Being a student athlete is an invaluable experience. Athletes are hard-working, focused, and driven to be the best players that they can be. These skills are what make student athletes so desirable to job recruiters. One thing they don’t tell you is that being a student athlete doesn’t necessarily teach you how to manage your own time once you don’t have a coach telling you what to do and where to be.
Student athletes graduate knowing how to show up on time, but that doesn’t mean that they know how to make their own schedule. The day of a student athlete is mapped out from 6 am to 9 pm. Practice or a game is the focal point of the day with everything else placed strategically around it. Being a student athlete means you don’t choose when you do even the most mundane tasks such as eating, sleeping, or homework. Eating should be done 2 hours before practice, and there is a suggested list of foods you should be consuming. Throughout the day there are protein shakes and calorie bars to keep the athlete’s body fueled for his or her next time playing. In order to make sure that athletes are eating when and what the coaches want them to be eating, certain teams have designated meal times with their coaching staff throughout the day. Many teams also have a curfew to ensure that their players are staying out of trouble and getting enough rest.
When it comes to schoolwork, this is where the school’s management of time for the student athlete becomes very stringent. Since a student can only play if he or she is passing, 2-4 hours a day are allotted for tutoring sessions, study hall, and student-athlete development meetings. Many students will have to spend 3-5 hours at study hall in order to get all of their work done, however there is a mandatory minimum amount of time that can be spent studying each day. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for a student athlete to sleep, play, do their work, have friends, and have an extra curricular hobby. Playing and doing schoolwork get prioritized, and everything else falls to the wayside with up to 8 hours a day going to schoolwork and practice (not inclusive of the classes themselves). While the day of a student athlete is certainly packed, the athletes themselves are not required to plan a single thing. They are told when and where to be, and they aren’t given flexibility to determine their own schedule.
One major difference between time management in college as opposed to young adult life is that if you don’t abide by your schedule in college, it’s likely a coach will come find you. Players typically live with teammates, and coaches know where their players live. If a player doesn’t show up for practice or a class, there will be direct consequences that directly impact playing time or number of hours that have to be spent in study hall. In adult life, there will certainly be consequences if you don’t show up to work one day, but no one is going to come knock down your door to make sure you are okay and ask why you didn’t show up.
The consequences of not showing up to work are vastly different than not showing up to practice. Depending upon your job, not showing up will likely impact a team of people. The difference is that, as a young adult, you are the lowest man on the totem pole. You could be an 18-year-old All American who gets away with more than others on your team because at the end of the day, the team’s success ride’s on you. In your working life as a post-grad, nothing but time and hard work can make you an invaluable asset to a company. Not showing up could definitely harm a team, but at the end of the day, it will harm your personal career development more.
Because student athletes are busier than the typical college student, they are well equipped to balance various responsibilities and to work long hours. Free time is not common as a student athlete, so many don’t know what to do with it once they graduate. As a young professional, student athletes are known to dive into their work as they did their sports, which is why they are so appealing to employers. However, student athletes may not be as able to productively fill free time, given it is not something they have ever had to do before.
Because student athletes have every hour of the day planned by their coaching staff, they are experts at arriving on time, but some student athletes have to learn time management after college as opposed to in college. Non-Student athletes have up to 8 hours a day of unplanned time to fill with clubs, internships, and jobs. Being a student athlete is such a time commitment, that many people forget to realize that this doesn’t mean they are getting the skills they need to actually plan their own time. Time management during school and as a young professional are two very different things for student athletes. Student athletes will show up to work unfailingly and on time, but their ability to plan out their weekend may take a few months before they get the hang of it!