Time Management for Young Athletes
BY BEN HAWKES
This article was (ironically) very timely for me. My time management over the past month or so has been less than ideal, to put it kindly, and when I saw this was the topic of discussion at Neuff for this month, I just laughed under my breath. Oh, the irony!
With that said, I can share some practical tips on how to organise your time wisely to fit in training, work, study and a social life.
LIFESTYLE MANAGEMENT IN ATHLETICS
GET YOUR DUCKS IN ORDER!
In a similar vein to our article on training periodisation, it’s crucial to work backwards from where we want to end up.
Indeed, periodisation isn’t a fancy training term. It’s the process or study of categorising the past into discrete, quantified, and named blocks of time. Also known as - planning.
So - if you imagine what you want your life to look like in, say, a year’s time, you work backwards from there to figure out what you need to do now to have the schedule you want then.
If you genuinely think about this and action it, you’re already on your way to the top percentiles of time management.
For example, I know that come to February-March, I’ll be looking to compete at the UK Winter Throws Championships. I also know that I’ll have uni deadlines, a dissertation to consider, and the stresses of two jobs at around the same time. So, to avoid stressing about those things in the lead-up to competition and potentially impacting my performance, I’ll be looking to get my ducks in order ahead of time.
MY LIFESTYLE MANAGEMENT STEPS
This will involve:
- Taking away some social/relaxing time in January and early Feb to get ahead on my assignments and make sure I have everything I need prepared at work.
- Using my rest day (Sunday) to get all my food for the week prepared, so I don't have to stress during the working week.
- Continuing to tick off the boxed in training, just focusing on the execution of my technical model. I know my absolute performance levels might drop as I work overtime to get my life ready to switch off for a few weeks leading in, but I understand that if I can remove stressors under my control, it will bounce back, ready for competition.
It’s not really that difficult - just think ahead and know when you want the noise of life to be quieter so you can get a high-quality signal in the circle / on the track.
SCHEDULING BASICS FOR YOUNG ATHLETES
So, you’ve got your ducks in order when it comes to the big picture. You still feel a little chaotic, though, trying to remember everything you’re doing each week just in your head.
For me, just using a calendar has been huge this year. Simple, I know, but I never used one before, and it’s really changed how I operate. Just check it on a Sunday and write down your non-regular appointments for the upcoming week.
For those regular appointments like school/university/work & training, I’ve found it helpful to create a draft ‘typical week’. Usually, I’ll make one of these once a term/semester because that’s how often my schedule changes. You can just block out time for the important things and let everything else fall into place around it. This was useful for me when I moved to university, and having a sense of when I’d be doing what I think helped me get used to living away from home as well as keeping me present & on task.
Obviously, you want to schedule in some free time, but keep it loose. Once you’ve pencilled in school/work and training, look to see when might be a good time to relax, when’s a good time to catch up on things you’ve missed, and when’s a good time to go out with mates.
My rest day is on Sunday, and I finish at 11 on Saturday, so I’ll go to the shop on the way back from Saturday training, get what I need to make my food for the week on Sunday, and then have a good time with my mates on Saturday afternoon/evening.
PROTECT YOUR TIME, BUT MAKE IT COUNT.
Hopefully, this gives you some food for thought about how you can make the most of your time, reduce your stress & anxiety and make living the athlete life a little more manageable.
Catch you next time!
ABOUT BEN HAWKES
Ben is a hammer thrower who competes internationally for Great Britain and Northern Ireland and is also a sport massage therapist and strength and conditioning coach.
He has been writing content and producing videos for us for over a year, and his content focuses on hammer throwing tips and strength & conditioning guides for your athletic training!
View his World Athletics profile here.