Manage your time, and you will succeed.
Avoid distractions. Don’t study in front of the TV or with distracting music. You can concentrate and retain more information and accomplish more that allows you to get ahead of your course schedule. And, getting ahead is productive for your mind, body, soul. You can enjoy your time, practice more, and not stress.
Do not procrastinate. Don’t wait till the last minute to do your assignments. Procrastinating will cause you to lose concentration and worry about what you need to do when you should have done it. It will interfere with your sport, concentration and cause you to worry. Procrastination destroys time management.
Sleep. Sleep is important to recharge your mind and have enough energy to complete the next day and stay on track.
Stick to the Routine. The more you make each day habitual, the easier it becomes to live it.
Use your weekends. Do some homework, assignments, and studying on the weekends before you go to hang-out or have fun. Use the weekend as a means to catch-up or get ahead for the next week. But, also take this time to relax and have fun too. Stay ahead of the game. Planning and getting ahead is key.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Teachers and coaches want you to succeed in life. A teacher uses academics, and a coach uses sport. Most teachers understand how both are effective for the student-athlete. Unfortunately, some do not. Teachers will have more respect for you if you ask for help. Same with the coach. If you are falling behind, let the coach know. They will want to help you because they know if your grades or situation becomes worse, you can’t play. They know academics, classwork, homework, presentations, exams, projects, etc., need to be a priority. They might be ok with you attending half of the practice or possibly missing a practice. And, teachers may be more understanding of your schedule if you communicate issues to them.
Just know, the more you learn to deal with demands “of the now,” will prepare you for demands later in life.
Good grades are important. The better your grades, the more easily you can receive a scholarship to play. It shows you have a responsibility to academics and take both seriously. For the coach, it is less he/she needs to worry about your failing and not playing.
If you follow these tips, you can improve your grades, attend practice and games as well as have a social life and fun! You just need to be responsible and learn to have the power to sometimes say no.