It seems like everywhere we look, someone is demanding something of us. Our teachers want us to do extra homework, our parents are asking us to help out more around the house and our coach is telling us that we need to come to two training sessions a week or we’ll be benched. On top of that, we’re already piled up with a million essays and assignments that are all due in the same week (do teachers plan it like this??). Amongst it all, someone’s telling us that it’s impossible to balance sport and study and we’re starting to believe them.

The person who’s telling you to drop your sport in your final years is wrong. If you need to take a couple of weeks off during exam period, go for it, but keeping up your playing/training commitments throughout the year is going to help you more than anything.

1. It will help your mental health

If there’s one thing I remember from Year 7 science, it’s this: exercise releases endorphins which are natural mood lifters. While it might feel like hell when you’re only fifteen minutes into your game and you already feel like dying, the after-exercise high will hit you eventually. On top of that, if you’re completely focused on a game or training session, you don’t have time to stress about anything else like exams or assignments until you finish. Win-win.

2. You won’t be a social hermit

Thanks to that major work you’ve left to the last minute, you’re spending every spare second trying to get it done; all-nighters are on the cards and weekends are spent barricaded in your bedroom. Your friends are slowly forgetting what it’s like to see you outside the school gates. The perk of playing a sport is that you’re basically forced to take time out for your training and game commitments, plus socialising with your team mates will make you feel less of a social hermit.

3. Keep on top of your fitness

While the stress of your finals years might mean you lose weight, it could also go the other way when all those late night study sessions with a mountain of snacks start to catch up with you. Staying involved in your sport means you can keep an eye on your body and make sure you’re staying on top of your fitness game.

4. Break from study

Another perk of playing a sport during high school is it’s a perfectly acceptable excuse to stop studying for a bit. Your mum can’t yell that you should have your head in a book and the above points about looking after your physical and mental health should keep your teachers off your back for a little bit. And, when you finally sit down and start looking at your notes, your brain will be a lot more focused and ready to go.

5. Boost your final marks

If you’re playing at an elite level and want to go into tertiary education, a lot of of uni’s will give you a couple of bonus points or a more flexible entry option. Plus, if you get in you’ll usually have access to flexible study programs and scholarship opportunities. You’ll have to submit an application (and obviously be competing at a pretty high level) but if you can go far with your sporting career, there are educational pathways that will help you along rather than forcing you to choose between sport and study.