Beyond Athletics

Can Being a Student-Athlete Become Too Demanding?

girl works through how stress can help athletes
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(Flickr – Ashley Campbell)

Student-athletes are one of a kind. From a strong work ethic, to good time management, stamina and focus, being a student-athlete develops – and requires – a unique skill set.

And while so many parents, teachers, and coaches do their best to support the student-athletes in their life, are there times when the life of a student-athlete is simply too demanding?

As someone who’s been a student-athlete and around sports my whole life, it’s an idea I’ve thought about but have never spent too much time dwelling on.

As a student-athlete, you kind of learn to just get done what you need to get done and find a way to make it all work. But — yeah, there are times when it gets a little overwhelming, aren’t there?

Here are some tips to keep from feeling overwhelmed.

Each individual student-athlete is different.

In speaking with parents and professionals to dig deeper into this, one point is abundantly clear: the level of demand that a student-athlete can fulfill really varies from player to player.

While there is a base level of commitment and demand required by all student-athletes, there are some levels that certain student-athletes can attain and keep up with, and certain levels others simply can’t.

And that’s okay.

The trick is making sure you’re in the right situation for you. There is a fine line between being pushed hard enough to achieve at a higher level, and being pushed over the edge.

Making sure your heart is in it is the first step to handling the demand, because without the desire, very little will follow, or at the very least, sustain for long.

There is a difference between a lot of work and too much pressure.

This isn’t always an easy realization to come to, especially as a parent or coach. There is a big difference between having a big workload as a student-athlete and having a lot of pressure put on you as a student-athlete.

For most student-athletes, a workload larger than most other kids is pretty much inevitable. Between school, practice, games, travel, tests, papers, clinics, etc. there’s just a lot going on.

What parents and other professionals need to keep on their radar is whether their student-athlete(s) is feeling overwhelmed by all the tasks at hand, or the pressure to perform those tasks by a certain level or standard.

A full plate is one thing. Anxiety and stress brought on by the people who are supposed to be a support team, (no matter the intent), is another.

Stay in touch with yourself.

While it’s important for those men and women raising and coaching student-athletes to be aware of the work and, many times, pressure that it takes to keep up with the high demands of participating in sports while in school, it’s also up to the student-athlete to stay in touch with themselves.

As you mature and learn more about the many, many experiences and activities life has to offer, staying true to who you are, what you want to accomplish, and the load that you can handle is not just going to be what gets you through high school, college, and beyond. It’s going to shape your level of happiness and enjoyment in life.

If you feel like the pressure – or workload – is keeping you underwater, talk to somebody.

You’re already doing much more than the average student, and the adults around you are aware of that. Push yourself, stay in it because you love it, and find the right balance for you.


Our goal at NCSA Athletic Recruiting is to help take some of the burden of recruiting off you. Our scouts can guide you through the path, and our digital platform can help you connect with coaches in one place. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

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About the author
Laura Chmiel

Laura Chmiel is a marketing coordinator and a lead writer for NCSA Athletic Recruiting. As someone with a passion for athletics and education, she graduated from Indiana university with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After school, she gained first-hand experience helping student-athletes and their families get to college.