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How Student Athletes Juggle Hockey and Academics (2024)

For student-athletes, balancing academics and athletics can be a major challenge. Hockey, in particular, demands a tremendous commitment of time and energy. Practices, games, travel, conditioning, and injuries take their toll physically and mentally.

Maintaining top grades amidst a hectic schedule requires discipline, time management skills, and often, sacrifices. This is especially true for hockey players at the collegiate and junior levels.

Navigating the demanding dual responsibilities of excelling in hockey and academics requires effective time management and dedication; student-athletes can find valuable support with services like¬†Academized, which offers to “do my homework for me,” allowing them to maintain their academic performance while pursuing their passion on the hockey rink.

Success in the classroom and on the ice depends largely on each individual’s determination and work ethic. Coaches and academic advisors provide guidance, but it is up to the athletes themselves to put in the effort.

There are no shortcuts. However, with the right strategies and support systems in place, student-athletes can thrive in both realms.

Time Management Is Key

One of the biggest hurdles for student hockey players is finding enough time in the day for academics, athletics and basic needs like sleeping and eating.

Between practices, games, classes, homework, and travel, their weekly schedules are packed from morning to night. Careful planning and time management are essential to avoiding burnout and maintaining balance.

Student-athletes must make judicious use of small pockets of time between other obligations. Utilizing breaks between classes or on bus rides for studying helps maximize efficiency. Scheduling fixed blocks for homework and sticking to them is also important. Given the hectic pace, it is critical to stay organized and avoid procrastination.

“My time management skills have improved immensely since starting college hockey. I plan out my weeks in advance to make sure I get everything done. It was an adjustment at first, but now it’s just part of my routine,” says Jamie Smith, sophomore forward.

Be sure to properly prepare all your equipment when you find the time. The sooner you do it, the better it will be.

Seek Out Academic Assistance

Balancing heavy course loads and hockey responsibilities can be extremely challenging. Seeking out academic resources on campus can help student-athletes manage more effectively. This includes things like meeting with professors during office hours, forming study groups, attending tutoring or writing center sessions, and connecting with academic advisors.

Many schools offer academic support programs specifically for athletes. These provide mentoring, supervised study spaces, skills workshops, and tutors. Working closely with academic advisors to map out class schedules and degree plans is also beneficial.

Advisors can help student-athletes select majors and courses appropriately tailored to fit their needs.

As an engineering major and athlete, my schedule is packed. Going to the academic achievement center three nights a week helps keep me on track. The tutors there are lifesavers,” admits Connor Davis, junior defenseman.

Learn Effective Study Strategies

Learn Effective Study Strategies

Finding the best individual learning strategies and sticking to them is key for any successful student. This is especially important for student-athletes with hectic schedules. Shorter, quality study sessions spread throughout the day tend to be the most effective.

Twenty to thirty-minute blocks between classes or practice work well for previewing material or reviewing notes. Longer uninterrupted sessions are ideal for completing problem sets or papers.

Immediately reviewing each day’s material helps cement concepts rather than cramming every few days. Condensing notes, using flashcards, and recording lectures are all useful strategies. It is critical to eliminate digital distractions by silencing phones and closing extraneous browser windows while studying.

Finding locations like the library that limit distractions can also boost productivity.

“I’m definitely a visual learner. Making diagrams, charts, and flashcards helps concepts stick better for me,” notes Alicia Cox, freshman goalie.

Make Use of “Found Time”

Found time” refers to small pockets of time that unexpectedly open up during the day, often due to a canceled meeting or practice. While 10 or 15 minutes may not seem like much, these small windows of time can add up. Bringing notes or assignments along to review during this found time eliminates wasted minutes.

Athletes spend a great deal of time traveling between classes, practice, games, and other obligations. Buses, cars, and planes offer the perfect opportunity for squeezing in some studying. Downloading course reading materials or lectures to listen to offline maximizes this.

Setting alerts for mini-study session reminders can also encourage utilizing found time most efficiently.

“On game days, I use bus rides to get some reading done or study flashcards. It’s not a ton of time, but it adds up over the season,” says Emma White, sophomore left wing.

Set Daily Goals

Setting Daily Academic and Athletic Goals

Setting daily academic and athletic goals provides focus, structure, and motivation. Posting written checklists of realistic to-do items holds student-athletes accountable. Categorizing tasks by high priority and lower priority prevents getting overly swept up in the inconsequential.

Checking off completed items provides a needed sense of progress and accomplishment.

Goals should align directly with long-term degree and hockey objectives. Maintaining perspective on the big picture purpose behind daily goals helps fuel effort. Building in both short and long-term rewards for achieving goals offers positive reinforcement.

Smaller prizes like a favorite snack or show provide immediate gratification while bigger rewards like a fun weekend trip offer longer-term incentives.

“I start each day by writing out my three most important academic tasks. Once those are done, I feel at ease tackling other items on my list,” remarks Nate Davis, junior center.

Seek Intentional Balance

It is vital for student athletes to carve out time for activities beyond academics and hockey which bring joy and relaxation. Social connections, hobbies, passions, and downtime are key for emotional health and personal growth.

Scheduling clubs, intramurals, travel or volunteer work reminds students their identity is multi-faceted.

Periodically skipping out on hitting the gym or the library to grab coffee with friends keeps perspective. While rest and breaks need to be built in, they should not be excessive. Free time should feel intentional, not like avoidance or lounging out of exhaustion.

Keeping free time restricted boosts motivation to maximize productivity in other areas.

“I make it a point to call home at least twice a week to catch up with my family. Those calls energize me,” explains Priya Patel, sophomore defenseman.

Strive for Quality Over Quantity

College Athletes

Attempting to overstuff schedules to the brim will inevitably backfire through burnout. As the old saying goes “less is more.” College athletes only have a fixed number of hours in the day. Trying to fit in every practice, event or assignment leads to ineffective splitting of focus and rushed work.

Setting rational limits and cutting back lower-priority activities clears time and mental space. Quality intense practice or study sessions achieve far more than drawn-out half-hearted ones.

Saying “no” to additional obligations outside core roles improves concentration. Bringing full presence of mind to each task bolsters performance and enjoyment.

“I used to say yes to every committee and activity that asked for volunteers. When my grades slipped, I realized I needed to be more choosy about what I take on,” says Priya Patel, sophomore defenseman.

Communicate Openly with Coaches

Hockey coaches play a pivotal role in setting team practice and travel schedules. Communicating openly with coaches about academic workload and challenges is key. Reputable coaches want to see their athletes succeed in all facets of college life, not just hockey.

Setting reasonable limits, like missing optional skates to prepare for exams, is perfectly acceptable. Approaching coaches to discuss solutions and find compromises around academic conflicts shows maturity.

Coaches usually prove willing to make accommodations whether it be adjusting practice times or allowing video call check-ins while on the road.

“Sitting down with my coach early on was really helpful. We mapped out the team schedule and my midterm weeks and made some tweaks so I wasn’t overwhelmed,” recounts Jamie Smith, sophomore forward.

While discussing scheduling, we also reviewed the NHL overtime rules for the playoffs in 2023-24 to ensure we were prepared for any extended games.

Seek Out Social Support

The Support and Camaraderie of Teammates

The support and camaraderie of teammates form a natural built-in social network. Leaning on teammates for encouragement through difficult weeks or celebrated achievements helps student-athletes maintain perspective and stay motivated. Study groups with fellow players provide accountability and a sense of unity in the academic struggle.

However, developing friendships outside of the team is also extremely beneficial. Non-hockey peers offer a reprieve from the constant shop talk and comparison. Study groups or shared classes with non-athletes provide diversity.

Making an effort to socialize outside team obligations prevents tunnel vision. Maintaining these varied social circles helps student-athletes avoid losing their identities.

“My roommate is on the volleyball team. It’s nice to have a friend who gets the athlete lifestyle but we can also talk about normal college stuff,” says Connor Davis, junior defenseman.

Remember the End Goal

When energy and motivation are lagging, remembering the end goal reignites purpose. The sacrifices student-athletes make ultimately aim at achieving a degree and competing in their sport at the highest level. Keeping this top of mind sustains perseverance through the toughest weeks.

Beyond that, the rigors of college athletics build life-long skills like time management, self-discipline, leadership, and teamwork which translate to future careers. The accomplishments and capabilities built will be carried forward.

Maintaining perspective on these lifelong payoffs helps student-athletes push through short-term exhaustion and keep their eyes on the prize.

“When I’m buried under homework after a brutal practice, thinking about the amazing job opportunities that will come from graduating helps me dig deep,” reminds Nate Davis, junior center.

Learn From Setbacks

Setbacks like a low test grade or poor performance inevitably happen despite student athletes’ best efforts. These cannot derail or define the journey but serve as opportunities for growth. Reflecting on what went wrong and developing a plan to improve empowers. Setbacks teach that success is not linear.

Bouncing back from missteps requires resilience, adaptability, and perspective. There are always more chances to prove oneself. Use setbacks as fuel to rebound better prepared. Beating oneself up over what cannot be changed is unproductive.

Focusing energy on growth and improvement is key. With the right outlook, every setback makes the student-athlete stronger in the end.

“That first semester I really bombed a few papers. Now I know I need to start the writing process way earlier and get more feedback. Turning that around helped my confidence,” admits Priya Patel, sophomore defenseman.


The life of a student-athlete requires immense commitment, drive, and sacrifice. Juggling the rigors of academics and high-level hockey is certainly no easy task. However, with thoughtful planning, resourcefulness, and resilience, achieving excellence in both realms is absolutely attainable.

The strategies and lessons gained serve student-athletes far beyond graduation. There is no doubt the effort required is immense, but the personal growth and fulfillment gained make it all worthwhile. With passion and perseverance, student-athletes can thrive as scholars and competitors.

As the heartbeat of Canada, where hockey culture has evolved over generations, embracing the sport not only fosters individual development but also contributes to the rich tapestry of our national identity.

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