Sports Sciences and how to manage your time

In previous articles, we’ve shared information to help students deal with common challenges of online learning, such as reducing stress and maintaining good physical and mental health. Today’s article covers tips on time management. Time management is a good skill for anyone to have and we will cover both general tips for UPOnline students as well as some specific tips for students of the Higher Certificate in Sports Science.

The Higher Certificate in Sports Science differs a little from the other UPOnline programmes in that it also has a year-long practical module that runs concurrently with the regular academic modules for the first year. This practical component places students who have other work and family commitments under more time pressure than is the case with the other online programmes.

In addition to the practical, the first two modules of the programme are also the two with the highest credit counts, meaning that students of the Higher Certificate in Sports Science quite literally hit the ground running.

While the workload is a challenge, it can easily be managed with dedication, determination, and most importantly, effective time management. The following guide aims to assist you in managing your time effectively throughout this course, ensuring that you can successfully navigate the various modules while fulfilling other life responsibilities. 

Get orientated

Before you begin, be sure to go through the orientation guide at the start of your programme to learn how the online learning system works. Make use of the resources available there.

You will find various tips and skills for studying online, along with a section on self-motivation and time management. Feel free to download the template to log your hours and set up a routine and schedule.

Remember that even though it is an introductory module, you have access to it all year round.

After you’ve begun your studies, be sure to orient yourself at the start of each module too. All the information you need to complete a task is either in the study guide or in the ClickUP module.


Set a schedule and stick to it!

While the workload does vary at different times of the year, on average this programme requires 21 hours of work per week. This is a large chunk of time and it is very hard to catch up if one falls behind, especially for those with work and family commitments.

Set yourself a weekly schedule that will allow you to cover this amount of work each week. Allocate your study times into manageable slots and be sure to include breaks and leisure time to prevent burnout.

Be realistic about what you can achieve and cope with. While a mid-week session of six hours in one evening may look good on paper, you might find that you can’t focus for that long after a tiring workday.

Plan ahead

Now that we’ve got you following a set schedule, the next step is to plan and adapt your schedule to any changes in workload from week to week.

In particular, look at the outline for the practical and see what is required of you each week. In total, the practical will require you to log 160 hours of fieldwork by week 46, but this is not spread out evenly throughout the year. Some weeks require as little as one hour of fieldwork, while other weeks can have as much as eight hours of fieldwork.

Use this schedule to plan a few weeks ahead and set extra time aside for larger workloads.


Slow and steady wins the race

Completing the higher certificate requires consistent work and effort. Think of it as a marathon and not a sprint. Like the proverbial tortoise racing the hare, consistent plodding along will get you to the finish line far more reliably than an inconsistent series of mad dashes.

You won’t be able to cope if you leave things last minute and try to catch up with late-night cram sessions. Instead, you should put in consistent effort. You should also make it a habit to log into the module at least every second day to check for announcements.

The modules are made up of micro lessons which can be completed quite quickly. This means you can make progress whenever you have a bit of spare time, such as while waiting for dinner to cook or during your work lunch break.

Crowd-source motivation

Keeping motivated is essential to maintain the discipline and dedication needed for this programme. You will of course have your reasons and motivations for having signed up for the programme. While it is important to have your motivation to draw on, you have another fantastic source of motivation studying with UPOnline – your classmates.

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Take the opportunity to interact, participate and engage with others on the online learning platform. Network and make connections. Get a study buddy or set up a group of people. While many assignments are individual assignments, it is always good to work alongside someone.

Doing this will make you feel part of a group or community. This helps whenever you hit challenges that seem daunting as you will know that you are not alone. Being part of a group will also help you feel more accountable for your studies.


Use the breaks

 There is a one-week break between each module. Take advantage of this time to rest and catch up on anything that may have been neglected, such as catching up with friends.

While you should use this time to rest, take the opportunity to see what is in the module ahead. Try to map out what time commitments it will require, and when.


Use the support available

Use the support available. As a UPOnline student, you are well supported throughout your studies. This support is available at many levels – there is support specific to each module, such as the emergency room where students publicly ask and answer questions about the coursework.

At the programme level, there is technical and academic support on offer, and you can always turn to your academic counsellor for advice.

You can ask your lecturer questions privately, but don’t be shy to ask on the support forums for each module if you have a query or concern. It is likely your peers may have the same question and this way you can also help each other.

The University of Pretoria also offers a host of student support services to all students. This ranges from mental health and counselling support to career advice and recruitment opportunities.

Aside from UP resources, there are also many time management tools and apps that you can make use of to help you track and manage your time.


Keep your balance

We’ve mentioned the importance of taking breaks and setting aside time for rest. While this might seem odd when talking about productivity, this is important to avoid burnout. Much like a workout routine should allow time for the body to rest and grow stronger, your study schedule should allow the same for your brain.

To operate at your best, you need to make sure you also eat well, get enough sleep and exercise. Fortunately, with this programme, physical activity is already included in your practicals, so you have got that advantage over students of other purely theoretical programmes.



Balancing the Higher Certificate in Sports Science with other life commitments is undoubtedly challenging, but with careful planning and a focus on maintaining well-being, success is within reach. By following the guidelines laid out in this article, you’ll be well-equipped to manage your time effectively and take full advantage of the opportunities and knowledge you will gain during this programme.

You can also read some previous articles we’ve put together to help balance your study routine, help you deal with stress and share some links to support services offered by the University of Pretoria.