5 Tips To Survive As A Student Athlete

Cover Of Robert Grilli's book for the student athlete

The journey of a student athlete is a unique one. This uniqueness stems from the fact that there is a constant battle to find success in balancing school, sport, and social life.

With this in mind, I created The Playbook, A Student-Athlete’s Guide to Success to help empower prospective and current collegiate student athletes. Not to mention helping them find success in these three facets of a student-athlete’s life while attempting to allay any fears that may accompany them.

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Here are five survival tactics student athletes follow to gain success in and out of the classroom:

Utilizing an Agenda/Calendar

This is important:

Organizing your precious time can be done either through the calendar in your cellphone or with a printed agenda/calendar. Inputting athletic, academic and important events well in advance and on daily basis will keep you informed, prepared, on task, and will help you prioritize and manage your time.

Developing Relationships

Develop relationships in the classroom: with your professors and your classmates, especially non-student-athletes. This is extremely important in a variety of ways. Professors are extremely valuable to your learning in the classroom and in the real world. Their advice and mentoring is literally a question or a meeting away.

What about scheduling conflicts?

There are times when athletic scheduling conflicts arise and professors who are willing to work with you, make these excused absences a lot easier to manage. Without developing a relationship with these professors you will not know if they are open to working with you.


It is a student-athlete’s responsibility to inform a professor of these absences and take necessary actions such as turning in assignments early. As a student athlete, you will be missing class because of your respective sport. With this in mind, it’s equally important to befriend reliable “non-student athlete” classmates who will be able to assist you on class subject material from lectures that you may have missed. As a consequence, I have found that many of these “non-student athlete” classmates can turn into amazing life-long friends.


Here’s the deal:

Without staying eligible academically you won’t be able to participate in your respective sport. Not every sport gives out full scholarships. One way to offset the high cost of schooling is to receive academic scholarship money. Furthermore, the transferable desirable traits that you inherently possess from playing sports such as being a great teammate, ability to compete in high pressure situations, and being a leader, combined with a high GPA makes a student athlete very marketable to potential employers during your transition to the working world. Extra credit opportunities are like those practices that are made mandatory by your teammates. No excuses, take advantage of them, it is the easiest way to boost your GPA.  The higher your GPA the more opportunities you will garner.


Just like you never go into a game without practicing, the same holds true for when you take a test. This preparation starts with taking great notes in class. Leading up to the test whatever studying technique you use whether that’s memorization or reworking problems to name a few, it is crucial that you prepare prior to the test.

Student Athlete

“Respect is not earned by what you say, but rather by what you do” (The Playbook, 54). If you’re in high school, no one cares how well you did in middle school. When you’re in college no one cares how well you did in high school. “Close the yearbook”. You will be respected by the way you conduct yourself and go about your business on a daily basis.

Ask yourself these five questions:

  1. Am I finishing each rep in the weight room?
  2. Do I treat my teammates with respect? 
  3. Am I always on time (better yet, early?) 
  4. Do I attend all of the early/extra work?
  5. Do I represent myself, my team, and my school in a positive manner in the classroom, in my respective sport, and socially?

There will be instances when you need to address something verbally. If you have gained the respect of your teammates by way of your actions, your voice will carry a lot more weight within the room.

As previously mentioned, do not be afraid to ask questions and for help. This also goes for engaging upperclassmen who are there to assist younger student-athletes. On occasion these teammates may give you a hard time but generally they are there to help, as they were once underclassmen as well. They can be an extremely valuable resource to you as a student athlete as they have gone through what it is that you are about to embark on.

Your time as a student athlete is finite. Enjoy every minute of the journey and embrace every obstacle while falling in love with the process. It is one of the most enjoyable times of your life. Every Student Athlete Will Benefit from reading Robert Grilli’s 80-page guide. The Playbook equips student-athletes with the tools and life lessons that they”ll utilize throughout their college tenure.