7 time management skills for student athletes

Mention the words time management to athletes and watch them cringe. Every single one of them knows that they have to manage their time better than they currently do, but so many of them fail to do so.

Why is that?

Because time management is hard.  There are distractions all around athletes that are begging for their attention every day.  They want to check their Instagram and see what’s new on Twitter. But they can’t do that before they update their Apple Music or Spotify playlist for the gym. Oh look, its a text – time to send one back.  Maybe they’ll just surf Facebook for a quick five minutes to see what everyone is talking about.

And, that’s just dealing with electronics.  We’re not counting classes, practice, film session, treatment, homework, chores, or anything else.  Those things add up quickly.  And when you put pencil to paper, you can see that time management plays a massive role into how productive you are on a daily basis.

Athletic and Academic Commitment

Being a student-athlete is a full-time job. And, if you’re ever luck enough to play in college, its even more of a demand.  According to the NCAA, a survey of more than 20,000 student athletes revealed just how much time athletes were spending on their athletic endeavors each week during their season.

Division I Division II Division III
Hours Per Week 36.6 hours 33 hours 29.5 hours


So, if you’re a Division I athlete, you’re going to be spending the same amount of time practicing and fulfilling your athletic duties as someone that holds a full-time job. If you happen to become a Division III athlete, you’re not much farther behind either with averaging almost 30 hours per week in season.

Seems like a lot of time right? Well, it is.  That’s the reason why there’s a ton of value for athletic scholarships today.  Not everybody has the discipline or work ethic to stay on track and be responsible towards their duties.  And, its not like you can just choose to work when you want to.  Below is just a simple list of commitments and activities that student-athletes participate actively in while they’re in college.

  • Games
  • Practices
  • Team Workouts
  • Additional Workouts
  • Chalk Talk
  • Game Film Review
  • Positional Meetings
  • Academic Meetings
  • Group Academic Projects
  • Recruiting Weekends
  • Local Community Service Appearances
  • Media & Publicity Events
  • Compliance Meetings
  • Guidance Counselor Meetings
  • Academic Commitment

Not only do you have to do all of those things listed above, but you also have to go to school on top of that.  On average per week, student-athletes are in class:

Division I Division II Division III
Hours Per Week 38.5 hours 38.5 hours 40.5 hours


When you take a look at the numbers, you can spend up to 80 hours per week balancing your athletics and academics.  It’s not a task for everyone. Although it seems like a monumental task to achieve, you can make it all work for you as long as you have the time management skills that enhance your productivity and keep you on task towards completing your work both on the field and in the classroom.

What does all of this mean for you?

Well, one thing is for certain: You need to get your time management skills in place or you’re going to be treading water, and trying to stay afloat the entire time that you are in college. Between you games, practices, lifting sessions, chalk talk, video analysis, and physical treatment, you don’t have a lot of time in college to be messing around.  So, we’ve created a list of 7 time management tips for athletes to help you tackle your commitments realistically and give yourself the ample time necessary to complete your academic and athletic duties.

7 Time Management Tips To Help You Balance Life As A Student Athlete

1It’s all about the habits you develop

Athletes are creatures of habits and routines.  Everything that athletes do is regimented and scheduled – its why you practice every day. In order to make the most of your time, you have to develop the habits that allow you to do so.  For example, practicing your reading and writing skills allow you to complete your work more efficiently, which in turn alllow you to maximize your time. As the competition heats up on the field in college, you have to iunderstand that the competition in the classroom will heat up as well. Don’t expect to have success in the classroom if all you do is crack open your books so that you can get your work done.  In college, the quality of the work that you do is just as important as finishing it.  Just finishing your work won’t put you on the dean’s list.

2Don’t Procrastinate

At the beginning of every semester, you will receive a syllabus for each of your classes and be informed about important due dates, projects, tests, and quizzes. Your syllabus should be a reminder that failing to prepare is preparing to fail.  Don’t make the mistake and wait to start a project the week that it is due.  This isn’t high school anymore.  Your work will suffer, you will stay up all night trying to get things done, and your performance in your sport will diminish as well.

Related: 5 Reasons Why You’re Not Being Recruited By College Coaches

When you procrastinate, you’re creating a habit of waiting until the last minute to get things completed.  That is not a desirable skill to have when you enter the workforce as an adult, let alone in college. Carve out chunks of time every day in order to chip away at your work, especially when it comes to large projects.  That way, when it comes down to the deadline, you will have all of the work done and won’t be stressed about trying to meet deadlines.

3Make The Most Of Your Down Time

Some of the best academically performing student-athletes use all of their down time to get their work completed.  If you can teach yourself to do this, it will be the most important time management tips you can learn that will serve you throughout your entire life.  Instead of waiting to have to be at home, at your desk, with your pencils sharpened and atmosphere quiet, you can chip away at your work now more than ever.

There are a significant amount of teams that have lengthy travel trips for games. For example, instead of watching a movie on a bus ride to an away game, you can study or write a paper on your laptop. However, the hardest thing that you’re going to have to fight is your teammates wanting to talk and socialize instead of completing their work that’s due.  You have to find a way to isolate yourself for a certain period of time so that you can complete your work accordingly. Even if you can get 45 minutes of work done on a 2.5 hour bus ride, that’s 90 minutes of total work finished by the time you head to the game and come back.  Not too shabby.

4Don’t Waste Your Sundays

When you’re a student-athlete, you can’t adopt the mentality of “Sunday Funday”.  The Sunday Funday mentality is where you sleep in, sit around like a bump on a log and watch TV or play video games, and then socialize a little with your roommates or teammates all day. This usually happens because your teammates are tired from the team workouts and games that you had from the previous week, and all they want to do is lay around.

Although it sounds nice, that scenario is going to present itself to you quite often throughout your four years in college. One of the best time management tips you can learn is to not waste your Sundays. Over the course of one month, its more than 30+ hours of opportunity to be able to get your work done. Too many student-athletes think that Sunday is a day to rest and kick back.  It can be, but understand that your choice to make your Sundays lazy come with consequences.

5Effective Time Management Starts By Prioritizing and Eating The Frog

No, you don’t have to eat a real frog. It’s a metaphor for tackling your hardest tasks first so that you have the rest of your day to have purposeful progress. When you avoid your hardest tasks and put them on the back burner, they tend to float over your head like a massive cloud because you know in the back of your mind that you’re going to have to do them later. An effective and efficient student-athlete with the right time management skills will “eat the frog” aka “do the hardest task” first thing in the morning so that they can check it off of the list.

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

If you have ten things to accomplish, then make sure that you prioritize them by importance and their deadline. Chances are that all of your tasks aren’t extremely urgent, so its important to have them ranked down on a list so that you can stay focused and manage your time effectively. Each night before you go to bed, you should have a list of things that you need to do the next day completed and ready to go with the most important task at the top. This is one of the most underrated time management skills you can possess.  It allows you to wake up fresh, see your objectives clearly, and take action towards achieving them right when you wake up.

6Cut Out The Electronics

Are you in school to play video games, scroll through Twitter and watch TV?  Or are you there to receive an education and become a better athlete?

Electronics are the biggest time waster that athletes interact with on a daily basis, and they’re terrible to your progress in creating habits that develop effective time management skills.  In order to maximize the time of your day, you have to minimize the amount of time you spend using electronics for leisure. Nothing on Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, PS4, or Xbox is allowing you to become a better student or a better athlete, so you need to monitor the time that you spend using electronics on a daily basis.

Now, its different if you’re using them to get work done – That’s a completely different story.  You just need to make sure that playing FIFA or Madden, checking to see what Miley Cyrus is tweeting, or checking in to watch the latest viral videos isn’t taking you away from your free time to get some work done.  Wasting your time away on social media isn’t going to help you develop the right time management skills you need in order to be a successful athlete.  On average, teenagers spend more than 5 hours per day on their smartphone. Just add that up over the course of four years and you have more than 300 days – almost one year – wasted in college.

7Choose A Study Teammate (Only If They Have Good Habits)

Life is always a little easier when you have the support of those around you.  The same rule applies to applying your time management skills to your daily life. So, you should think about taking action towards having a study partner that shares the same classes with you. When you play on a team as a student-athlete, odds are that you are going to have at least a couple of teammates that are in multiple classes with you taking the same major.

You should huddle up with your teammates and use each other as support to keep everyone on task.  However, you need to be aware that not all teammates are good study partners, so choose wisely. Bad study partners will continually blow off study sessions, ask for the answers to their work, and goof off during study hours.  If that happens to become your scenario, just keep going forward with the teammates that are focused alongside you and don’t waste any energy on your other teammate’s lack of discipline.

Apply these 7 important time management skills today so that you can start preparing yourself to be a successful student-athlete in the near future. Just like dribbling, shooting, passing, or putting, time management skills are a learned trait.

The more that you practice them, the more natural they will feel and eventually become a part of your character. If followed, each one of these time management skills will play a vital role in your success as both a student and an athlete.

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