5 Ways Coaches Can Help Their Student Athletes in the Classroom - by Sarah Daren

From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
"Helping coaches coach better..."
Sarah Daren is a featured writer on the Today Show website and has been a consultant for organizations across a number of industries including athletics, health and wellness, technology and education. When she's not caring for her children or watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.

Sarah Daren
Sarah Daren

Student athletes have to juggle two major responsibilities that can often feel at odds: academics and athletics. Most students who are heavily involved in sports would prefer to spend more time developing their athletic skills than focusing on their studies, which can sometimes become a problem for their grades in the long term.

Coaches are important influences in their players' lives. They need to help students balance their dual responsibilities and emphasize the importance of academics for their students' futures. Even if a student does go on to become a professional athlete, chances are good that they will need a solid academic record in one way or another.

student athletes

Here are 5 ways coaches can help their student athletes achieve in the classroom.

Teach Effective Time Management Strategies

Students often struggle with time management, especially when they have lots of extracurricular activities and sports to factor in. Skills like time-blocking, which provides a specific plan and visualization, can help students be more realistic about how much time they will need for studying, practice, games, and rest.

It's also important for students to learn how to set academic priorities for effective time management. Coaches can encourage students to keep a to-do list, set reminders, and use website blockers to help them reduce distractions when studying. Different athletes will need different strategies and a good coach can help them identify what works best.

Create a Culture of Academic Support & Success

Although coaches understandably emphasize a student's athletic efforts, putting no emphasis on academics can make them seem less important than they are. A coach needs to not only encourage athletes to make schoolwork a priority but also create a culture of academic support and success within the team environment.

So, what might this look like? It might involve being more flexible about scheduling to allow students more time to study, providing educational resources, facilitating study groups and mentorship, and celebrating academic successes as a team. There are many ways to create this kind of supportive culture that will help student athletes thrive academically.

Build Personalized Goal Plans

Having both academic and athletic goals is important for student athletes. It can help them define their priorities and set them up to value their academic successes alongside their athletic triumphs. Coaches can help players create personalized goal plans that keep them motivated and inspired throughout the school year. These plans can be adjusted as needed to help keep student athletes moving forward.

Understand & Leverage Different Learning Styles

Coaches have a similar role to teachers- they need to help their students learn new information and methods of problem-solving. Not every student has the same learning style, however, and coaches need to understand the different methods and mediums used in modern teaching.

Identifying a student's learning style can take some trial and error, but it's well worth the effort. Coaches can use that information in athletic training and when directing students to the best academic resources for their needs. Adapting coaching and teaching approaches in this way will lead to better outcomes overall.

Promote Better Mental and Emotional Well-Being

Students who participate in competitive sports have busy and hectic lives. Frequently, they don't practice enough self-care and end up overly stressed and burned out. Maintaining good mental health and emotional well-being is critical for both academic and athletic performance.

Coaches can help promote mental and emotional well-being in many ways, such as by leading students in practices like deep breathing and yoga. They can also help by emphasizing proper rest, diet, and decompression activities. These kinds of stress management techniques can help students improve their outlook and boost their academic achievement.

Remember: Coaches Have Influence!

coach and mentor

A coach who has built trust among their student athletes can be a powerful force for good in players' lives. Players look to their coaches for guidance and will follow their lead. Encouraging students to take their studies seriously helps to set themselves up for success in the future!

Articles by Sarah Daren