When you think “straight A” student, you probably don’t think athlete, or vice versa. For decades, sports and academics have been at odds with each other. The ‘nerd’ and the ‘jock’ have become standard tropes on TV shows aimed at younger audiences, but very rarely does a character embody both intelligence and physical prowess. However, more recently it’s been understood that being smart isn’t a bad thing if you’re an athlete. In fact, it’s actually a big help. This is why.
Many students who frequently get A’s on their schoolwork have good self-discipline. They put time into doing their work and don’t leave it until the last minute like so many of their peers. This doesn’t mean that all they do with their time is sit there with their head in the books, they’re just very well organized.
This is a trait that’s actually great for an athlete to have. No matter the sport they do, an athlete that is organized and self-disciplined will have a better focus on what they need to achieve in their field. If a coach identifies a weakness in their performance, they’ll put in the work to correct it, even if it’s in their own free time. It’s athletes like that who tend to go on to achieve great things in their sport, because they’ve strived where others have faltered. If performing at somewhere like the Olympics is on your agenda, you need to have good self-discipline.
Athletes aren’t dumb, no matter the stereotype. They may not all be geniuses, but when it comes to their sport, their thought power is surprisingly strong. That’s because, in order to succeed, they need to be able to retain information and think on their feet. In the middle of a game, you don’t have time to stop and think about how to act. You have to react in that moment, and the smartest athletes will know instinctively what to do.
It stands to reason, then, that someone who’s a “straight A” student will be better equipped to deal with those moments, over those who push their studies to the side. Studying hard at school and getting good grades improves your intelligence and makes it easier for your brain to retain information. The more effort you put in at school, the easier you’ll find it to pick up your coach’s advice in the heat of a game.
Working towards the future
Being intelligent should never be seen as a sign of weakness. With school and sports both requiring a lot of a person’s time, it can be easy for someone to pick one over the other, rather than doing both. It is a big commitment to try and improve your intelligence and athleticism at the same time, but the benefits will be clear in the long run.
Most athletes careers end as they approach their forties, because their bodies can no longer keep them at peak fitness. If you’re someone looking to make a career out of being an athlete, that doesn’t give you much time. To make the most of those professional years, you need to put in the work while you’re still growing and developing. That means being dedicated to your sport when you’re in school. How can you make the most of that time? By studying as well as running, jumping or whatever it is your sport involves. You may not love it at the time, but if you want to be the best, you have to make sacrifices somewhere.
Next time you wonder if it’s worth picking up the books and doing better on a test, just keep all this in mind. You could be studying your way to being an Olympic gold medallist.