With school starting up again, now is a good time to talk about the importance of understanding the term student athlete and some tips on how to excel as one. The term student athlete is typically associated with an athlete who competes for his or her school, but it can really be used for any student who participates on any team (recreational, club, academy, etc.). The key point for an athlete to realize is the order of the words in the term: student first, athlete second. While it is great for athletes to have the goal of playing their sport professionally, the odds of this are very slim. According to the NCAA, only 2% of NCAA student athletes go on to play professionally. With practices and competitions often taking up a good amount of an athlete’s time, they need to understand that their academics are equally as important, if not more important, than their sport. Therefore, here are a few tips for any student-athlete to adopt to ensure they make the most out of their academic and playing experiences.

  • Set weekly schedules. By mapping out when you can and will complete assignments during the week, you will ensure that you get them done on time.
  • Reward yourself. Whether you do well on a test or have a strong practice or match, be sure to reward yourself. Rewarding yourself will increase your motivation to continue doing well.
  • Have an end goal. Having an end goal in mind will keep you on track with everything you are doing. If what you are doing isn’t going to help you reach your end goal, then don’t do it.
  • And remember that you are a student first, athlete second. Even if you are the lucky 2% who makes it to the professional level, you will only be playing for so long. The knowledge you learn as a student is just as important as the lessons you learn as an athlete. Find a good balance and be the best you can be at both.

Tim Kilpatrick is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and former student athlete at Compete Sport Performance and Rehab in Lake Forest, CA.