With school back in full gear, it’s important for student athletes to maintain balance and perspective throughout their busy schedules. Staying healthy, both physically and mentally, can seem like a challenge in the midst of exams and competitions. Let’s analyze a few helpful strategies that you can use right now to improve how you manage your time and energy.
All too often, competitions land on the weekend before or even during exams. If you have both a competition and an exam to prepare for, the best strategy is to get as far ahead on your coursework so you don’t fall behind when you’re traveling. Bringing study materials on the plane with you is a good idea, but your time will otherwise be constrained during the trip so it is in your best interest to plan ahead. Tell your professors you will be out of town well in advance of leaving. This will avoid unwanted confusion regarding absences, deadlines, and presentations. Turn in your group projects early, or finish your portion of a group project ahead of time so that you do not have to coordinate with people while traveling.
Sleep is necessary for great performance in the classroom and in competition. Cheating yourself out of it to study more can hurt you more than help you. In a perfect world, you would never procrastinate. Instead, manage your sleep by setting a specific bedtime and sticking to it. This can help you work more efficiently, with a pseudo-deadline of when you need to stop working. If you have assignments due soon, it is better to go to sleep earlier and wake up early to finish working. Take naps at every opportunity to keep your energy levels up.
During finals week, lack of sleep and extra time at your desk can lead to binge snacking on unhealthy foods. You’ll stay more focused and efficient if you maintain your healthiest eating habits. Opt for veggies and fruits over processed items, drink water, and keep a reasonable caffeine intake. When you don’t need to snack, try a piece of gum to keep away from the mindless eating.
When you’re at practice or at a competition, be mentally and physically engaged in your sport. The best student-athletes are excellent at compartmentalizing their various tasks in school and sports. Be present in the moment so you can put your full effort into the task at hand. It does no good to worry over academics when you are in a training session. Moreover, your training session can serve as a good mental break from academics.
Collegiate athletes have excellent time management skills that will surely prepare them for life beyond graduation, but no one is perfect. Whenever you begin to feel overwhelmed by school and sports, turn to these tips for a few strategies to help you out of a tight spot. Even in your busiest times of the year, remember to enjoy yourself in training and competitions, and to appreciate the incredible opportunity of representing your university in your sport. If you want to learn more, be sure to check out our recovery for collegiate athletes post.