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Balancing School and Sports

As we race steadily on to the start of this next school year, it can never hurt to think a little about what our schedule will be like for the next few months. We have to keep track of classes, study sessions, working, social lives, and all sorts of extracurricular activities. One major time commitment is if one plays a sport (or two, or three…).

No matter at what level – intramural, club, or varsity – playing sports can really take up a lot of time. Being an athlete generally takes up considerably more time than exercising or working out to stay in shape.

I have experience with all three of these levels of sports so I’d like to pass along some insights I’ve gained from the past three years. First, here is some background about my experiences. My freshman year of college I played club soccer (I played soccer from age 4 up through my senior year of high school, but I wasn’t interested in playing at the college level). A large group of us got together about 3 times a week to kick around the ball and get some games going. I probably spent an average of 3-7 hours a week playing soccer in the afternoons. Two of the afternoons were on weekdays and one was on Sundays. This lasted for basically all of my first year at school and gave me a great group of people to know right off the bat, plus it was a ton of fun. My sophomore year I went to the first couple of club soccer practices but hardly anyone showed up (the majority of the guys playing had graduated the previous May), and I figured it wasn’t worth my time to keep going if no one was going to play. I switched to the ultimate frisbee team (also considered a club sport at my school) since I had a lot of friends on it and loved that as well. We also had practices 3 times a week, ironically enough at the same time as the club soccer met, and again I was spending around 6-7 hours each week playing frisbee. I was very active on the team for the first semester but by the end of the second semester I was a little burned out on it. So the fall of my junior year I took up tae kwon do. We have a physical education requirement so I figured I would just take TKD (I had spent about 5 years when I was much younger working through many belts) and ended up also joining the club that semester for extra practice. I spent 5 hours in club and 2 hours in class each week, for another total of 7 hours. (I see a trend here!) For spring semester, though, I had decided to take a huge plunge and join the track and field team, a varsity sport. I attend a Division III school so we don’t really have tryouts or cuts for the running program, which is really nice! I absolutely loved it and am looking forward to running cross country this fall. Track and field took up considerably more time – two hour practice every day plus going to meets usually meant about 10-15 hours of practice plus at least a full day or two for each meet.

BLABLA

All right, now that you know all that background information you can understand a bit more where I’m coming from with these tips. They will apply to anyone interested in playing a sport at school, whether it’s from the IM level all the way to varsity.

  • Get stuff done – I can’t stress this enough. If you know you want to spend two hours playing basketball on Wednesday but have homework due Thursday, make sure you get the homework done! Exercise and sports are a great stress reliever but also a great procrastinator. Don’t let your academics slide for sports. If you have a big game or meet over the weekend, make sure you get everything done for Monday so you’re not stressed out Sunday night.
  • Know when to stop or take it easy – If your body hurts, give it a rest. There’s no sense in injuring yourself. If you have too much going on, step back from the athletics and figure out what you want to prioritize.
  • Talk to your coach and/or captain – About anything. They are there to help you out with your athletics and, really, life in general. Listen to what they have to say, and learn from their experiences.
  • Utilize the trainer – If something hurts you, go talk to the trainer! Even if you are not a varsity athlete they can at least point you in the right direction. Don’t wait to get treated for an injury.
  • Remember you’re in school to learn – Even if you really love your sport, you really came to college to learn (unless you’re one of those high school athletic prodigies who goes to a DI powerhouse on a full-ride athletic scholarship). Don’t let your academics slide. They’re likely what is going to get you a job or grad school after you finish your undergrad, not athletics.

I hope you find some of these tips useful. It’s a big time commitment to play a sport in college, no matter at what level, but it’s also very rewarding physically, mentally, and socially. Have fun with it!

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47 Responses to “Balancing School and Sports”

  1. As far as injury prevention and sports go, I think the most important thing is to listen to your body. It will tell you when it’s had enough. It can be difficult to tell when you are making an injury worse by exercise rather than taking it easy, and in those cases you should get a doctor’s opinion. If you’re just feeling winded (say, from sprinting), then it’s good to push on to build up your cardio.

  2. used tires says:

    Great tips man, I used to run track in high school, and I start running at college, but it wound up taking way too much time, and I opted just to drop the team. The track team was fun, but I think it was definitely a better decision to concentrate more on my studies.

    Till then,

    Jean

  3. Someone who left my high school last year was going to study Medicine at the University.
    The other thing he was going to do was practise ROEIEN, and he did that a lot. And now I am joining the University, and he is still at the same level as last year, so we are classmates. He lost a year because of his sports.

  4. Balancing your academic work and sports activities is definitely not easy. The last thing you feel like is homework after an afternoons worth of hard training.

  5. But im looking at the positive side of students playing sports like the fact that they are more fit in High School and as they get older they are less likely to become obese, which is the number one problem in the U.S.

  6. In School sport is not about fitness, its about how to compete, how to be a winner and how to be a looser, if the person likes one to one situations, or if they are a Team player. All that life has to offer can be found in sport, from being the individual, the outsider, to being a team player, working in a team.

  7. I am a school counselor and have worked with hundreds of students and parents. The same questions about how to find the right college or plan for college keep coming up. I decided to set up some online classes (self paced) to answer many of your questions and activities to help in the process.

  8. It’s true, trying to balance athletics, or any other serious extra-curricular activity, with academics is no easy task. For me it helps to realize that there is someone doing more, and he’s doing a better job. He probably has a wife and kids, works a full time job, and still finds a way to make great grades.

    Chances are you aren’t the bottom of the barrel, so it’s always humbling to look at those who have it harder.

  9. True, Balancing your academic work and sports activities is definitely not easy. The last thing you feel like is homework after an afternoons worth of hard training.

  10. Although, I am attending this high school in college program where I attend community college and receive both high school and college credits at the same time but I can still join high school activities.

  11. I’ve recently become interested in becoming an officall for high school footbal games, mostly interested in football, but wouldn’t mind doing other high school sports including little league and pop warner, not sure where to begin?

  12. Metal Cases says:

    I agree that balancing sports and school can be difficult. They both demand a lot of your time. If you are not careful, it is easy to neglect your schoolwork. If you can properly balance both, it can be very rewarding. Sports can give you that stress relief you often need when you are spending a lot of time studying.

  13. This is a great post, and yes balancing the two can be very stressful on some kids as they are required to excel in both and if they fail at one then they feel as a failure, I do know that in the States kids have to do well at their school work in order to stay in their sports teams which is an excellent thing as you can’t rely on sports alone.

  14. I think when it comes to balancing school and sports its like anything in life its about time management, if you don’t know how to mange your time then things won’t balance out.

  15. Speaking up when you are not coping is the way to go trying to cope on your own can become too much for some, and one must remember that sports don’t last as you get older, and one needs to have an education to fall back on, so studies are just as important.

  16. Good tips for learn and sports. It’s really helpful information. Thanks.

  17. Some times Sports makes as very crazy and passionate which crates difficulties to balance our schooling and sports, as you say like sports other things and schooling equally important so we must need to balance both thins and your given tips surely helpful to all level of students.

  18. It can be hard to manage these things, but once you get a system down you will be able to do what you need to do and that’s that. Thanks for the article and tips Maria.

  19. I have trouble balancing school with anything. If someone throws swimming pants in front of me, it is a sure bet that I will go swimming instead of attending to homework. Of course, I need to get my priorities straight.

  20. pharmacy says:

    Thanks for share useful information.

  21. oes tsetnoc says:

    in our life we need to balance all things, not only schools and sports. if there is no balance, it is a waste of time. anyway, thanks for sharing your informative post.

  22. Metal Cases says:

    Balancing school and sports can be a real challenge. You need to decide how much of a priority each one is and decide how much time you can realistically devote to each activity. In the end you might realize that you need to make changes to be able to properly balance the two. Perhaps you need to reduce your course load or practice sports a little less.

  23. ATV Auctions says:

    To properly balance school & sports you may have to make other sacrifices. Maybe you need to date less often or spend less time in front of the tv. If you can balance the two, sports can be a great stress relief after a hard day of classes.

  24. @ Online Pregnancy Test – Of course we musn’t forget about one of the prime contact “sports” confronting the youth….your services will definitely be required by many keen participants…..LOL

  25. Sacrifices will need to be made to get all of this done, some good information here.

  26. School sport is not about fitness, its about how to compete, how to be a winner and how to be a looser, if the person likes one to one situations, or if they are a Team player. All that life has to offer can be found in sport, from being the individual

  27. In many areas you should expect to do a lot of Pop Warner or youth leagues the first year. As you improve you get a chance to move up to whatever level you eventually end up working…

  28. Yes, I agree it’s about sportsmanship not fitness. Sadly, a lot of people on team these days don’t seem to know a thing about it.

  29. Balancing sports and school can definitely be hard if you don’t have a well thought out plan. But I do think it’s worth it.

  30. For Sale says:

    Hi!, I really enjoyed this piece. thanks very much

  31. I have read all the comments made bit cross, that their were a lot said about schools not worrying about sports, in a day and age were, our kids are been always told that they are fat and lie in front of the TV, this is one of the best places kids get to do there exercises and rather stay healthy. So it is very important that they learn form a early start how to manage their time in order to do both and get smart and healthy!!!

  32. pregnancy says:

    Even if you don’t want to play a sport in college, it still looks good to universities that you did participate in athletics in high school, but its not for everyone and there are other alternatives to get involved with your high school community..

  33. pregnancy says:

    So I want to know what sports are in each season for high school. Like I think swimmin isin the winter. Can anyone give me a list of all the sports in each season? Thanks!

  34. pregnancy says:

    I couldn’t tell you what to try out for. It depends on what you like to do and what you might be good at. Talk to the coaches of the different sports and see which one appeals to you the most.

  35. ATV says:

    I guess the tough balancing act is partly why there is the stereotype of the dumb jock. Some people who are really into sports don’t put enough effort into their studies. Some of them may assume they are talented enough for a professional sports career and don’t think they need an education.

  36. Good tips of balance schools & sports. Many students confuse about this matter. Thanks for information.

  37. yes, whatever we do in our life schedule, we should take a balance in everything that we do.

  38. izle says:

    To properly balance school & sports you may have to make other sacrifices

  39. Film says:

    In many areas you should expect to do a lot of Pop Warner or youth leagues the first year.

  40. TV Episodes says:

    i like sports most especially soccer, in our school we tend to join soccer club but before that we must have good grades..

    so we study hard to be in the soccer club..

    school and sports is one of the things i missed in young days

  41. I think when it comes to balancing school and sports its like anything in life its about time management.

  42. Your best and most important tip in this article is that “you are in school to learn”. Nice work!

  43. mimar says:

    i like sports most especially soccer, in our school we tend to join soccer club but before that we must have good grades..

  44. vektör says:

    To properly balance school & sports you may have to make other sacrifices

  45. It is really not so easy to combine it. When you come home after training you don’t feel like studying. If you study too much you don’t have the energy to go and train. Guess you should leave the weekend for sport or days when you don’t have that much at school. It is possible and one shouldn’t forget about sport even when they study hard.

  46. Good tips for learn and sports. It’s really helpful information