“I hated every minute of training, but I said, Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” Muhammad Ali
If you are playing sports during your high school years, chances are you have at least thought about whether or not you will play in college. It’s important to remember that the opportunities to play sports in college are much less than those in high school and you will have to make quite a few sacrifices if that is what you want to do.
There are quite a few differences between high school and college athletics that you also need to be aware of as you make your decision. Your ability to handle these differences with the right approach will be essential in making sure you are successful as a college athlete.
Managing Your Time
For many of you, college will be the first time you have complete control of what you do with your time. This is a big deal, and is a factor that makes the experience completely different from your time playing sports in high school. Instead of having classes for a few hours in the afternoon and then heading to training for a couple of hours after school, the college class schedule is much more flexible.
You may have days with no classes, classes in the evening, or one in the morning and so on. You have to ensure that you use the newfound flexibility and freedom wisely in order to make sure you keep up with both your academic and athletic requirements. You might see the fact that you have more free time as no big deal, but remember there is also a greater number of distractions and choices to make.
It is also important to realize that college sports will require more of your time than at the high school level. You may have had a couple of hours of practice a day during your high school season, with games only a few hours away at most. For the majority of you, college sports will demand much more such as off-season training for NCAA Division I athletes, early morning weight sessions, long bus trips or even plane rides to compete, and attending all kinds of meetings. In addition to taking care of your academic priorities and getting enough rest, that leaves only a few hours a week of real free time.
Managing your time wisely will take adjustment, but it is absolutely essential.
Everybody is Super Talented
Due to the limited spaces in college athletics compared to the number of high school athletes available, most of those athletes who do get the chance to go on to play in college are the best of the best.
You might come from a situation where you were the star of your high school team, with All-State and maybe even All-American selections to your name; however in college sports, it will quickly be pretty clear to you that the majority of your teammates are on the same level. This can come as a shock to some athletes making the transition from high school level to college level, and they may not be equipped to respond properly to this new situation.
It means competition for places will be even more intense and you will need to work harder to improve and separate yourself from your peers if you have ambitions of being an important contributor. Some very good high school athletes decide that it’s too tough for them and end up quitting during their college years while others use the fact that they are surrounded by more talented athletes all the time to make themselves even better.
Competing Hard All the Time
The athletes who make it to college are not only the best of the best in terms of their technical and tactical attributes, but also because of their drive to compete and get better. While in high school you may have been able to get away with coasting through some games because your talent level, or that of your whole team, didn’t require you to be at peak condition to win. That will not be the case at all in college.
Since most of your teammates will also be of a similar skill level, you will have to compete very hard in every single practice if you want to win or keep a starting spot. In order to win, with players of similar calibre on the opposing team, you will also need to compete just as aggressively in each game that you play. This means giving all-out effort at all times, but doing so fairly.