Top 10 Basic Life Skills That All Student-Athletes Must Learn

Is it hard being a student-athlete? Absolutely. The demands that come from being a student athlete make learning some of the most important basic life skills away from the game extremely difficult. The physical demand from constant practice and mental demand from maintaining grades often makes athletes neglect building important life skills that will serve them well when they become adults.

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This neglect causes parents to pick up the ball and run with it by managing their calendars, making sure they your where they need to be at all times of the day, handling doctors appointments and tutoring sessions, and most of all making sure that their child is never late.

Unfortunately, the constant help that comes from parents and effort to trying to make their athletes life a little less confusing often backfires because these children don’t learn any life skills as they grow into adults. The ”wake up moment” usually occurs in the junior senior year of high school when colleges start showing an interest in recruiting their child.

While it is not the parents fault for their child’s lack of basic life skills, parents can play vital role in properly educating their high school athlete with developing these skills to make their transition into adulthood smoothly. These basic life skills will make their recruiting experience much more enjoyable. And even if they decide not to play sports in college, these 10 basic life skills will prepare them to be a responsible adult.

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So, below is a list of what we deemed as the 10 most important basic life skills that all student-athletes need to develop. In order to become successful student athlete in college and move on you have a successful professional career, grab a pen, jot these down, and start practicing.  If you’re a parent reading this, print these off, sit down with your child, and start taking the steps necessary to develop their ability in these skills.

Top 10 Basic Life Skills For Student-Athletes


1Time Management

If you can’t manage your time you can’t manage yourself. Being a student athlete at the college level is a demanding full-time job both physically and mentally. You will put in more hours practicing and studying in doing anything else during your four years in school. Because of this demanding schedule, you need understand that your success depends on how well you efficiently spend your time each day.

When you are in college the only person you can depend upon is yourself. So, it’s your responsibility to develop necessary basic life skills through managing your time and learn how to prioritize your day. The best way to start is by using a planner that you can refer to so that you can have a snapshot of what your day week and month Will look like ahead.

'Your success is determined by how you spend your time each day.' Click To Tweet

2Money Management

Managing your money is the most important basic life skills that a student-athletes can learn. That’s because when you understand the concept of money and how budgets operate, you are aware of what your actual cash flow is. Just because you earn a partial or full ride scholarship, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have to manage your money. You will need to learn how to properly budget for your personal spending and other responsibilities.  If you are a walk on student-athlete, money management is even more important because you’re paying to go to school on top of these financial responsibilities.

In order to learn how to budget properly for bills, meals, clothing, and other expenditures to make sure that you don’t overspend, we recommend that student-athletes open a personal credit card and connect it to a money management app like Mint.  This will allow the student-athlete to understand the responsibilities of building credit and managing their money while their parents can monitor their spending through the app.

3Updating/Maintaining Vital Documents

Being an adult and doing paperwork go hand in hand. They’re filed under the ‘Basic Life Skills 101’ folder. And when you’re older, you won’t be able to turn to mom and dad to ask them to handle it. It’s a ton of work to scramble and try to find the necessary paperwork for all of the adult things that come with attending college. Things that you need to consider updating and maintaining on a yearly basis are:

  • Updated Resume/CV
  • Credit Card Statements
  • Tax Documents
  • Financial Aid Forms
  • High School Transcripts & Up-to-date grades
  • Social Security Number
  • FAFSA Records
  • Medical Records
  • Dental Records
  • Student Records
  • Awarded Certificates
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • SAT/ACT Scores
  • Notable Accomplishments & Community Service

Is that a lot of information to hold onto? Yes, it can be. But depending on where your life is going to take you professionally, all of these things are vital in speeding up the process of handling the necessary steps to get a job, apply for a personal loan, or buy a house.  You should have three copies of this.  One for the parents, one for the student-athlete, and another copy online in a sharable, secure cloud storage system.

4Writing With Proper Grammar

Student-athletes need to be aware that writing with proper grammar is one of the imperative basic life skills that they will use throughout college and into their professional lives.  If you want to go to college, you need to understand that mom and dad can’t be the ones writing and communicating with coaches, administrators, and other people on your behalf.

Throughout the recruiting process, you will be communicating with college coaches on a regular basis.  While you’re attending college, you will communicate with professors, academic advisors, administrative staff, financial aid officers, athletic aides and directors, landlords, alumni, recruiters – the list goes on and on. The last thing that you want to do while talking to these people is come off as an uneducated person that doesn’t understand basic grammar.  You don’t have to be a literary savant, but you should understand the necessary traits in professional correspondence.

If you want to improve your grammar, we recommend using Grammarly today to start developing your writing skills.  Student-Athletes across the country are using it every day to improve their ability to write. Grammarly is a web extension app that monitors your grammar in real-time. And, Grammarly sends you a weekly progress report to show you how to improve your ability to write.  

5Punctuality

If there is one thing that student-athletes need to learn in terms of their scheduling, they need to be aware of their transportation. Although their travel to away games are taken care of, student-athletes need to understand how to get around campus and properly prepare for the time that it takes to make their daily commute.

Whether it is in their vehicle, via public transportation, or on their bicycle, student-athletes need to be aware of where they’re going and how long it is going to take.  Why is this important? Because college coaches don’t tolerate tardiness. One of the most important basic life skills you can remember is this: If you’re 5 minutes early, you’re 10 minutes late. Prepare for the time that it takes for you to commute accordingly.

'If you’re 5 minutes early, you’re 10 minutes late.'Click To Tweet

6Good Hygiene

It seems like hygiene shouldn’t be on a list of the best life skills that athletes need to learn. However, you would be surprised to see how many student-athletes fail to make the grade when it comes to proper hygiene. Having hygiene that is sub par is not only bad for your health, but it is bad for everyone else’s perception around you.

The last thing you want to be known as is a student-athlete who is stinky, has bad breath and doesn’t brush/floss their teeth, or rarely showers after games and workouts. You need to practice good hygiene every day because it’s paramount to having a successful foundation in life.

You don’t want to be remembered as a sloppy person that lacked the necessary basic life skills because you failed to look professional. Shower regularly, brush your teeth at least twice per day, floss every day, cut your hair and shave your face to a neat and appropriate length, and make sure you dress for the job that you want.

7Being Personable

Being a student-athlete should prepare you to be rock star when it comes to being personable. And being personable means being a great communicator with everyone you come in contact with.  In order to be a great communicator, there are several key basic life skills that you need to be aware of, such as your conversation topics, eye contact and body language, as well as actively listening to the person speaking so that the conversation can carry on.

The amount of people that you will come in contact with in college will trump all of the friends you have in high school. In order to make a good first impression right when you step on campus, you need to make sure that you understand how to be an effective communicator.  Being a personable, likable student-athlete will make your stock rise with everyone on campus, including your coaches, because you will represent your program professionally with integrity.

8Handling Your Own Problems

Mom! Dad!…. Those screams of help will happen again once the student-athletes arrives in college if you have deprived them of basic life skills such as handling their own problems.  Although its not outside of the norm to see family members pitch in with their student-athlete’s problems in high school, it is completely outside of the norm to do it in college. College coaches don’t deal with parents. It’s one of the perks of the job.

And parents need to understand that although they want to help their little student-athlete, they need to back off and let you fight your own battles. If you incapable of finding answers for yourself and your parents step in, your stock will drop significantly in the eyes of coaches and administrators.

At 18 years old, you’re an adult. You need to ask questions yourself and not awkwardly tip toe around it and have your mother call to see whats going on like its 4th grade all over again. You need to grow up, pull your socks up, and learn how to meet confrontation head on.

'Mom and Dad can’t fight your battles anymore. At 18, you're an adult. You have to do it yourself.' - @spongecoachmagClick To Tweet

9Networking and Creating New Relationships

If you go to college and just compete on your team and then rush back to your dorm room to be a hermit crab, you’re completely missing the entire experience of what college is all about. You can be the smartest person in the world and win multiple Academic All-American awards, but if you don’t network and create new relationships with people in college, you’re going to be scrambling when its time for you to get a job.

College is all about meeting new people and connecting. The bigger that you grow your network, the better off you will be down the road as you continue those relationships.

Why do you think that so many people at Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton get such great paying jobs?  Yes, they’re smart. But they are also alumni of those universities.  Alumni take care of each other – especially the successful ones.  When you get to college, you need to sit down with your coaches and ask who you need to start connecting with. Four years is a lot of time to create relationships and networking is one of the most important basic life skills you can develop while you’re there.

10Volunteering

Volunteer? But I don’t have any time as a student-athlete to do my homework, let alone volunteer! When you get to college, you will understand that being a student-athlete requires volunteering. You’re seen as role models in the community and your program is expected to go out and make the world around your school a better place.

Volunteering is one of the most generous basic life skills, along with donating, that you will learn as you grow older. You may visit children’s hospitals, help at charitable causes for underpribileged kids, or make elementary school visits to tell kids to continue to stay in school.  Whatever you do in college for volunteering, you need to understand that actively participating when you volunteer is a great thing on your resume and raises your stock with your coaches.

Most importantly, volunteering is an amazing way to give back to the community and stay humble for the privileged life you have been able to experience.  Even if its just a couple of hours a week, those two hours can inspire kids to want to be just like you and achieve their dreams or help get a hot meal to a family in need. Playing sports is a privilege, but true honor in life comes from helping people out that need help.

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