Athletes vs Students

We all accept that Usain Bolt must have trained hard to be the Olympic champion and fastest man alive to date, but did you know he has the spinal disease scoliosis?

The best way to predict the future is to plan for it.

In sport, we know that to succeed, you need to have many things in place.Professional athletes have many aspects to their success, some of which are:

  • An experienced coach that they listen to and follow the advice of.
  • A structured practice routine that focuses specifically on many aspects of their sport, form, training etc
  • A nutritional coach to ensure they are eating correctly for the optimum energy intake.
  • Video analysis sessions to examine in detail what aspects of their performance they need to work on.
  • Practise under competition conditions. (eg a marathon runner trains over many distances including the whole 42 km, not just run 10 km each day).
  • Include a sports psychology coach to train for mental toughness and competitiveness.

    Professional athletes know that failing to reach their goals is part of them growing and getting better. It pushes them to strive to make new PB’s and then put in the training to attain those times. Usain knew that he was not going to break the world record the first time he ran a race. It was going to take him many times racing, training, preparing to improve. He knew that failing is part of the growth process and that you learn from your mistakes. He and his coach then examine the mistakes so they can then plan to reduce them in the future and grow as a result.


Learning is the same…..

Becoming a successful learner has the same features as a sports person. Students are not born a genius just like sports people are not born winners, a lot of work and planning is needed to make success happen. (Einstein quote: Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration).

Recent brain studies have shown that your IQ is not fixed, that it changes and develops due to making new neural connections. More challenging situations makes new connections in the brain. You may have heard about brain damage victims whose brain have rewired and learned to control different parts of their body. (This is called brain plasticity).


Planning for Academic Success

To improve your students performance, many areas need to be worked on, just like in an athlete. I will be making many posts, videos etc this year to give you ideas on how to make changes to help your child find their way to success. Some of these we do in class, while others you will need to do outside of class (Please check back frequently for posts and on the Flipped Learning Site for Study Skill videos).

The main areas to work on include:

1. MindSet

  • Your mindset REALLY impacts how you achieve. If you approach a problem or situation with a positive mindset, a world of difference can be made. Here you can see some of the statements I have in my classroom to try and get students to change their mindset. 
  • How many times did Einstein ‘fail’ when he was generating his theories? Each time, he learn’t something new until he had his theories on gravity, space and time.
  • Students need to realise they are SMART, they just need to find their way of learning and when that happens, they will be amazed. BUT it takes time, many fails (learning moments) and hard work!


2. Strategic study routines

  • Just like an athlete has a structure way to improve, your child needs to work on different areas of their learning in a structured manner. Find out what they don’t know and then work on it (read, watch videos, ask for help). After hard work and looking at it from different angles, the penny will drop.
  • Once it has dropped, they need to revise frequently to prevent forgetting it. See post on study and memory retention.
  • Use study skills to learn material effectively. Try out different study skills (see study skill videos on Flipped Learning Channel, ask others how they do it).

3. Learn new material ACTIVELY in a variety of Ways.

  • Think back to when you taught your child the alphabet. They most probably learnt it by 2 years old. ie they learnt 26 items in order and most possibly recognised words as well…………. HOW?
  • You taught them:  – visually (drawing, painting, flash cards), – auditory ie sound (imitation of words, singing,), – manipulating objects (drawing in sand, making play-dough letters etc).

In other words, you repeated frequently these letters in a variety of ways. Why then do high school students then think that if they don’;t get it the first time by just using ONE method, that they are dumb and will never get it???


They need to explore the new concepts in different ways, talk to each-other, draw it, make it, teach it etc until it makes sense! In doing these, it takes time. (To quote the 1990 Pantene shampoo add “It won’t happen over night but it will happen!”).

       This is the advantage of the Flipped Learning we are doing in class as the kids reinforce and tackle concepts ACTIVELY.


4. Revise material under ‘exam’ conditions (more senior)

Finish strong and perform to your maximum

A marathon runner trains over all sorts of distances, including a 42 km run in their race preparation. They know that if they are to succeed, their body and mind needs to know what it feels like to run 42 km, not just complete many 10 km runs. They need to know how to respond in a race after their body has run 40 km, so they can finish strong.

       Students need a similar approach when preparing for big exams such as the HSC.

They need to sit down and complete a similar exam for 3 hours in length so they know how it feels, how to time manage, how to cope if they encounter a challenging question, and how to maximise their marks (more in future posts about exam techniques).

5. Time management and prioritise.

The skill of knowing when and how to study is KEY. Identifying your areas of weakness and working on those is more beneficial than completing 50 questions on a skill you have mastered. Using IXL time wisely to identify areas, then work on those areas are other posts that I will post in the future.


6. Relaxation time must be planned in to avoid burnout.

We often forget that we need downtime (myself included, as I am typing this at 9.30 pm 29th Dec).

Students need time to relax, play and SLEEP!

They will then be in a better mind frame to perform, recall, problem solve when needed.


These are some of the areas that professional athletes use to excel which can be mirrored in academic life. I hope this post has informed you and made you realise that success takes planning, hard work and tenacity along with help from others.

Keep an eye out for future posts in the study section.

Here are a collection of quotes on learning to remember.





















until next time,

Yours educationally,

Mr Darin Carr

About Mr Carr

Science / Chemistry / Physics Teacher "ALWAYS strive to improve in ALL things!"

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