Balancing practice and academics can be a serious challenge. The common challenges include:
- Exhaustion created by practice creating a problem in studying.
- Scheduling classes to meet practice commitments.
- Dealing with the emotional consequences of a bad practice.
- Meeting the coach’s expectations for extra effort outside of the official practice time.
- Managing practice commitments during a heavy test week.
Here are some ideas for managing the conflicting demands of practice and academics.
- Find an academic advisor who can help you schedule classes that are compatible with athletics. This includes:
- Recommendations on the semesters to take tough classes.
- Recommendations on the time of day to take specific classes to deal with the exhaustion factor from practice (especially for morning classes).
- Develop a coping strategy to deal with emotions of a bad practice. Strategies that work include:
- Conclude each practice by writing down your thoughts about what you can do to improve. Writing down your thoughts can often release the emotion so you can focus on classes.
- Accept the fact that your coach’s criticism is something that will prepare you for a future career. No matter the career you have, you will need to deal with criticism.
- Give your full effort in practice. This can build trust with your coach and minimize your coach’s expectations for informal “off-the-books” practice that many coaches expect.
- Let your coach know when you have a heavy test week. If you have built respect with your coach, you may be able to skip some parts of practice.
Coaches can lose all perspective when it comes to practice. You will need to earn your coach’s confidence in your dedication, but you don’t want to let unreasonable expectations ruin your academic record. Should you have an unreasonable coach, you may eventually need to talk to someone. Many athletic programs have an ombudsman who helps student athletes deal with unreasonable expectations.