March 09, 2021

Lifestyle Management is a common area that athletes struggle with when balancing training, competition preparation, education, and even part-time jobs with down-time and their social lives.

"How can I better manage my lifestyle as an athlete?"

The question comes up every year at the #WePlay Inspiring Girls in Sport Conference, so we chatted to Olympian and Sport Ireland Institute Head of Performance Life Skills Eoin Rheinisch.

Eoin, a former slalom canoeist and three-time Olympian, now helps other Olympic hopefuls and Olympians to balance the busy life of an athlete! Here he gives you the breakdown of how he builds these coping strategies with Ireland's elite athletes.

Plan Your Time

Planning properly puts you in control of your time and helps you focus and manage your energy, so you can minimise those pesky overwhelming feelings, and focus more on the controllables!

Key planning principles:

  • Big Picture Planning
  • Little Picture Planning
  • To Do Lists

Big Picture Planning

Big Picture Planning is an overview of how you are going to complete a long-term goal. Start this plan with the end in mind, which might be your target competition and exam dates, or a big trip or move.

Work backwards from there to establish milestones - smaller competitions, time trials or key sessions, assignment deadlines and mock exams. Remember to also add in any travel and big social occasions.

Top Tips:

  • Information gathering – what do I need to know? Dates of competitions, trips, exams, assignment deadlines.
  • Who needs to know and who can support me? Communicate with your coaches and teachers to let them know if you have any clashes and what is coming up for you in the weeks and months ahead.
  • What resources / services do I need? Reading lists, tutoring sessions, sports massage, physio input etc.

With that overview mapped out, now your little picture planner will fill in the gaps in between these milestones!

Little Picture Planning

Little Picture Planning is a daily/weekly planner that helps ensure all your commitments receive adequate time, including rest and down-time.

Making the time to set this up will mean you know every hour of every day what tasks you need to do.

Start filling this in by adding the any milestones that appear on your Big Picture Planner that are coming up that week. Then fill in the more daily tasks of your week like training, classes, work shifts, or meetings.

Once those are filled in you can add additional activities, like study time or relaxation or social engagements.

This weekly plan will then align with your bigger picture planning, highlighting upcoming competitions, assignment deadlines or annual leave from work.

Top Tips:

  • Daily / weekly diary planning should include your swim / dryland sessions and your educational classes as well as setting time aside for friends, family and recovery.
  • Set time aside each evening to plan what you need to do the next day, give as much detail as you can!
  • Keep your weekly planner adaptable, making sure the schedule is flexible enough to allow for down time and to do at least one thing a day that you enjoy or find helpful in reducing stress.

To Do Lists - Worry Less - List More!

Whether you are an athlete, coach or parent, To Do list's should be your best friend! Keep and update weekly lists, detailing what needs to be done and when by. Check your list each week, marking off what you have done and reminding yourself of what you need to do.

Using your To Do List together with your weekly plan is a powerful combination! They can also come in handy competitions to give you the confidence that:

  • You have everything you need
  • You know the tasks you need to do
  • You know who you need to meet with
  • You know where you need to be


Download the tools below to create your own planners!

These tools will help you prepare for busy periods and stay stress free! Complete on your laptop or phone and maybe even print off each week to stick up on your wall at home, as a reminder of where you’re at and where you’re headed!


Schedule Time To De-Stress & Socialise!

Eoin caught up with our National Swimming Squad recently to discuss planning during Covid-19 and how to schedule in activities outside of training to de-stress and socialise.

The swimmers came up huge list of activities that have helped them recently, so we have picked the top 10 below.

They picked three activities to commit to doing over the next two weeks, which three will you pick?

  • Netflix Watch Party
  • Play with friends online on the House Party App
  • Call of Duty with friends online (War Zone was of particular discussion!)
  • Walking the dog or out with mum, dad, brother, sister or grandparents from the household.
  • Card and board games online with friends.
  • Quiz Night!
  • Virtual Bake Off
  • DIY – build something for the house or garden – warmer days are coming!
  • Facetime with friends and family
  • Read a book – especially before bed to help get to sleep

If you found this article from the Sport Ireland Institute helpful, you might also be interested in:

Fuelling for Lockdown 3.0

3 Healthy Snacks in 30 Minutes

Staying Fit & Healthy During COVID-19

And all our resources available at: Sports Science