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USPA Learning Coaches: The Intersection between School and Sport

Written by: Julie Glusker, Director of College Counseling

Excelling athletically and academically requires dedication, organization, and tenacity, and sport and school are both excellent environments where student athletes practice and hone these traits. Athletes frequently encounter challenges, including training, competition, logistics, weather, equipment, terrain, injury, finances, adversity, failure, loss, and (yes) even success. Athletes must learn to listen, attempt, adjust, try again, fail, practice, try again, and execute – the same approach good students employ in learning in the classroom. High performance student athletes ultimately must master learning to inquire and lead as individuals, competitors and teammates. All this development occurs in an iterative process on the field, in the gym, on the court, in a classroom, and even in a workplace. Sport and school should be interdependent and provide a strong foundation for an athlete’s wellbeing and vitality. This interdependence and our team’s ability to support student athletes across their roles are some of our greatest assets here at US Performance Academy, and US Performance Academy’s Learning Coach staff understands how student athletes learn best –  through trial and error and goal setting and planning. 

Beyond the joy and passion generated by its physical play, adrenaline, and entertainment aspects (the raw, pure fun factors), sport prepares athletes to navigate many different life challenges. Participation in sport, therefore, is a valuable and critical framework from which to develop lifelong learning skills. Some meaningful enigmas (and, conversely, opportunities) athletes face leading into each competitive season include goal setting, training, practice, and development. How to stay on track with everything beyond the travel, training, gear, and performance needed to succeed in sport? In some cases, this might be necessary from purely functional and logistical perspectives depending on an athlete’s age or competitive level, they must finish high school, apply to college, pursue sport at the highest level, and ultimately fund their pursuit. These experiences enable athletes to identify or spark curiosity in academic and career interests for future purposes. Many athletes choose business, communications, economics, orthopedics, sport training and management, psychology as majors that align with their athletic mindsets.

In other cases, setting goals and planning for life’s varied endeavors helps athletes feel better balanced and directed in their lives; they avoid burnout from myopic focus on or stress about competitive seasons, they subdue “being left behind” or FOMO (“Fear of missing out”), and they build a most vital identity beyond sport – student, friend, peer, activist, artist, engineer, musician, debater, performer, dancer, etc. – so many possibilities! A little planning goes a long way in helping athletes achieve balance and feel and be organized, prepared, and productive, and their ability to create a workable plan can help the entire cycle of performance. Creating a plan provides a detailed outline of activities and tasks required to accomplish a goal, breaking down the process into actionable steps based on a given timeline. No matter the end goal, a plan offers a clear roadmap for how to get there. Our USPA staff of Learning Coaches work with student athletes weekly to mentor them through keeping a healthy balance between school, sport and social.

Goal setting and planning for school and sport with USPA Learning Coaches, student athletes learn about organizing, communicating, and problem solving in ways applicable to other facets of their lives. Well-known author and motivational speaker Brian Tracy explains it as confidence-boosting:  “A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.”  These skills will reap rewards as they transition to life beyond school and sport and also learn critical skills for their season and future realms of education and career.  USPA is the most excellent online educational platform from which to develop young student athletes of all interests and abilities.