On the surface, studies and sports may seem like two polar opposite activities that require the sacrifice of one of them to do better in the other. But that is not entirely true. As conflicting as these activities may seem, they are actually complementary. And there are several studies to prove that. One shows that sports can help in maintaining brain health, which consequently leads to better performance in intellectual tasks (Source: online journal titled Trends in Cognitive Sciences).
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Another goes on to state that students who pursue sports have improved memories and enhanced learning capacities (The Gerontological Society of America). While all of this is well and good, the million dollar question that arises is how to balance both so that you don’t have to compromise on any of them? Let us elaborate on the useful ways that can help you achieve this seemingly impossible feat.
- Plan out every minute of every day
If you are bending it like David Beckham in the field (or even batting like Sachin Tendulkar), and then trying to nail your exams like the class nerd, then that means you have a lot on your plate. And to make sure that you hit the right goals in all the corners, you need to have a plan. Make use of a desk calendar to plan out your day, scheduling every activity – from football practice at 6 am to classes from 9 am and then evening study sessions. Tick mark against each activity as and when it’s done and at the end of the week, revisit your calendar to check if changes can be made to manage your time better.
Do you want to be a full-time sports star? Or do you want to suit up for a corporate firm? If you are in high school or college, chances are you already have made your choice among the two. And since you know what to do, you should prioritise one over the other and set your schedule. Although we must tell you that even if you choose the path of sports, it will still be wiser for you to stress on your academics. A sound education can take you places lest your dreams do not come to fruition.
- Use all the free time you get
While your schedule is a hectic one in comparison to the rest of the students, if you analyse it you will see that you still have a lot of free time that you can make use of. Take, for example, free periods. Instead of hanging out with your friends in the cafeteria, use this time to spend in the library catching up on the classes you have missed out on or the homework you could not complete last night. This way you’ll find it a lot easier to juggle both academics and sports.
- Include the weekends
Weekends are like your saviours. They can take you from clueless in class to the student who answers all the questions the teacher asks. Most teachers give the homework for the coming week well in advance so you can do it all during the weekends and concentrate on practising for the game when the week starts. You can also use this time to read up on the chapters that have been taught in class so that you feel less pressurised to study in case your next game clashes with an upcoming exam.
- Request your teacher to make some adjustments
Since you are helping in bringing glory and honour to your school, you will find that your teachers will be willing to make some adjustments for you so that you do not have to compromise too much. For example, if the dates of a class test are the same as one of your cricket matches, you can request your teacher to let you take the test after hours. Alternatively, you can even ask your sport’s coach to reschedule practices so that you do not miss out on too many classes.
- Do not procrastinate and fall behind
Procrastination is the mother of all evil, and holds the power to ruin the reputation you have earned through hard work and brilliant performances on-field and off it. Hence, if you get any assignments to do, complete them as soon as you get them instead of waiting the last moment. Moreover, it’s important for you to not lag in behind in academics. This is because it is easier to stay ahead of your syllabus rather than to catch up with it at the last moment.
- Do all your household chores in a single day
Let’s not forget that you have some duties and responsibilities at the home front too that are time-consuming and unfortunately, unavoidable. Instead of spacing out all these mundane chores all throughout the course of the week, bundle them together and do them on one single day instead. Try it, and you’ll see that you will have a lot of time to spare if you do it this way.
- Don’t study or play in excess
In a bid to be better at either academics or sports, you may find yourself doing one or the other of them in excess. Even though practice makes perfect, exhausting yourself does not. If you stretch yourself beyond your limits for any one of them, you will end up treating them as work you’d rather not do. Instead, try to develop a positive attitude towards both of them. Treat your sports as an escape from academics, and your books as a path to your dreams and a successful life. Keep alternating your time between the two so that you don’t get saturated.
- If academics get too hard, get a tutor
As a student-athlete, you may miss out on a lot of classes. Even though that’s not exactly ideal, there’s a silver lining to this cloud. Most colleges/schools do not want the studies of their athletes to suffer, which is why they have extra provisions on offer just for them. This includes classes after hours wherein teachers can help you catch up on your syllabus and can even make you understand concepts that you don’t get. Studies will cause much less stress if you take help.
- Always study in a quiet social media-free zone
After you’re done with a gruelling practice session, sitting down to study in the kitchen with your phone in your hand will hardly help you in getting good grades. In such a setting, it will be quite easy for your brain to get distracted. The perfect environment for you will be a quiet room that has zero distractions so that you can calm your mind and consequently, increase your focus. Make sure that you cut yourself off from social media during the time you are studying. Facebook and other such platforms can take up a lot of your precious time, which you already lack in since you are a student athlete.
- Give yourself breaks
With so much going on in your life, you deserve nothing more than a break, and you should give yourself one. While planning your daily schedule, ensure that you put in a slot for ‘me time.’ And this period should not just be restricted to 20 minutes. Give yourself at least an hour or two to relax, unwind and do whatever you want to. From spending quiet time at home with your pet to hanging out with your friends and watching TV shows – use this time as and how you want it to. Even cut back on some tasks such as household chores when you feel too tired.
- Keep motivating yourself
All is not lost if you lose a match or did not manage to do well in your mid-terms. Remember you will always get another chance. The essential thing is that you keep yourself motivated and inspired enough to move forward despite the setbacks you face. Just take a look at some of the sports celebrities such as Michael Jordan and Frank Lampard who are not only good at the sports they play but are also academic geniuses.
At the end of the day its crucial for you to recognise the fact that sports and education are not opposing forces but rather symbiotic ones that can help you reach professional and personal zenith that most other students dream of. When you feel down and out with the pressures of both studies and sports, turn to your friends, family, coach and teacher to give you the support you need. Also, remember to stay healthy and enjoy yourself through every stage of your journey.
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