Youth Canada

Finding the Balance between Sports and Academics for Student-Athletes

4-08-2009 by Emerson Csorba

Finding the Balance between Sports and Academics for Student-Athletes

For elite athletes, finding a healthy balance between time allotted to studies and sufficient practice at the training pitch is often a nonplussing endeavor which may only be learned through the trials and tribulations of personal experience. If an athlete fails to consecrate substantial time to his sporting practice, then performance in athletics may suffer as game skills lose refinement. Similarly, a student that emphasizes athletic training and simultaneously neglects studying for exams will surely see his overall average plummet. In order for the perennial student-athlete to flourish in the two dichotomous areas of focus – academics and sports – specific habits must be developed which ensure that time is being spent wisely. Thankfully, the guidelines which aspiring student-athletes should follow are simple and require merely one ingredient – commitment. By adhering to the following tips, a student-athlete can achieve prodigiously in the two aforementioned facets of life and maximize his potential to excel on the field and in the classroom.

Listen Intently in Class and Ask Questions

Students that focus diligently in class will infallibly learn at expeditious rates and reduce the load of homework which must be taken home; for student-athletes, this means less time spent stressing over tests and unnecessary late nights prior to sporting events. Prior to the formal beginning of class, a student-athlete would be wise to pick a seat in front of the class. By sagaciously choosing to sit in the front row, a student-athlete will minimize distractions which result from chatter in class and will ameliorate his concentration on the lecture. Furthermore, when a questions arises in a student-athlete’s mind, he should immediately raise his hand to pose it to the teacher. When students ask questions to their teachers, they ensure that learning occurs within the confines of the classroom, rather than having to engage in cumbersome internet searches at home while cramming for an exam. Indeed, the tips above are often the habits of any highly-successful student; yet, these guidelines should be heeded with particular attention by student-athletes. Student-athletes are usually bereft of time for both study and athletics in the first place, which means that maximizing time in the classroom becomes an exponentially greater component for success.

Speak to Teachers After Class

Conversing with instructors is a superlative method to simultaneously ameliorate the student-teacher relationship and solidify any beclouded academic concepts. If a teacher is available after class for even five minutes of dialogue, then capitalize on this opportunity. Perhaps one wishes to clarify the tricky chain rule in math, or discuss his outline for a heavily-weighted Othello essay. Regardless of the magnitude of the question, ask it. These short but invaluable sessions entail only five minutes of one’s day, but they will reduce anxiety for the student-athlete that must ensure that the majority of each school day is spent productively.

Set Goals

Becoming adept at setting realistic goals is among the leading factors which promote academic and athletic success. While in a tranquil environment, set aside ten minutes to create short-term and long-term goals. With the former, a goals-list should be created for every week which includes any important school event such as a chapter quiz or unit exam. For instance, write “History German Unification Essay” and then to the right, “90%” accompanied by a square box for a later checkmark provided that the goal is accomplished. In the case of the latter, make year-long goals, such as “Honors with Distinction” standing. Long-terms goals serve as constant reminders for what a student is working towards. Finally, when a list has been constructed, keep it on the front page of your binder where it will be seen on a consistent basis. Again, these tips can apply to any student, but for student-athletes, are of paramount importance. Over time, goals lists will become a habit as will success in both academics and sports.

Review at home or in the car

The time spent reviewing material learned on the same day within the classroom allows a student to solidify important information and create an unwavering foundation for academic success. Student-athletes are usually on the road, traveling to out-of-province tournaments or even in a plane, flying across the nation, continent or overseas. Attempt to fill at least a portion of this time with review of concepts learned from within class. In addition, attempt each night to review for ten to twenty minutes what was learned in each class at school. Review serves two distinct purposes. First, review leads to learning which prepares a student for academic success. Second, review is mentally-engaging and is a source of relaxation, which is a perfect environment for an athlete that is preparing to compete later on during the evening. Wherever a student-athlete may be, attempt to review notes or recall the lessons taught by the instructor during class.

Tackle Assignments as soon as they are Assigned

A common source of anxiety for many athletes is having to cope with homework that has amassed over time when a competition is imminent. Fortunately, this can be prevented if a student-athlete commits himself to complete assignments shortly after they are handed on. If a take-home essay is handed out on Monday and is due on Friday, do not wait until Thursday night to begin writing. Instead, begin the preparation on Monday night and work to complete it by Tuesday night. That way, the following two days – Wednesday and Thursday – can be allotted for correcting minor grammatical mistakes or exchanging the essay for review with peers. This allows a student-athlete to compete on say, Thursday, without having to worry about coming home to engage in a time-consuming and meticulous ordeal.

Student-athlete life is certainly a time-consuming phenomenon, in which pressures to succeed are elevated in both the classroom and on the field. Fortunately, student-athletes can develop positive habits which help them succeed in the two important sectors of life. The plethora of lessons which are often heeded by prominent student-athletes extend from maximizing learning in the classroom by sitting in the front row to posing myriad questions. Additionally, student-athletes would be intelligent to converse with teachers after class when further questions must be answered in addition to setting both short and long-term goals. Lastly, ensure that a chunk of free time is spent reviewing key concepts in each subject and that every assignment is completed as soon after it is issued. By following the nimiety of aforementioned guidelines, a student-athlete will aid himself immensely in achieving a healthy balance between school and sports.

EMERSON CSORBA is preparing to commence studies at the University of Alberta’s Campus Saint Jean, where he will major in sciences politiques and histoire. At Old Scona Academic High School, he earned First Class Honors in grade 12, won the HKVCA Cross-Canada Essay Contest and a Merit Award in the Sanofi-Aventis BioTalent Challenge. He volunteers as a writer for Crime Stoppers and the Antarctic Institute of Canada and coordinated an elementary Reading Buddies Program. An avid athlete, Emerson captained the Varsity Men’s Soccer team, presided over the OSA Athletics Council and has travelled across North America for baseball.