I recently hosted a workshop with a group of young women in sport via zoom.
The luxury about online availability and accessibility is that you can reach people far and wide and still be helpful.
During this call, I had asked the intimate group what some of their struggles were in managing themselves in sport.
Their answer was not knowing how to balance both.
"How do I balance both my sport and my personal life?"
I was bit taken aback because these young women were between ages 10 and 15, which most children at that age have a wide range of other things they are into beside their single sport.
However, from the sounds of it, regardless of other activities, their sport is currently a major part of their lives and already, pre junior year in high school, they are feeling the pressure.
I am thankful that I will continue to work with these athletes over the course of the next few months so that we can work together to establish a balance that works for them individually. However, it got me thinking about others and how they may start this adjustment on their own.
Three things come to mind on how one might find their balance;
1.Take a Break
Often times depending on the sport, you are playing year around. Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall. My sports, swimming and basketball, never had an "off season" as winter and fall swim rolled into spring and summer. Same with Basketball, I might have had one month off between AAU basketball ending and when school practice began.
If you are a student-athlete that feels overwhelmed and does not feel you have balance, take a break. Whether it be a tournament or two, a week of (intense) practice, a summer off, or just a day. Take a break and learn a new skill, travel with your youth group, or finish a book.
The "No Day's Off" mentality can be toxic as that way of thinking is not meant for everyone nor for everything.
I would not cheer on any working class adult to take no day's off. I would encourage them to use those days off because life is more than the job. As it is more than your sport.
If that feels too intense because of commitments or pressure, take time to craft a different skill within the sport on your day off. I.e spend 30 minutes at the free throw line working on your free throws, take 15 minutes to learn your count as you enter the wall for a flip turn. Watch film on other players, yourself, or learn new plays.
2. Create a list of things you like
It is interesting how many kids I meet that don't know of other interest beyond the sport they play. It is not often, but sometimes young boys will say, "well I like football and baseball" as they explain other things they like besides basketball. I get it. You like sports. But what are your other interest that are fun, make you feel special, or excite you? Plenty of decision will be made for you when it comes to the world of sport. Depending on what sport, the types of colleges that have that sport, the highest level in which you will be able to play said sport, or the professions you may reach to make a living within that sport. All are great and there is nothing wrong with wanting to go pro in something you love, however, as the famous NCAA quote states,
"There are more than 460,000 NCAA student-athletes, and most of them will go pro in something other than sports."--- NFHS
With that knowledge, begin to find other things you like to do. Had someone introduced me to business or marketing, I think I would've found interest in that as I am now pursuing my own business venture. I am thankful for it now, however, it's a skill set that would have been nice to invest in earlier in life.
3.Color your hair
I mean this figuratively and literally. What is your uniqueness? What make you stand out? This could include the type of sport you play or the uniques of your position within the sport. But find something about yourself that you like and celebrate it.
Megan Rapinoe is known for so much more than her pink hair, but SHE HAD PINK HAIR! She is a kick-ass soccer player, leader, and advocate that plays up her uniqueness to support the things she believes in. Even becoming Times 100 Most Influential People. Now, I am not saying you have to become apart of Times 100 most (although that would be totally awesome, no lie).
But, I believe many people who like parts of themselves have potential to like most if not all of themselves which means the parts of you who is more than your sport.
One day you'll be able to introduce yourself as more than...
"Hi, my name is Simone, I played basketball AND..."