All students involved in athletics, or other after-school activities, understand how busy our schedules can become. After-school practices are the easy part, it is the late-night away competitions, weekend games, training camps, time spent with a trainer, team-building activities, and recruitment meetings which leave little time for other pursuits, sometimes including academics. While most athletes would not trade their spot on their team for anything and appreciate every benefit the sport has to offer, every player can agree that the constant busyness is sometimes stressful. The following are some tips to help busy students manage their time, coming from an athlete who is still figuring out balancing their schedule for themselves.
The first step in time management is prioritization. Look at your schedule, in the short term and long term and decide what is most important to you. Is it academics? Is it athletics, theater, or music? Whatever the case, determine which focus will benefit you the most in your future, and spend the most energy on that. Everyone must accept that they cannot put 100% of their effort into every activity, and one must take precedence over the other. However, this can vary daily or nightly depending on the situation. Even if you decide you need to focus more on academics over athletics, it is okay to spend less time staying up studying for one test the night before the biggest competition of your career. Conversely, skipping one practice to study for midterms is often acceptable, even if athletics is your focus; it is all about balance. Of course, it would be ideal to study for the test and do well in the game or go to practice and study for midterms, but doing both are not worth it if it is causing you immense stress.
Also, always keep in mind the 5 P’s: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance (thank you Mr. Trabocco for teaching me this tip). For example, if you know you have a math test and soccer game on Friday, don’t save studying until Thursday night. Plan ahead, and study throughout the week so that you can get to bed early on Thursday and excel in both pursuits. Or, if you have something like the SATs coming up, or just a big test, make sure you plan ahead to talk with your coach about what you’re missing in practice, and what you can do to maybe make it up. The same goes for missing part of class due to a game; make sure you talk to your teacher ahead of time.
Finally, don’t worry too much, and take everything one day at a time. If you did poorly on a test, remember it is just one test. Figure out what you did wrong, and study harder for the next one. If you perform poorly at a game or meet, brush it off and train harder. Being able to participate on a team is a privilege which will provide some of our best memories and life lessons, but all student-athletes must be accountable for managing our other responsibilities, too.