Coaches and parents alike constantly preach the importance of time management to young athletes as they develop and transition to higher levels of athletics and academics. However, the development of this time management skill is frequently neglected by young athletes during the early stages of their careers. This often results in athletes experiencing the negative impacts of poor time management for a period of time prior to improving and ideally mastering this skill. It should be noted that this skill may never be mastered, but the pursuit of mastering time management should never stop. In this blog, I would like to reiterate the importance of time management, while highlighting critical tools in developing the time management skillset.
I want to reinforce what numerous coaches and parents proclaim to young athletes that time management is an increasingly valuable and beneficial skill during the athletic, academic, and eventually the actual career. I encourage all young athletes to absorb the knowledge being passed from coaches and parents, it continuously provides incredible benefits and insight for the future. As a young athlete transitions from level to level, the ability to manage time, schedule, and prioritize aspects of life becomes critical to the overall success of the individual. There is a direct relationship between athletics, academics, and life outside of the classroom and playing surface. What I mean by this is that as the level of athletic difficulty increases, the level of academic difficulty increases. Additionally, with the increasing difficulty of athletics and academics, life outside of the classroom and sport becomes more demanding. Balancing athletics, academics, family, social life, and other additional responsibilities all becomes increasingly more difficult the higher the level of competition; therefore, resulting in the increased importance of time management.
One tool that any athlete or individual can utilize to improve time management skills is prioritization. According to the Oxford Languages, the definition of prioritization is the action and process of interpreting, and ultimately deciding, the relative importance of everything (Oxford Languages, 2021). Prioritization enables young athletes to understand what is most important to them individually. For athletes, prioritizing their academics in coherence with their athletics becomes a significant aspect of developing time management. The ability to recognize the necessary time spent on academics (time spent: in school, completing homework, studying, and any additional class-related responsibilities) and athletics (time spent in practice, individual player development, strength and conditioning, physical therapy/ treatment, etc.) is significant in prioritization. These aspects require large amounts of time, and it must be understood the demands academics and athletics require. The individual must decide what is ultimately most important. Once aspects of an individual's life have been prioritized, the ability to manage time and these priorities is simplified.
One aspect of time management that directly relates to prioritization is sacrifice. As previously mentioned, when all aspects of life become increasingly more time-consuming and demanding, sacrifices must be made. This is also why prioritization is such an important aspect of time management. It helps determine what is most important, and what can be sacrificed. Each individual will sacrifice different things, but ultimately all will have to sacrifice.
Another tool that athletes can utilize in improving their time management is by developing a routine. Athletes are frequently told by coaches to develop a routine for practice and competition of their respective sport. Athletes have warm-up routines, practice routines, strength and conditioning routines, recovery routines, among many other relatable routines during their athletic careers. This same concept can be transferred from athletics to every aspect of life. Developing an academic routine can provide incredible benefits. For example, during my time as a collegiate athlete, I developed a routine outside of baseball to manage my time and maintain high levels of performance in the classroom. My academic routine consisted of class in the morning, practice in the afternoon into the evenings, finishing with studying/ completion of work post-practice in the evenings. Many of my teammates would utilize a very similar routine for their academic careers. Additionally, I developed a routine for eating and recovery around my athletic and academic routines. Overall, developing routines for every priority will positively impact athletes.
The last tool or skill that will be discussed in improving time management is the ability to adjust. Again, coaches speak at nauseum for players and athletes to make adjustments. This is a critical aspect of improving sports performance, but it can also be used to improve time management as well. As previously mentioned, developing routines is incredibly beneficial in improving time management. However, successful routines are largely dependent on the ability to make adjustments. Again, I will use my experience playing collegiate baseball as an example. I explained a routine for academics in the previous section. However, this routine did not always work exactly how I described it. We would often have practice during the evenings, finishing practice, strength, and conditioning, among other aspects of college baseball, at night. This would simply result in an adjustment to my academic routine. I would alter my routine to finish class in the morning, complete work and studying in the afternoons prior to practice, and finish any necessary work after practice before recovery and sleep. This is just one example of adjustments that must be made to routines to remain high-performing.
Overall, time management is an extremely valuable skill that can ultimately improve an athlete’s performance on and off the playing surface. Prioritization, the development of routines, and the ability to make adjustments (among other tools) all play significant roles in the pursuit of mastering time management.
prioritize. prioritize verb - Definition, pictures, pronunciation and usage notes | Oxford
Advanced Learner's Dictionary at OxfordLearnersDictionaries.com. (n.d.).
Schultz, D. (1970, January 1). 8 ways to take control of your time - from College Board. 8 Ways to Take Control of Your Time - From College Board. http://sasdukes.blogspot.com/2013/01/8-ways-to-take-control-of-your-time.html.