Article written by Annie Skidmore- BSc Sport & Exercise Science Student
Youth athletes face many pressures from both their sporting world and everyday life. It is important to try and get the balance right, so they can enjoy their different social commitments whilst still performing well. Here are a few challenges the youth athlete may face, how best to deal with them, and some tips to help them get the balance right!
The youth athletes face more than just a busy training schedule…they must balance school/college work, competitions, social events, and even sleep! Too much stress can cause the athlete to underperform and burnout  (read about burnout here)– both of which are NOT good for anyone! Therefore, it is vital for the youth athlete to have a good support network to ensure they maintain a good balance and keep fit and healthy.
6 TIPS TO BALANCE TRAINING AND SOCIAL EVENTS:
- HAVE A DIARY OR PLANNER: by having a diary, calendar, or planner you will be able to plan when different sporting events and competitions are coming up. This will help you to see when you have free time to enjoy socialising with friends and family, time off from competitions/training or even just to catch up on some work.
- PRIORITISE SLEEP: this may not seem important, but a tired athlete is no good to anyone. Sleep is essential for recovery and repair of muscles, reducing the risk of injury/illness, optimising performance, and reducing burnout in youth athletes . Sleep should also be accounted for especially during busy periods of competing, training and/or socialising. Learn more about the importance of sleep here.
- KEEP IN CONTACT WITH FRIENDS/FAMILY: being in regular contact with friends and family will help you to communicate with them even during busy periods. For example a lot of training/competing coupled with school/college work may mean meeting up might be hard. Also, it gives you the chance to express how you are feeling, how busy you are etc and gain some support from others.
- DON’T BE HARD ON YOURSELF: sometimes you won’t always get it right and that’s okay! Some days you will feel too tired to socialise or do work but rest, recovery and good nutrition will help minimise these feelings and help you to achieve a good balance.
- SHARE YOUR WORRIES: by keeping in contact with friends and family you will be able to share your feelings with people who are closest to you – this means the good and the bad! If you are stressed, overworked, overtrained, or just unsure on how you are going to manage a particular week/period let them know! They may even be able to help you figure out a plan of action.
- LASTLY…ENJOY! the most important thing is a happy, healthy athlete – so ENJOY both training, competing, and having FUN!
 Bergeron MF, Mountjoy M, Armstrong N, Chia M, Côté J, Emery CA, Faigenbaum A, Hall G, Kriemler S, Léglise M, Malina RM. International Olympic Committee consensus statement on youth athletic development. British journal of sports medicine. 2015 Jul 1;49(13):843-51.
 Watson AM. Sleep and athletic performance. Current sports medicine reports. 2017 Nov 1;16(6):413-8.