Are you passionate about sport? Join the club. As every aspiring athlete knows, building a great sporting career involves commitment, resilience and many hours of training. But when you also happen to be in high school, faced with the daily onslaught of class schedules, assignments and exams, it can be hard to balance your priorities.

Geelong AFLW star Nina Morrison spoke to Deakin University this week about how she balances schoolwork and her football commitments.

How many team commitments did you have during Year 12 and how did you fit training, games, etc. in among schoolwork?

My main team commitments in the early part of the year were with the Geelong Falcons, which consisted of two trainings a week plus a match on the weekend. Whilst it made for a busy schedule, I found that this motivated me to use the small pockets of time I had wisely and work efficiently during these periods. I would use my two free periods each day to get a fair chunk of work done as well as the hour or so between school ending and training. Knowing that I would be tired when returning from training, I would prioritise study in most breaks during the day with the aim of finishing everything prior to leaving for training.

What were the best study strategies you used during Year 12 that you could pass on to the Year 12s of today?

I would recommend finding a routine and a place where you study best and sticking to this as closely as possible. At school we would have a set time to study each night which gave me a really good sense of structure which I could follow consistently. My biggest piece of advice however, and something I cannot emphasise enough, is to ensure you are studying without distractions! You will get a lot more done a lot faster when your phone is away.

Were there times you felt burnt out during Year 12? What did you do to relax?

There were definitely times when I felt burnt out and stressed; it’s hard to avoid in such a busy year. Although football was adding to this busy schedule, I found my sport a useful thing to give me a chop out from schoolwork and take my mind off study.

Why do you think it’s important for aspiring athletes to keep up their schoolwork, even if they’re aiming to become a professional athlete?

A sporting career is a relatively short window in the scheme of your entire life and it is hard to find yourself in the position where your sport alone is enough to be sufficient. Hence, it is important to have something else to come back to. Maintaining your studies allows you to keep your options open for the future.

Based on your experience as an AFLW player and a university student, what advice can you give to students still in high school about the skills that are useful for life after Year 12?

Being able to form strong routines and having self-discipline will hold you in good stead for life post-Year 12. After leaving school, a lot of the structure you are used to is gone, hence these are useful skills that will ensure you remain motivated in whatever you choose to do in the future.