Being a student athlete is a strenuous endeavor which requires allocating your time perfectly. As a former Division 1 student athlete this article is written from firsthand experience and what I personally found that made my life easier. After your athletic and academic obligations are met you are left with a very small amount of free time which must be utilized as effectively as possible to maintain your sanity and health.
Twenty to forty hours of your time every week is dedicated to athletic responsibilities. Regardless of what the NCAA mandates as an acceptable hours quota for athletic activities, coaches generally do not respect this rule often finagling and meandering their way around it. You must maintain a full load of classes (12 credit hours) to stay academically eligible but it is encouraged that you take 15 credit hours so you will graduate on time. Most sources recommend studying 2 hours per week, per credit hour which would equate to 24 hours of studying per week. To maintain a healthy lifestyle 7-9 hours of sleep is recommended every night.
A weekly breakdown looks like this:
24 hours/day x 7 days = 168 hours/week
Athletic activities 20 – 40 hours/week
Recommended sleep (8 hours) x 7 nights = 56 hours/week
Class (15 hours) + study time (30 hours) = 45 hours/week
168 hours in one week – Sleep (56 hours) – Athletic obligations (40 hours) – Class & Study time (45 hours) = 27 Hours of free time. Now that we have established the amount of free time a typical student athlete has per week we can use this number to create a strategy to effectively use this allotted time.
If you have a meal plan and eat on campus every meal, this section will not be applicable to you. If you are lucky enough to have an awesome meal plan, enjoy the extra free time and SLEEP. One of the biggest time savers in my experience as a student athlete was setting aside predetermined amount of time 1-2 days a week to cook meals for the next 3-4 days. By setting aside time on a slower day to grocery shop and prepare meals for the next few days you free up time in the upcoming days that would have otherwise been spent cooking/seeking out food. By preparing meals in mass quantity you also cut down the amount of money you spend per meal which is an added bonus. Setting aside 8-8.5 hours/week to grocery shop, cook, and actually eat was the sweet spot for me. 27 free hours – 8.5 of cooking/eating/grocery shopping = 18.5 hours left.
Cleaning your living space as well as doing laundry are imperative to maintaining your sanity. By setting aside 3.5 hours a week to cleaning and 3.5 hours a week to laundry you give yourself enough time to take care of one of your basic needs. One technique I liked to use was to take care of laundry while my meals were cooking so that my time was utilized to the maximum. 18.5 free hours -7 hours = 11.5 hours left.
With your remaining free time use it to maintain your sanity. The stress of college athletics while trying to keep your grades up and appease the people in power will take its toll on you. Meditate, read, take a walk and maybe call your family! Use this remaining free time to take a moment for yourself and maintain your peace of mind so that you can successfully navigate and endure your day to day responsibilities and commitments.