Middle and high school students who are developing a talent or interest in athletics or other competitive pursuits face many challenges in balancing their schedules between athletic goals and academics. Overtraining and burnout can even impact your child’s mental health. How can parents better support their student athletes and their academic performance?
Research into the challenges of athletes and their academic success has identified the major stressors that can affect the mental health of student athletes and stand in the way of their goals. Some of these are1:
With many high-performing student athletes spending 20 or more hours per week in practice, competition, or training, learning to balance other priorities is difficult for young people. The very drive to succeed that fuels their passion for athletics can lead them to be very critical of themselves for slipping grades or low-ranking performances. Caught between these two powerful motivations, students need support from parents and educators to learn the skills of time management and life balance.
Parents can help their student find a healthy balance between schoolwork and practice by encouraging and recognizing success in both areas. Not only can parents and athletes celebrate wins on the competitive field but those in the classroom as well. Showing your child that you value both kinds of accomplishments helps them feel motivated to find the necessary balance.
The art and science of finding that balance is organization and time management. These essential life skills are still being developed in teens and young adults, but this is also a great phase of life to establish the habits of success. Help your child create a schedule that allows time for schoolwork, practice, travel for competitions, social activities, and sleep. The more flexible their school can be in scheduling and deadlines, the easier it will be for the student athlete to prioritize their efforts and manage their time effectively.
Setting realistic athletic goals for students that reduce the pressure to perform is one way that parents can help reduce the amount of stress that student athletes face. Coaches and peers might be constantly pushing them to be stronger, faster, and more accurate, but this can lead to burnout that bleeds over into their academic life. Encourage your teen athlete to take some unscheduled time to rest and recover, pursue other interests, and blow off steam.
Lack of support systems was called out by researchers as the primary risk factor for student burnout and failing academic performance.1 Parents and teachers can help students balance athletic goals with a healthy dedication to self-care and academic performance as well.
Some of the best recommendations to support mental health for student athletes include:
Some schools are very supportive of student athletes and will be open to working through scheduling challenges and conflicting priorities. Encourage your student to communicate openly with their teachers when they need extra time, extra attention, or face an unsolvable scheduling conflict.
Self-advocacy is an important skill to let them develop, but if they are not receiving the support they need at school, it may be time to consider another approach to education that values the passion and drive of your unique student.
If you and your child are often running into unsolvable conflicts between classroom commitments and athletic support, you may want to consider switching schools to one that offers more individualized attention and support to their students.
Finding a private school with flexible schedule options, rolling enrollment, and a true desire to support your child’s passion for competition and personal achievement can make both athletics and academics easier and more rewarding for your child. By expanding the educational options for your family, you can change the playing field for your student athlete and help them shine in both arenas.
At Lydian Academy, we offer student athletes the support and flexibility they want to reach greater heights in the classroom and in competition. Whether your student is on the path to college sports, Olympic training, debate, or performance art, our private middle and high schools are designed to foster and celebrate your child’s passion for learning and competition.
All of our classes are one-to-one and focus fully on the student’s individual mastery of the materials. We can shift teaching styles, formats, and schedules to accommodate the most demanding time constraints, and offer tutoring, AP, Early College High School, and many other tools to promote your child’s success in all areas. There is no private school better suited to the needs of parents and athletes that want to achieve great things in all aspects of life.
We support student athletes and academic performance with collaborative efforts and encouragement at every level. With the ability to schedule around competitions, performances, and practice times, we empower our students to manage their time and balance their priorities. Students can attend on-campus classes in Menlo Park or Burlingame, or stay up to speed with virtual learning options wherever their passions might take them.
Enroll today or schedule a virtual open house or campus tour to learn more about one of the best ways to support your student athlete to a successful future.