Pains of Being a Student Athlete
The life of being a future health professional, is a life of time management skills, goal setting, tons of studying, partaking in career advancement opportunities like HOSA, and overall a lot to handle. Then add in being a student-athlete, and the game only gets more complicated. Being a student-athlete, it is vital to remember that a student comes before an athlete. I’m sure that you’ve heard that before, and while it may be cheesy, it’s important. Committing to being a student-athlete is quite a bit larger than most assume, especially if you are in any advanced classes, other extracurriculars, at-home responsibilities, or even a job. Personally, I have experienced trying to have it, and while it was extremely difficult at times, if it’s what you truly desire, then it is possible. Although before committing to adding a sport or another program to your plate consider how the change impacts your daily life, and overall health.
The first factor to consider is scheduling and time management. How many hours a week are you committing? You need to think realistically about if you truly want to spend the asked amount of time putting in physical and mental work. The large majority of middle school and high school sports have practice and or games 5-6 days a week, if not at least 3-4. For many that are a larger commitment than getting a part-time job. While you may not be at practice or games as long as you would be at work, partaking in sport involves the same mental capacity as attending typical jobs, if not more in some instances, and occurs daily. Will you be sacrificing another activity to do this one? If you are someone with a lot of at-home responsibilities or a job, you need to make sure you aren't sacrificing your school or other necessary tasks. Will you have any time to be just a human? It’s also important to not book yourself up for every second of the day, every day of the week. You need time to decompress, see friends and family and take time for your brain to not be going full speed. Otherwise, you risk extreme burnout, and could potentially get very overwhelmed. Is the commitment something you have time for.
The second factor to consider is transportation. How will you be getting to and from sporting events? If you have a license this may seem easy, but can you afford to drive yourself everywhere? If you don’t have a license but you are thinking, “my parents take me everywhere”. Have they agreed, and if so do you believe it’s always a fair ask? If so awesome, and you're all set, if not consider asking others that plan to play if you could potentially carpool. It may not be a permanent solution but it may lighten up the load enough for the caregiver to assist or enough players on the team will be willing to take turns. Personally, as the daughter of a single mom nurse, I had to carpool a lot, and a lot more people are willing than you may initially think. Attempt to have a weekly set up for transportation so you are scattered for a ride the day of.
The third factor I advise you to consider is the potential physical strain. Especially if you are starting a new sport, or just adding significantly more physical activity to your life. I know when I became a cheerleader I did not expect the level of soreness I would feel in my shoulder the morning after practice. I also remember coming home from 3:30-5:30 dive practices exhausted and ready for bed, but I still needed to eat dinner, take a shower, read 3 chapters of a book, do math homework, and study Spanish 3 honors for several hours. Meaning I was not going to be able to even look at my bed until at least midnight. When you are moving around constantly it can be easy to forget to get three good meals in and keep up with proper water intake. Adding lack of sleep, an improper diet, or dehydration to sore muscles, you'll begin to feel the physical toll on your body and even your mind. Being a student-athlete requires that you take even better care of your body and mind.
When deciding to play a sport many only typically consider a few of the important factors. Some students may be choosing to play a sport because they have been for a long time and feel they are expected to keep playing or feel the sport is part of their identity. Others may be choosing to try something new, or retry sports they’ve done in the past. No matter the case it is still important to consider how playing the sport, or sports is going to impact you this season specifically. In life the only thing that stays constant is change, so expecting the same conditions of a previous season to be identical to the next may be slightly naive. Of course, the commitment to the sport or activity depends on the specific sport or level you partake in, heavily to consider each of the mentioned factors.