Athletes as students – building a double career

Life of each athlete varies a lot. There are 24 hours every day that are spent differently and there are thousands of things that can be done within these hours. Time spent on training, recovery, eating and sleeping takes most of the day. And then there is the time which is left and must be filled very carefully with the activities that won´t have any negative impact on the athlete´s performance. Nowadays, there are so many options the athletes can choose from. In this article, I will specifically talk about how to manage the spare time with the education and I’ll share with you some of my own experiences of how it is to be a full-time athlete while being successful as a student too.


„Being fully aware of the main priority gives an opportunity to carry out other minor activities that will have a positive impact on the overall self-performance which in the end matters the most.“

Building a double career, sport and study, is a big challenge that requires a true courage, an understanding of priorities and a focus on the optimal time consumption on both things. In this case, the first priority is considered to be the sport direction and the second one is the education. Set-up of an equal importance of priorities is too risky due to a time pressure and mind confusion, and it could have consequences such as frustrations, depressions or in the worst case a possible burn-out.

Psychological point of view

The secret key lays in the head. What does that mean? Our mind controls everything, so it’s extremely important to know and believe that you can do it, when you really want to. Setting up a positive mindset at the beginning and keeping it until the end will definitely bring success in both careers, as an athlete and as a student. Yes, it´s easy to do it when all the things work out. But what if something goes wrong? Obviously, following two paths is not like walking freely on the beach and it’s hard to stay focused all the time. We are all humans and we all make mistakes. There are always going to be ups and downs, victories, failures, unexpected things that we can’t change...but in the end it’s all about how we perceive the reality and how fast we get back on the track. What I’ve acknowledged so far is to always “see the good things in the bad things.” It’s very simple. If you fail an exam, you get a second attempt. If you lose a game, you learn the mistakes that can be avoided next time. If you just have a really bad day, tomorrow will be better. In conclusion, the mental strength is very important. Positive attitude and belief always work for me the best. Negativity, doubts and excuses appear occasionally but are definitely not favorable.





                                                        Tactical point of view

So, that was a little bit of psychology that can as well be applied to anything else in life. There are few other key things in order to manage sport and study at the same time:
1 = planning. Having a precise schedule. Organizing each day wisely and according to the priorities. It is going to be busy and it might be scary too. But after all, it helps to get your mind ready and it prepares you for different activities in advance.
2 = making the right decision when choosing the study program. It must fit well with the personal interests since studying something that is completely disliked might end up with several difficulties.
3 = making sure that the class attendance is not mandatory. Most likely some of the lectures will have to be missed as they will often overlap with the training times.
4 = accepting a home self-study and saying “no” to the party life. Obviously, social interaction is required to build a small network in order to be a part of the school community and to gather all the class materials and information.

"As a conclusion, yes, it is possible to be a full-time athlete and to be a student at the same time. It requires a strong positive mindset and a proper time management."

Moving away from home shortly after graduating High School in the summer of 2015 was a huge life changer. A Danish town called Odense became a starting point for a new chapter. Life wasn’t that simple anymore as it got split in two paths: the main one was the ‘badminton path’ which got the first priority and the second one, let’s call it „the education path“. The fact is that I spend most of the time of a day on training and recovery. Well to be honest, days would get too “simple” without doing anything else in the free time. I knew I could do something besides the badminton career that could possibly influence my future one day. And that´s when the decision of becoming a student was born.
Starting a 3-year Bachelor program in Economics and Business Administration at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense in September 2015 was firstly meant to be just a backup plan, in case that the badminton direction wouldn’t work out. The beginning was…hm, let´s move back in time… Still having fresh memories of walking down the main hall as a lost freshman, not knowing where the classroom is, and repeatedly asking myself the entire first semester “What the hell is going on in here?” Still having clear memories of the very first day which started with an extremely boring speeches but ended up in a bar dancing all night long with a new group of friends (well they told us the key is to socialize and so we did).
It’s funny how the time flies by so fast … 3 years, 6 semesters and 21 different courses. Many of them were interesting, the favorites were Brand/Project/Strategy Management, Business Law and Micro- and Macro-economics. Although, some courses, especially those including awful numbers and math, weren’t that enjoyable. Still remembering a course called Business IT which was all about computer coding and programming…that felt like randomly typing some hieroglyphs which afterwards usually ended with a result showing an error. There will always be courses that seem useless or boring. I´ve also had some less favorite ones and have had a hard time reading and understanding the class material but I still tried to put myself together and just do it. The more excuses, the harder it gets.
And then there were exam periods every January and June, which were literally the months I went to school the most. Exams had different forms; written, oral, take-home assignments or group works. Home self-studying was the most efficient way of learning for me. It was time-consuming and oh yes, I´ve spent a lot of hours behind the books. The fact that my total attendance at the lectures was ridiculously low did probably affected some of my grades. But here’s a funny thing! I’ve never failed any exam!
As in the most of the study programs, the last sixth semester was about doing a Bachelor project. It was required to be in small groups, and therefore, me and my partner Caroline have together decided to investigate how management affects the organizational culture in Jyske Bank Brønshøj department”. It is a small department near Copenhagen with 7 employees in total. We´ve had an opportunity to personally meet and interview the manager and the employees, and observe the entire environment at the department during a regular working day. Honestly, I enjoyed the project even though I remember writing some parts on the plane to Jamaica and Brazil last year in March. Hard work pays off, and not just on badminton court.”
Having a priority status of an athlete, I haven´t enjoyed the fun part of the student life as I missed pretty much all of the social events and parties. However, I still met a lot of new people at the campus and became good friends with few of my classmates. I´m happy and thankful that they accept that I am different and that they are willing to help me any time I ask.
The education path is not over yet. I am currently continuing at the same University with a 2-year Master´s degree program in International Business Management. Just a few days ago I passed all exams and finished the first semester. Three more to go…
Today, when looking back how much the University has taught me leads to a conclusion of making the right choice back in 2015. Besides gaining a new knowledge in different business and economic areas, the window of future job opportunities has grown significantly. It also gave me an idea of who I wanna be one day…

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