Helping Students Balance Athletics and Academics




Academic rigor and athletic prowess aren’t mutually exclusive. But as many parents know, good scholastic standing is typically a prerequisite for sports participation. Though it’s certainly not the only reason to balance both.

With a little help multitasking students can successfully strike a balance between their athletic demands and academic obligations. Here are five strategies that can help.

  1. Communicate conflicts in advance. At the beginning of each semester, encourage students to cross-compare their game schedule with the syllabus. Check for any conflicts. If an away game falls on the same day as a test or project deadline, they should be planning ahead to complete the work in advance. They may also need to consult their coaches if inflexible standardized testing days or finals will prevent them from participating in practices.
  2. Get a study buddy. Best to buddy up with a classmate who doesn’t have the same athletic schedule as them. However, that doesn’t mean athletes can’t and shouldn’t help each other out. Basketball players might join forces with some of the football team to take notes in the other’s absence and double down on difficult concepts. The more help they have with intense or unfamiliar subjects, the more those subjects should solidify.
  3. Take advantage of tutoring. Teachers have a vested interest in student success. If they offer an extra tutoring session, hold a study hall, or suggest a specific resource, don’t pass on it. And don’t be afraid to ask for these things either. Students often need repetitive exposure to fully grasp new material. Make sure students know it’s not a marker of their intelligence if they don’t get it the first time around. In fact, asking for help is a sign of smarts and dedication.
  4. Make use of travel time. With all those away games, students likely have built in time to study. It may not be entirely free of distraction, but there are ways around that, too. If they claim a noisy bus is making it difficult to concentrate, have them download audiobooks and follow along in their own texts. Better to get a little ahead than to fall even a little behind.
  5. Don’t forget to prioritize yourself. Students only get one chance to be a high school student. At the threshold of adulthood, there are also family and friends who are invaluable sources of support for students. These shouldn’t be neglected. After finishing a critical task, they should set aside some time to relax and reflect. If at any point sports become too demanding and unrewarding, it could be worth contemplating.

In the end, there’s not just one right way to be a successful student-athlete. The most important thing is to help kids master the art of multitasking. This alone has benefits that can help bring balance to all variety of differing responsibilities both on and outside the schoolyard.