Stress in Students vs. Student Athletes

Photo Source: Pixabay

Photo Source: Pixabay

Alyssa Persichetti

A majority of students are overworked, overstressed, and overtired due to their sports. The stress student athletes face not only affects themselves, but the people around them as well. 


The high stress sports put on athletes turn them into, “someone who [they] wouldn’t want to be around. It is crazy how much a sport controls your life,” Kaylie Dalgar stated. 


For some athletes, their sports are their life. Everything they do, including school, revolves around sports. This is a heavy burden to carry as it causes loads of stress on the student portion of their lives. 


When asked about the effects of stress school and sports leaves them, an anonymous student stated, “balancing school work and training for games can be a lot on someone mentally. Depending on the workload, school can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for athletes as well as affecting their sleep at night.” This student accurately portrays the effects the stress of sports can have on the stress of school work. 


A student may only face the pressure from themself on a test, but an athlete deals with the pressure of coaches, teammates, and themselves every time they step onto the field, court, mats, etc.. Disappointing yourself is one thing, but disappointing everyone around you is much more stressful. One student feels that sports are, “a huge contributor to [his] stress… [he] feels a lot of pressure because of [his coaches]”. 


With the data from this form, it is clear that the stress transferred from their sport also transfers into their school work, so much so that nearly 75% of student athletes claim they see a positive difference in their stress during their off season. There is a new stressor in an athlete’s life no matter which direction they turn. 


Although school with sports  may seem like a difficult task to manage, many students who do not participate in a sport face just as much, if not more, stress than student athletes. 


Some students find other ways to participate in school pride other than sports such as band, clubs, or even volunteering. These activities take just as much time out of a student’s day as sports do athletes. Some students even work long hours after school, taking away time for them to do homework, just like practice and games do for athletes. 


Clubs are another huge stressor of non-student athletes. Sophomore Molly Burke feels that all factors of her stress lead back to her extracurricular activities and, “despite the fact [she] is not a school athlete, [she] is part of at least 4 clubs.” Which understandably takes a lot of time out of her day to do her homework. This obviously leads to stress in her life. Although she is not an athlete, she is dedicating much of her time and effort into something that takes just as much out of her as a sport would to any student athlete. 


Over 77% of students who took this survey, athletes and non athletes included, spend two or more hours on their homework nightly. That does not seem like a lot, but when a student comes home from a long day at practice or a tiring shift at work, the last thing they want to do is sit down and do their homework until 11p.m.. 


One student athlete that knows the struggle between balancing school and sports is Ava Snyder. Ava is a junior at Pentucket Regional High School and captain of the volleyball team. Ava is not only a great athlete, but a great student as well. 


When asked about how volleyball affects the overall stress in her life, Ava said, “I think that there’s a lot of pressure in volleyball to be a role model and know that everyone on the team is looking up to me. I want to set an example for all the other girls in the program and there’s a lot of pressure thinking that my every move is being reflected on the rest of the team. Any time my energy is low or I’m not having a good practice, I know that my mindset is reflecting on all of the other girls and I don’t want to make any mistakes.” 


As a captain, she feels as if she is responsible for herself and everyone else on the team. This stress carries into her life at home and even sometimes the next day at school. Although she loves her sport and the opportunities it has brought her, she feels that sometimes she wishes she could play the sport she loves and not have to worry about the stress it brings to her life.


Ava feels as if she has to put volleyball before school. Of course her main focus is being a good student, but sometimes it is hard to set aside time for school when she is dedicating so much of it to volleyball. “Being there and accounted for and actively participating at every practice is something that’s really important to me, and there are days when I have tons of homework or need help with schoolwork or studying, but I find myself putting volleyball first. There have been times when I had big tests to study for, but instead of staying after for help from a teacher, I would go practice and then stay up late that night to get my studying done. I’m sure that this is something a lot of athletes can relate to.” 


Ava does not feel any pressure from those around her to be the best at her sport, but she definitely feels it from herself. “I think that there’s a lot of pressure that I’m putting on myself to have as few imperfections as possible. I do think that my coaches and parents pressure me in the best way possible because they want to see me succeed and push myself and my teammates to be the best we can. I know that when people push me it’s so that I can better myself or help better the team, and I think that the majority of the stress I feel comes from the pressure I am putting on myself.“ 


She adds extra stress and pressure in her life in place of the support she is getting around her. Ava says, “being this stressed on top of any minor or major stress school work might be bringing can build off of each other and absolutely wreck my night or day.”


Another student who faces the stresses of being a student with after school commitments is junior Allie Fandel. Allie, who works 26 hours a week, “feels overwhelmed a lot with balancing school and work life. Having to find time for school work and actual work can be very hard.” Although she is not spending her time playing a sport, she is dedicating at least twice as much time a day to working than any student athlete does at practice. 


Allie was asked if she could compare her stress to those of student athletes and she responded, “I don’t think I can compare my stress and personal/mental life with others. I think people who do sports during school have a lot of stress, but I also think people who don’t play sports have a lot of stress that is unknown to others. I do think I have a lot of stress even though I don’t do a sport, but I would never put my stress above others. Honestly, I don’t think it is possible to be able to tell who is more or less stressed.”


Allie feels as if she works way too hard in order to avoid the pressures of her teachers, parents, and her bosses. “Work is honestly the biggest factor of my stress. I feel like I am always at work and never have time to do my homework and when I don’t have work, I am just playing catch up with the schoolwork I missed from the previous night. Everything I do feels centered around work and it causes way too much stress in my life.”


It is very clear that both student athletes and non athletes both have large stressors in their life. Their pressure from their after school commitments and the pressure they face during school have a lot to do with the stress they face daily. 


The pressure sports leaves on an athlete is just as much physically draining as it is mentally draining. When coming home from a game or practice, the first thing on an athlete’s mind is to shower, eat, and honestly lay down. No matter what sport it is, there is a guarantee it will be physically draining throughout the season. Sometimes all a student athlete wants to do is relax. 


It is not always sports that is leaving a student athlete physically drained though, school is just as draining for some as their sports are. One student feels, “Having so much work for every class in addition to a sport adds so much more stress to my days. I don’t finish my homework until after 10p.m., which means it’s almost impossible for me to get enough sleep at night.”


The large portion of energy and time sports takes from an athlete on top of the mountains of work every night leaves students drained for the next day. It is a cycle setting them up for failure every time. 


Sports are also tiring on the body. Some athletes are so extremely overworked that their bodies just give out. One athlete claims she, “feels sick all the time. [She is] just always so tired and it gets to be too much for [her] sometimes.” 


 From the data that has been gathered, student athletes face both physical and mental stress from their sports and school work. Although it is very likely, none of the students surveyed claimed to feel the physical effects of stress from their job or extracurricular activities. 


Athletes definitely face much more demanding and physically stressful situations, but it is impossible to tell which group of students faces more stress. The information that has been gathered is that all students, whether they are athletes, club members, or just students, face extreme amounts of stress all due to school. 


At such a young age, students should not be dealing with the amount of stress that is being put on them. Athlete or not, no one needs to be as stressed as the students surveyed claimed to be. 98% of students surveyed in this form claimed their stress levels after school were five or above out of ten. The levels of pressure put on students needs to be lowered in order to keep kids functioning during and after school.