4 Back to School Basics for Student Athletes
By the end of this week most kids across the country will be back in school, prompting student athletes to take pause and think about how to develop a schedule that allows for multi-tasking and maximum productivity. Unlike summer, kids are now tasked with the responsibilities of classes and homework in addition to practices and games, as well as other clubs, activities, and social endeavors. All of these responsibilities coming in at once can be overwhelming for kids, making it vitally important to have a good plan in place to start the school year.
A stressful time of year
Fall is a time of year where I tend to see a lot of student athletes at my practice, with most reporting that it can be quite stressful getting a good system in place that allows for their priorities, as well as time to have fun and simply be a kid. I can understand where kids experience their stress, as in countless examples over the years I have witnessed kids who literally go “wire-to-wire” every day with school, studying, practices, and various other responsibilities that leave them little, if any, time to catch their breath. This lifestyle can be exhausting for kids, leaving them vulnerable for poor coping and a host of other physical and mental ailments.
To help start the school year off on the right foot consider the following tips to help:
- Develop a planning/time management system. It’s never too early to help kids learn how to keep trek of their obligations and appointments, whether it’s through their smart phone calendar or by using an “old school” method of writing dates in a planner. When kids don’t have a system in place, they run a high risk for missing appointments and assignments, being late, and eventually feeling completely overwhelmed by always feeling behind.
- Keep priorities in place. While sports and other activities are fun, getting the grades needs to be priority #1. When kids struggle academically, they run the risk of being ineligible for sports (and other activities), leading to more stress. Also, be sure to use positive reinforcement when kids show they can successfully multi-task so that they will continue to develop their self confidence and keep their priorities straight.
- Communicate! With so many tasks, responsibilities, and people to answer to, it is very important that kids brush up on both their written and verbal communication skills. Help kids learn the basics of appropriate electronic communication, as well as how to keep coaches, teachers, and other important people in the loop with all their responsibilities.
- Make sure to provide down-time. While kids can sometimes get the feeling of being invincible, nobody is super-human and able to constantly go 24/7. Kids will often dismiss the value of down-time, but by doing so they eventually fatigue their bodies and their level of alertness also suffers, sometimes to the point where performance declines as a result. Make sure to prioritize good sleep, mini breaks throughout the day, and occasional days where they can get “off the grid”completely with fun days.
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