Train Hard, Study Hard – Pursuing Your Passion for Football without Neglecting Your Academic Studies
Any young person with a burning desire to become a professional footballer will have to make sacrifices in order to reach the top. This could mean giving up free time, spending time away from home or having a less active social life. However, a player’s academic studies should not be one of the elements that are cast aside in the pursuit of a professional football career.
A balancing act
In the modern world, it is entirely possible for a player to balance a successful academic career with their footballing ambitions. In fact, for the most focused and dedicated players, the sky really is the limit. With the right attitude, a young person can achieve great things in more than one area.
A student that wants to become a professional footballer should never limit themselves. They should have the mentality to push for the top and never settle for second best. By believing in their own abilities, a student can excel both on and off the field of play.
Study can improve your game
Academic studies should not be seen as a hindrance to a sporting career, they should be seen as a benefit. Intellectual stimulation can be an important aid in building the mentality of a winner. Academic success can often complement or even boost sporting success. Players that study hard will learn to remain disciplined and focused, and may find it easier to develop the in-game intelligence required to effectively apply different techniques and tactics on the football pitch.
A well-educated sportsperson may also find it easier to cope with other aspects of being a professional such as dealing with clubs, coaches, accountants, agents and the media.
The importance of role models
With this in mind, it is important that those people that inspire and influence budding young players, such as parents and coaches, emphasize the importance of a good education from day one.
A parent who gives their child all the tools and support they need to pursue career in football, should also give them equal encouragement on the academic side. Not only because it could help their development as a player, but also because there are no guarantees that they will make it as a professional football player and another path may have to be taken.
A child should be encouraged to give their best in whatever they do. This will require responsibility, discipline and excellent time-management skills. A solid academic foundation also allows a players to remain grounded and level-headed. These traits, along with exceptional sporting ability, will give students the very best chance of remaining on the right track.
Research suggests that good students make better athletes
The belief in the tangible benefits of combining sport and academic study is also backed up by research. A study on this type of ‘dual career’ has been carried out by the Centre for Olympic Studies and Research.
The director of the centre, Professor Ian Henry, noted that balancing an academic interest outside of sport helps athletes “to put their training and performance into perspective, allowing them to deal more effectively with the challenges of sport, including setbacks and injury”.
The study also revealed that combining the two elements helps sports players to “refine and develops transferable skills. Skills such as planning and goal setting, team working, interpersonal skills, commitment, leadership and the ability to prioritize are requirements of success in both the academic and the sporting domains.”
In addition, the research made it clear that the combination of studying and training not only helps a player to keep a sense of perspective, but also provides intellectual stimulation, release from stress, and can actually improve their performance on the field.