Beyond Athletics

What You Need To Do To Balance Athletics And Life

talking to each other about athletes leaving their comfort zone

(Flickr – Pedro Ribeiro Simoes)

Having the opportunity to participate in sports as a student-athlete, at any level, is a true gift.

It’s also a total roller coaster! There are hard days, happy days, long days, proud days, blood, sweat, tears, and so much in between. And it all comes with an immense amount of pressure, whether it be pressure from your parents, your coach, your teachers, your teammates or, sometimes hardest of all, the pressure you put on yourself.

Grades are important. Practice is important. Character is important. Relationships are important. Sleep is important.

How can a student-athlete do it all, and stay sane at the end of the day? This may sound funny, but to balance athletics and life my answer is: put more on your plate.

Put effort into things you love to do outside of your sport.

There was a segment on the Today Show recently about people who left their lucrative, stable, “safe” jobs to pursue something that really made them happy. One CEO started an organic farm with his family. One woman left her career in business to begin a career as a yoga instructor.

Everyone featured offered the same lesson: following your passion and what matters most to you will never, ever lead you astray. That is where your happiness lies.

For most of us, that passion and happiness lies in playing sports. But much like those of us already in the professional world striving to find work-life balance, finding sport-life balance is vital to your love for the game.

And getting this balance means hanging up the cleats or the running shoes every now and then, or taking of the “recruit” or “prospect” hat off, and making time for things you love outside of your sport. Maybe it’s painting, playing guitar, going to the movies, cooking, yoga, or working on your car.

While keeping your eye on the ball, (no pun intended), when it comes to your fitness and recruitment is very important, fulfilling other talents and interests is very important, too – and it will make you happier, which translates to a better you, which ends in more success down the road, both in sports and beyond.

Play more than one sport

You might be thinking, “Wait. I’m supposed to create a sport-life balance by…playing multiple sports? This doesn’t make sense.”

And at first glance, no, no it doesn’t. However, playing multiple sports can have positive effects similar to those of finding things outside your sport that you like to do, in that, it mixes things up! It keeps you in shape and on your toes, just in a different way, and can do wonders for you both mentally and athletically.

Take the US Women’s Soccer Team. You know, the World Cup Champions? An overwhelming number of these women attribute their success on the soccer field to one thing: playing multiple sports growing up. Abby Wambach heads the ball better than anyone in the world, a skill she credits to rebounding in basketball throughout grade school and high school. She also made a perfectly articulated point regarding how playing multiple sports helped her not get burned out on one or the other: “Having the ability to play basketball for a bit throughout the year gave me the chance to crave soccer, to miss it.”

This is a hot topic, and something we’ve talked a lot about in the past, but it seems as though we continually find myth busters, especially among some of the world’s most successful athletes, when it comes to specializing. Changing your game can literally change your game.


If you’re looking for more ways you can work on balancing your athletics with the rest of your life, our scouts — most of whom were college athletes, themselves — can help. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

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.