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6 Tips for Creating Balance Between the Classroom And The Rink

Many student-athletes feel a flourishing hockey career is determined by what the scoresheet reads. However, success is better defined when it’s clear that the game helps to mold you into a well-rounded person. This is done when you create balance between your school, social, and athletic paths. 


Finding a way to juggle it all may seem daunting, especially when hockey is so time-consuming—but the truth is finding a proper mix between school and hockey isn’t hard if you have a plan. 


With school back in session across the country, it’s important to look at ways to create balance in your life so you can find success on and off the ice.


Break Down Your Goals

Big dreams are much easier to achieve when broken into smaller, more manageable goals. 

Instead of saying, “I want to get a 4.0 this year,” or “I want to set a record for points,” try going class by class or game by game saying things like, “I am going to try to get an A on this next test,” or “I want to get on the scoresheet two times this game.”

Smaller manageable goals are easier to achieve. They fuel the success motor and keep you going so the big goal becomes a side effect of doing the little things right. More importantly, they give you more balance. It’s easier to focus on a small hockey goal, a small academic goal, and a small social goal than it is to focus on going to the NAHL and landing a spot on a Division I team.


Practice Time Management 

You have a tournament this weekend out of state, a paper due on Tuesday and a geometry test on Thursday. Oh, don’t forget about practice three nights this week, plus weight room and film sessions, private lessons and a significant other who wants to go out and spend time with you. 

Putting it down on a “To-Do” list may make you feel overwhelmed, but it doesn’t have to be that way. 

There are many ways you can manage your time. If you are a digital person, your phone’s calendar or notes are great tools that you can use to organize your to-do lists. If you aren’t a fan of what your phone comes equipped with, you can download countless third-party apps. Todoist, Calendly, and iStudiez are all great tools you can add to your phone. 

If you find the old fashion school issued planner helps you better, then, sharpen that pencil. It’s good idea to use it to break down larger assignments into smaller tasks to complete each day.  Be sure to write them in your planner. 

Another way to stay on top of things is to use a whiteboard calendar to put your days and weeks into perspective. You can even take a picture of it and make it your phone’s background for the week so you always know what’s going on. 

Regardless of what tool you choose, you must ensure you always record due dates on your calendar and break big assignments into smaller chunks. Then, make a weekly schedule and stick to it. 

The saying, “Procrastination is a thief,” is true. If you put things off or fall behind, you are going to get robbed of ice time. No one wants to see that happen.

Remember to include some downtime, or you will set yourself up for failure. 


Utilize 21st Century Resources

Many people argue that using technology is a form of cheating. While they are not wrong in this line of thinking, there are ways you can use technology to help you without crossing the line into cheating. 

For example, you can run an essay through Grammarly to check for errors. If the piece is yours, and you rely on a tool to check your work, you are simply saving time and being mindful about doing a good job. 

On the other hand, if you ask ChatGPT to spit out a 500-word English paper or PhotoMath to solve your algebra homework problems, you are well past the line.

Remember, for every one AI tool out there to do a job for you, there are several that are trying to catch you. Schools get hundreds of emails every day about AI detection tools. It’s easier to do your best, use the resources at your disposal, and don’t enter the gray when it comes to original work. It’s not worth it, and you’ll have to redo the job or even worse, fail the assignment, when you get caught. 

Make Time for a Social Life

The term “burnout” is heard a lot in the hockey community. Lessons, minicamps, and extra showcases come at a cost—friends outside of the rink.

Remember to make time for school dances, birthday parties and sleepovers with your classmates. Attempt to get involved in various clubs and different things at school. Maybe it is student government, a media organization or e-sports.  Don’t be nervous to dedicate some time to other hobbies and interests beyond playing hockey. 

Hockey can certainly be a big part of your life, but if you allow it to become the only part of your life, you will look back and wish you would have done things differently. Practice those time management skills and get involved in something outside of hockey that interests you. It will help you grow into a more well-rounded person.

Don’t Be Afraid to Take a Breather

Sometimes, your body will flat-out tell you, “I am tired, and I need some Netflix.” Listen to your body! You don’t need a stick in your hand or your nose in a book all day long. It’s OK to take a few hours to decompress. It’s good for you. Trust that you know what you want to achieve in the classroom and on the ice and that your work ethic and grit will get you there. 

Even the hardest workers on and off the ice need a day to binge the latest season of their favorite show. Take it!


Trust that Your Teachers Understand

One of the easiest ways to stay on top of things is turning to your teachers and letting them know you play hockey. You will be surprised how invested they become in your success on and off the ice. 

The key to getting help is simple. Don’t be afraid to ask for it. Teachers want to see you do well, and when you struggle, they want to help you turn it around.

Create a rapport with all of your teachers, so that when you do hit a bump in your academic journey, (and all student-athletes hit bumps) approaching them isn’t something to worry about, but rather, just another daily conversation.

Balancing a sport as demanding as hockey with school is a challenging task. It takes motivation, determination and a lot of late nights. However, the rewards are endless. The balancing act will teach you life skills like teamwork, physical endurance, perseverance, commitment, and time management that will translate into college and your career. 

When you feel overwhelmed between what needs to be done on the ice and in the classroom, take a step back, look at the big picture, set small goals, plan, and start grinding. 

Will it be easy? Doubtful. 

Will it be worth it? Absolutely. 



Who is your favorite American player?
Auston Matthews
Jason Robertson
Tage Thompson
Matthew Tkachuk
Patrick Kane
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