Updated 16th October 2020 Paddy Doran Cycling blog

Study cycling and sport do mix

Study and train for cycling sport

Cycling can and sports participation can actually help students exam performances. A major study by ESRI have shown that sport participation during exam years generally has a positive effect on exam results.

Largest study ever

This was “The largest study of participation in sport and exercise ever conducted in Ireland… provides evidence for policy from three large nationally representative surveys of activity, covering everyone from primary school children to older adults

Cycling has high retention rate

The research has also identified cycling as having a high retention rate

Key findings include:

  • Almost all primary schoolchildren engage in regular sporting activity – it’s what happens after that stage that is a cause for concern.
  • Many children drop out of regular activity during the second-level years, especially girls.
  • School exams have a strong negative impact: students participate less in exam years and this has a lasting effect on whether they are active in later years.
  • Students who play sport get, on average, better Leaving Certificate results.
  • Activity as an adult is less related to attitudes and beliefs than to life events: most adults believe sporting activity is good for them and want to be more active, but leaving education, work commitments, relocations and family responsibilities lead many to drop out.
  • Cycling and, in particular, swimming, are most likely to persist into later adulthood; Gaelic games meanwhile have a high drop-out rate.
  • New sporting activities are mostly taken up through social connections with friends, colleagues and family members; finding facilities is not a barrier.
  • These factors lead to a widening socio-economic gap as people progress through adulthood – the less well-off are more likely to drop out from sport as young adults and less likely to take up new activities.

Lost to cycling sport

For a number of years the fashion was for a lot of Irish Junior cyclists to take a year out from competition and training to concentrate on study and exams. As the ESRI report highlights, most of these riders didn’t return to the sport.

Cycling can help leaving cert results

It seems that cycling is often a lifelong activity and exercise, and sport does help with study in some way..Getting some exercise after periods of study can refresh the student physically and mentally

It also shows as we already know that exams are demanding. Combining exams with sport is quite challenging especially an endurance sport like cycling.

However in my experience with a correct approach this is not as big a problem. I have coached riders who achieved very good academic results at leaving cert, and third level along with very good race results in the same year. This included Junior tour of Ireland winners and riders who performed well in U23 international events

Dedication and discipline

These were usually dedicated, disciplined riders with very good time management skills.

168 hours in the week.

There is 168 hours in every week and as little as 4-8 hrs per week will successfully maintain fitness during exams and study periods.So there is no reason to pack in training completely

Then there are lots of school/college holiday periods where there is less emphasis on study. Training volume could be increased then without any adverse effect on academic preparation.

Combining study cycling and sport

So, how can successfully combining academics and sport be achieved? By the Coach and athlete and parents working together. Plan for peaking at certain times and reducing sports demands around exams and study time. Students should ideally get guidance on planning studies timetable and goal setting.

See Full ESRI Report here

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