Your parents are worried your increased interest in athletic pursuits will have a negative effect on your grades. You make the promise nothing like that will ever happen, but the nightly two-hour practices are eating into your homework time. What can you do to keep the promise to your parents?
You aren’t alone in this situation. The leap from childhood to the teenage years – includes a natural increase in the amount of homework you stash in your book bag. Around the same time in your life, you decide to ‘step up your game’ by trying out for stronger and more competitive athletic teams. You want to make the jump from the ‘recreational’ athlete to that of performing in the more competitive ‘select’ or ‘travel’ arena.
The twice-a-week recreational practice and once-a-week game schedule has now become a week filled with four practice days and two game days – or even a complete weekend of multiple tournament games. It’s tough to scrounge up enough time to finish your schoolwork, and when you do sit down and open a text book you find yourself so exhausted you can’t even concentrate.
Professional basketball coach Pat Riley once commented, “There are only two options regarding commitment. You’re either in or you’re out. There’s no such thing as life in-between.” This is exactly true of your life right now. This is where you must make a commitment to following some simple rules of time management. You have already decided you want to better yourself as an athlete by increasing your activity in a sport, but you cannot take this time from your study time.
There will always be some consequence to every decision you make, that’s why it’s important to think about them carefully. You know you have to get started on researching a social studies report, but the report isn’t due until next week. So, you log into the GroupMe chat set up with your friends. A quick ‘check-in’ results in eating up 45 minutes. Those minutes are lost. You cannot get them back. Using them to start your research would definitely lower the stress level affecting your school performance next week. By making such a simple adjustment, you have initiated a time management strategy. The mature decision not only helps you keep a promise to your parents, but it also lets you keep the even bigger promise to yourself. Besides, if you are productive you may also get those 5 minutes of chatting you promised yourself, but as a reward!
Successful coaches are the ones to make every minute of practice time matter. The same can be said of successful student-athletes. Develop a weekly and daily ‘quick assessment’ of all the school work you are facing. For example, you have a social studies report but still have 10 days before it is due. If this week is light on math and science homework, set up some extra time to start your project. If you let “light” homework weeks be too relaxed you will end up with all-nighter the next week. Take advantage of the natural balance in your homework and be as productive as you can.
There may be times when it may just seem impossible for you to fit everything into your life. If it comes down to a decision between your school work and athletics, there really isn’t a decision to make. Education is priority one. Let your coach know of your situation as soon as possible. Some coaches may tell you skipping practice will result in not starting or not playing the next game. The coach may not want to make such a harsh decision but he also must consider your teammates who are not missing a practice, particularly if there is a set of team rules, which cannot be ignored. However, most coaches are very understanding and if they see you are a hardworking student-athlete they will give you a chance to make it up to the team.