College is supposed to be one of the best times, if not the best time, of your life. But if you’re constantly stressed about balancing academic work, athletics, and your social life, your college experience probably won’t be a whole lot of fun.
So, let’s take a closer look at some common challenges that student athletes face when it comes to balancing sports, schoolwork, and a social life, as well as some proven tips that will help you continue to play sports at a high level in college, while keeping your grades up and still having a healthy social life.
2 Major Challenges Student Athletes Face When It Comes To Balancing College Athletics, Academic Work, And A Social Life
1. The Amount Of Time Spent Playing Sports In College
We all know that there are only 24 hours in a day, and 168 hours in a week. Yet, surveys have revealed that student athletes spend anywhere from 30 hours to 44 hours each week on training and competition, 38½ hours to 40 hours working on academic-related tasks, and research suggests that student athletes should be getting at least nine or ten hours of sleep per night.
So, if a student athlete is training and doing sports-related tasks for 44 hours each week, then spending another 40 hours on academic work, and sleeping for the minimum recommended amount of time each week – 63 hours total, that takes up 147 hours out of a 168 hour week. That means that student athletes only have 21 hours left for the rest of the week to do everyday activities such as eating, showering, and running errands. This leaves very little ‘free time’ for student athletes to have a healthy social life.
Since student athletes’ schedules are so jam-packed, it makes sense that more than 1 in 3 student athletes say that athletic time demands do not allow them to take classes that they want to. Between 66% and 76% of DI and DII athleteswould prefer to spend more time on academics, and approximately 35% to 41% of DI and DII athletes report lacking adequate time to keep up with classes during the season. In fact, DI baseball players, as well as men’s and women’s basketball players, miss more than two classes per week because of athletic time demands during the season.
2. The Amount Of Pressure On Elite Athletes To Perform Both Athletically And Academically In College
Research has shown that academic performance is a significant source of stress for most college students. Since college athletes have two major roles that they must balance – being a college student and an athlete – this stress may be even more intense among college athletes because they need to not only be successful in the classroom, but they also have to excel in their respective sport. And when these demands are perceived as exceeding the athlete’s capacity, this stress can be detrimental to the student’s mental and physical health, as well as to sport performance.
Importance Of Maintaining A Social Life In Addition To Sports Training And School
There are many reasons why student athletes should have a healthy and balanced social life. For starters, having a social life may help student athletes reduce their stress levels. That’s because a social life offers student athletes an outlet that can help them take their minds off of the constant athletic and academic pressure that they face, which may help them relieve stress.
A balanced social life will also give student athletes the opportunity to do things that interest them other than playing sports. This is especially important since less than 2% of all college athletes will go on to play professional sports.
3 Proven Tips For Balancing Academics, Athletics, And A Social Life in College
1. Time Management Skill
In order to succeed, student athletes need to be extremely organized. Some ways that student athletes can improve their time management skills are to use a calendar or a planner, complete homework assignments as soon as they get them, and study in advance so that they don’t have to cram for tests.
Student athletes should also set goals for themselves and then think through everything that they need to do in order to achieve their goals. Then they can create daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and/or yearly to-do lists in order to keep themselves focused, motivated, and on track. Student athletes also shouldn’t take on too many responsibilities and they should avoid procrastinating. By avoiding procrastination, student athletes will be able to put more time back in their day.
2. Prioritize Self-Care
As a student athlete, your schedule often isn’t your own. That’s why it’s so important for student athletes to control the parts of their schedule, and their life, that they can. One way to do this is to prioritize self-care.
There are several different versions of self-care such as physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental. For student athletes, self-care can pretty much be any human function that helps them nurture themselves so that they can manage stress and achieve a greater sense of feeling rested internally after a grueling practice, a challenging test, or any other athletic, academic, or social demand that’s placed on them.
Some examples of self-care include eating well, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, practicing mindfulness, laughing while watching a favorite TV show, reading a book, taking a walk, or even spending time alone.
If you’re thinking, I don’t have time for that! Make time for it so that you don’t experience burnout.
3. Expand Your Social Circle
While playing on a team can help athletes develop many of the social skills that they need for life, it’s still important for student athletes to have a social life that doesn’t only revolve around their team and teammates.
For example, if an elite athlete gets injured and can’t be around his or her teammates, it will be that much harder for the athlete to overcome the injury if he or she doesn’t have a solid support system to turn to while his or her teammates are training for games or are away at competitions.
So, while your teammates will likely be your best friends since you’re together all the time, it’s also important to have friends or connections in college outside of your sport, as well.