Role Reversal: Can being a better student translate into a better athlete?

The correlation of athletic participation driving academic success has been highly publicized. It has been proven time and time again that high school student-athletes, as a whole, are more successful in the classroom than their non-sport counterparts. For the vast majority, this is not news. You’ve heard this over and over again; athletic participation prepares you for success in life and specifically success in the classroom. So what? This is good information, but as someone who is already an athlete, there is no action step other than continuing to pursue excellence on the field.

I have rarely heard the correlation go the other direction: being a better student drives a better athlete. I truly feel there is a synergistic relationship between discipline in the classroom driving success on the field. Notice I used the word discipline rather than success in reference to academics. Success is relative to the person. Not everyone is going to pull a 4.0. Discipline relates to effort and work ethic. Working hard at your academics will naturally spill over into how you prepare yourself for competition. Only you can really know if the effort you put into your academics is pushing yourself and creating good habits that carry over into your athletics.

If you are serious about maximizing your potential on the field, strongly consider the following. Next time you get that urge to say, “Ah that’s good enough” or “I’ll do that later” with your school work, know that will begin to seep into your attitudes and actions in sport. Discipline in one area of your life carries over positively into others. Lack of discipline, conversely, has a similar effect in the wrong direction.

Note: I chose to focus on how academics relates to sports. This by no means is the only or most important benefit to academic discipline, but one that I feel is less publicized. Academic discipline is the driver of so many things.

Here are just a few other reasons to step up your game in the classroom:

  1. Academic scholarships – Treat school like your job. You are much more likely to be compensated for your academic success than your athletic achievements. Everyone seeks the athletic scholarship. They are attainable but elusive.
  2. Career after sports – Everyone plays their last play someday. The odds say it will be sooner rather than later. Are you setting yourself up for long-term success?
  3. Financial success – Another strong Higher education and success in academics directly relates to financial success.
  4. Mental Health – Academic success correlates to higher self-esteem and lower risk for depression and anxiety.
  5. Pass on your academic attitudes to your children – I know you’re not thinking about this now, but passing on an educational heritage will be very important if and when you have children of your own.
  6. Develop self-discipline – School is not always fun or easy but truly working at it will develop a quality you will not regret.

So what do you choose? Skate by in the classroom or put your nose to the grindstone and be disciplined in your academics and athletics? It may be harder. There is no easy way around it. Discipline is not easy, but it is essential if you truly want to maximize your talents on and off the field.

Posted in Academic, Goals

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