Being a student athlete is hard work. The amount of time and dedication it takes to compete at any level can at times leave little room for anything else. Finding time to schedule in school work, friends and family soon leaves many athletes overwhelmed and unsure of how to deal with all that is on their plate. The majority of young athletes that excel in their sporting venue also excel in school because of their internal drive to succeed. It is also what makes them say yes to student council, yearbook and many other school activities. Creating an environment for the athletes to succeed is job held by many and each of them have specific roles.
As the parent you are the master conductor and scheduler. You shuttle the kids from school to practices and games and back home again, watching them do homework in the back seat or in the stands while waiting for their siblings to be done. You see them texting their friends or talking to them after school. Part of your job as master scheduler is to put time in each day for your children to complete their school work. Try to give them uninterrupted time and space to complete their homework for the day. When planning for weekends away, have the children speak to their teachers in advance to get their assignments and reading for that period. Schedule time each week for them to have friend time, family time and down time. It is very easy for everyone to get caught up in the rat race of classes and sport, even young athletes need time to spend with their friends. It may be they end up playing street hockey, a pick up game of basketball or doing cartwheels in the basement but it needs to unstructured socialization time with their friends. Family is important, as you will be who they fall back on when things get tough in life. Spend at least one night a week together as a family to reconnect, turn off the phones and find out how everyone's week has been. Each person needs some me time, so let them have it. This time will be useful as your athletes will discover how they are feeling both physically and mentally when the world slows down around them.
Coaches need to remember that sport is not their athletes full time occupation, school is. Schedule enough time for your athletes to rest, do school work and have fun. Athletes who are both mentally and physically fatigued will not be able to focus on the skills expected of them. You should encourage your athletes to excel at school, as the problem solving and critical thinking skills they gain there will help improve their on field performance.
As an athlete you may feel the pressure to say yes to every request you get. Learn to say NO and to find a way to schedule time for yourself. Using a day timer or calendar to organize and write down when assignments, tests and games are will allow you to manage your time wisely. You don't want to have to worry about doing the ten page essay after family supper on Sunday night. Talk to your friends, find time to hang out with them away from school or gym. Your friends and family will help you out when you start feeling like everything is too much, keep them close so they are their for you when it happens.
Usually as a teacher you are probably doubling as teacher during the day and coach at night. Be understanding of your student athletes when they let you know they will be away, let them know what work they will miss so they don't fall behind. Students who exercise typically do better in class, help them excel at both school and sport.
Everyone involved in student athletes lives needs to pay attention to how much pressure they are putting them under to complete everything asked up them. We all need to be realistic in our expectations of them and to pay attention to the signs of burn out. If they are getting burnt out, be there for them and help them adjust as need to so they can live that balanced lifestyle where they gain the full benefits of school, sport, family and friends.
Symptoms of Burn Out
low motivation, decreased energy, concentration problems, loss of desire to play, lack of caring, sleep disturbances, physical and mental exhaustion, lowered self-esteem, negative affect, mood changes, substance abuse, change in values and beliefs, increased anxiety, highs and lows.