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A personalised online education as a solution for supporting young elite athletes

A personalised online education as a solution for supporting young elite athletes
Tennis player girl on the field

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

- Aristotle

Elite young athletes pursuing excellence in their chosen sport will be well aware of the passion and dedication required to be the best. This is not a one off act, but requires daily training and commitment. This lifestyle is simply not supported by traditional mainstream education in schools, where students have to be there from 8.30-3.30 Monday to Friday. Education is a gradual process of accumulation and ongoing learning, and cannot be easily caught up after a sporting career. It must run alongside it, with excellence becoming a daily habit.

Online schooling provides a flexible and personalised alternative, meaning that students can still achieve academic excellence alongside training for sport. Instead of going to school each day, they can study online from anywhere in the world, at times of day that suit their training programme, the only requirement being a stable internet connection. This enables excellence both in sport and school to become part of the daily routine, meaning that neither are compromised.

Key benefits of online schooling for young athletes

  1. A personalised approach
  2. Less pressure and worry
  3. Learn from anywhere in the world
  4. No missed school
  5. More training time
  6. An excellent education
  7. Plan for the future
  8. Mutual benefits of sport and education


  1. A personalised approach for young athletes

Online education harnesses the power of technology to provide young elite athletes with the opportunity to be taught by qualified teachers, online in real-time. Matthew Syed, a writer on high performance sport, argues that “child prodigies do not have unusual genes; they have unusual upbringings”. These ‘unusual upbringings’ offer the opportunity for young people to spend thousands of hours pursuing their chosen sport. Mainstream schooling cannot work with this, but for many elite athletes gaining a quality education is not a compromise they want to make for their sport. Online schooling provides the solution to this, enabling the unusual upbringings which are essential to pursuing an elite sporting career from an early age.

  1. Less stress and pressure

Online schooling also reduces a huge emotional strain on young people trying to balance mainstream schooling and their training, making it as easy as possible for them to attend school and study. This results in a healthier work-life balance, and a reduced likelihood of mental health illness.

  1. Learn from anywhere- more training time- no missed school

No matter where students are in the world, they can ‘go to school’, online. This is a very common approach to education used by young athletes, who spend a lot of time travelling and training. This flexibility in education provides more time to travel and train, by reducing the need to travel to and from school, to be in school during certain hours, and enabling the ability to seize key opportunities, such as good weather conditions, when they occur.

  1. No missed school

While training demands often result in missed school days, missed lessons, a lack of understanding, and consequent fears of getting behind, online schooling means that students no longer miss school days, and can remain up to date with their education.

  1. More training time

While the commitment of mainstream schooling and training for sport may be compromised by each other, studying online means that students have more time to train. For those doing weather dependent sports like skiing for example, this means that they can seize opportunities to make the most of these conditions, without missing lessons.

  1. An excellent education

Students pursuing excellence in sport do not have to compromise their ability to achieve excellence in their academic life. Online education offers a number of advantages over mainstream education. Disruptions are kept to a minimum in the online classrooms due to the small class sizes. These also mean that teachers get to know their students, and personalise each lesson to suit their individual learning needs. Lessons are designed to suit the abilities and learning styles of each student, whilst following the British national curriculum. All of the teachers are qualified subject specialists, who use a variety of diverse learning methods, such as quizzes, interactive whiteboard and screen sharing, to keep lessons engaging and interesting. Students sign up to take international GCSE and A-Level exams at their local examination centre, which enable them to apply for courses and further university education. This means that their parents do not bear the weight of educating their child whilst on the move, and juggling their own work. They can relax in the knowledge that their child is receiving an excellent British education from qualified subject specialists with years of teaching experience. This approach to homeschooling is permitted by the headteacher of the student’s school, and approval of the Local Education Authority (LEA).

  1. Planning for the future

Elite athletes learn how to manage their own time, by fitting studies around their training programmes, as well as turning up on time, dedicating themselves, and maintaining a busy workload. These are key life skills for whatever they take on in the future, and an excellent opportunity to become resilient and adaptable working adults. Many parents express concern that their child’s passion for their sport compromises their education, and fear for what they will do should they become injured, or after retiring from sport. By gaining good educational qualifications whilst studying, young people have the opportunity to gain employment during, or after their sporting career. This means that they have a ‘Plan B’ up their sleeve in case of adversity, an opportunity to pursue professional goals too, and gain key educational knowledge and skills to complement their sporting achievements.

  1. Mutual benefits of an excellent education and sporting achievement

The traits of a top level athlete are often similar to those who achieve highly in school, and excelling in school and sport does not have to be mutually exclusive. Many great athletes are also great thinkers, and young athletes go on to pursue high flying careers. The skills that are learned in sport are incredibly transferable to education. Young athletes learn how to commit to a training regime, the benefits of learning from failure, perseverance through adversity, problem solving in areas of weakness, and determination to achieve a goal. From a physical perspective, exercise stimulates the brain, making learning and understanding easier. A busy schedule means that when students study, they cannot afford to waste time and procrastinate, making them more efficient at getting the job done. Online schooling adds structure, routine, and stability to ever changing and hectic training regimes, and offer the chance to channel energies into something other than sport.


Young athletes can excel in both sport and education through flexible online learning that works around their schedules. While many cannot imagine life without sport, life in the modern world without educational credentials can be incredibly difficult. The drive and time management skills of young athletes translates well into dedication to studying. Many go on to achieve great things in their academic and professional lives alongside their sporting careers, and be the best in all areas of their lives. Studying online from anywhere in the world ensures that young people continue to pursue excellence every single day, the hidden logic of success which enables them to pursue their dreams.

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