Imagine your life organized into different buckets. There is a bucket designated for school, sport, friends, alone time, family time, and so on. Think about your life buckets now and visualize each one filled corresponding to how much of your time is devoted to each. Now think about your life last year or five years ago and do the same. Do your buckets stay the same or have some changed in level? I think it is safe to say, in one way or another, each individual and their life buckets are in a constant ebb and flow depending on the phase in one's life.
With that being said, asking your athletes to virtually fill their buckets in correspondence with their priorities and goals. Explaining to them that there is always room to add and subtract from each depending on the phase or situation.
Let’s say there is a big test coming up in the next week and it is causing some stress and anxiety because they need to do well on the test but also want to attend all practice opportunities during the week AND spend the weekend out with friends.
Although we all wish there were more hours in the day, something's got to give and taking away from the sleep bucket seems to be the first answer but please please please, as parents and coaches, it is SO important to encourage getting enough sleep. The recommended amount of sleep is 8 to 10 hours. (source)
SO, which buckets will get more attention than the others?
This is the conversation and decision process that will have to be thought out by your athlete. With a big event coming up, such as a test, a great point of discussion to make is how one week of time management may look a little different from the next and that is OK. It is excellent. Buckling down and grinding out some solid study time over one weekend to feel confident coming into a test, passing the test, feeling proud of the result, and then getting out with friends the next weekend would be a great success.
It is extraordinary to witness some youth athletes who can’t stand the thought of missing practice, trust us, we have been there. The ambition is amazing and should always be encouraged. Realistically, the idea of lost progress or whatever other worry comes into an athlete's mind from missing a couple of practices during a week is truly going to benefit them without them realizing it. Missing a practice or two to make time for studying, sleep, and some social time will reap so many benefits that will reignite and recharge them for the next practice.
Relaying the message of the only true growth and adaptation to stress happens during RECOVERY.
The tricky part here is missing a practice to then replace it with another form of stress, like studying. Studying with a friend who is able to separate socializing with some productive work may be a great occasional substitute for solo study sessions. That way your athlete feels like they are not in it alone and teaming up with a friend to get the job done can make all the difference.
Is it school and sport?
Whatever the decision is. Decide what’s important to you and be ready to stick to your word and COMMIT.
Have ways to relax and unwind, like talking on the phone or playing a video game with a friend but allow this time to be a reward for putting in the work.
Being a student-athlete means there are going to have to be some sacrifices.
Of course, make time for fun! But be prepared to skip the night out at the movies with friends to get work done or miss the big concert for practice.
With ENDLESS distractions, especially on our devices, do what is necessary for some self-control on being able to stay focused on homework. If that means leaving the phone in the other room, great!
Your time is valuable, so use it wisely.
Eliminating distractions yet seek out those who help. It’s always nice to feel like a task is a team effort, study with a friend or teammate who has the same goals.
Strength in numbers!
Being a high school student and an athlete is tough...and it continues to be this way into college athletics too. Taking a step back to reevaluate those life buckets is encouraged.
Feel the need for a change? Make it happen.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a step down from Varsity for a season to fill some other buckets that will fulfill and recharge you.
Remember, the priorities are yours to set.
This blog was originally published by RISE Athletes.
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