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Life As A College Athlete Is All About Balance

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Balance is key when it comes to being a college student-athlete. Many of us not only have practice, weights, conditioning, classes, studying, and homework to do, but also working a job, having a social life, and trying to get enough sleep every night. It seems impossible when thinking about everything we have to do on a weekly basis.

All you need to know is how to balance everything. It will be tough to manage at first, but once you come up with a set schedule, everything will be so much more manageable.

I struggled my freshman year having to adapt from high school to college. Not only was it hard being at a large school in a different state from my hometown where I knew nobody, but also having to adapt to the life of a student-athlete. In high school, it was easy to juggle sports and school because practices and academics were not as demanding and time-consuming.

But college is a different story.

Learning how to balance everything out on any given day, week, semester, or year is how you’ll determine whether or not you will make or break your college experience as a student-athlete.

My freshman year was a learning experience. I eventually figured out on my own how to set aside time for every aspect of my life, but I wish I had gotten guidance before things got tough. The people you should talk to about learning how to adapt to college life as a student-athlete are your academic advisor, your coaches, and your upperclassmen teammates.

Your academic advisor already knows what classes you are taking and that you are an athlete. They can help create a schedule where you set aside time for studying and homework as well as setting up tutors and office hour appointments if needed. It is their job to help you succeed in the classroom so take full advantage of their presence.

We are student-athletes, not athlete-students.

Your coaches will probably know more about your practice schedule than your class schedule, but they can still help you maintain a healthy balance. If you ask to get out of practice early so you can study for your exam that is worth 50% of your grade, I guarantee they will be fine with that because they want you to succeed in the classroom just as much as they want you to succeed in your sport. My coach always says that we are student-athletes, not athlete-students. This could not be truer. Academics should always come first.

The upperclassmen on your team have been in your shoes. They all struggled their first semester of college, but they all ended up with a routine that worked for them. If they didn’t, they probably would have quit by now. Ask a teammate in your major for advice on how to study, practice, attend class, and do homework. Ask multiple teammates what they did that worked for them and try all those suggestions to see what works best for you. Everyone is different and most things in life are done on a trial and error basis, so why not try these different methods?

Aside from academics and athletics, having a social life and getting enough rest are also important in college. It’s healthy to have friends outside of your teammates. Try joining a club or fraternity/sorority if you think you will have enough time for that. If you believe you will be too busy for another club or group of friends to hang out with, then just hang out with your teammates outside of practices. It is important to bond and have some relaxing time with friends during stressful times. I usually do all of my social/fun activities on the weekends, and if I have enough free time, I will do something with friends during the week too.

Giving yourself space from athletics and academics is healthy and necessary, not to mention the importance of getting enough sleep, especially during the season. Sometimes getting eight hours of sleep every single night is a bit out of reach. My goal is to get at least seven hours. If I am running behind on homework, I will take the extra little bit of time to finish it before heading to bed because you can always take naps or sleep longer the next night, but you can’t turn in your homework late without getting penalized.

If you have a job on the side, make sure you don’t overwork yourself. It is great to have this on your resume and to make some extra cash while going to school, but don’t run yourself down too much. If you have enough time in your schedule to work a few hours a week, then do it! You know what is best for you and your health.

These are just some of the few ways to live a healthy balanced life as a college student-athlete. Try new things and see which methods work best for you. Everyone will adapt to a different lifestyle that is effective for them. You will notice a difference once you start succeeding in every aspect of your busy life like I did in the spring semester of my freshman year.


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