The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
Once you sign a National Letter of Intent, it’s human nature to relax, take a deep breath and enjoy what you’ve accomplished. If you’re like most athletes, the hard work both on the field and in the classroom started as early as middle school. When you got to high school, the classes got harder and the competition more intense. With school work, practice, lessons, camps, and tournaments I bet you missed a few parties to play in a game, or a trip to the lake because your summer team had a tournament. Let’s face it, competitive athletics is a sacrifice.
That said, the reward of an athletic scholarship is worth it. And, if you’re one of the few with the talent to play at the next level, you have to realize that once you get to college even more will be expected of you. Here are three suggestions that should make the transition from playing in high school to playing in college a little easier.
1. Be prepared when you step on campus
When you sign, the recruiting process is over, but your collegiate career has just begun. You can’t afford to hit the brakes; you have to accelerate. You don’t want to just show up to college; you want to be ready to go from day one.
Many scholarship athletes come to college expecting to have significant playing time right away, but the truth is, there are no guarantees. Believe it or not, you’re not the only player the coaches signed. In addition to competing for playing time with the new crop of signees, you’ll also be competing for playing time against the current players on the roster, the proven veterans. They have the advantage. The level of competition will significantly increase, and you’ll need to be ready to compete when you arrive on campus.
2. Size up the competition before you arrive
Once you sign, if you want to play as quickly as possible then it’s not a bad idea to “size up” the roster. Here are a few suggestions:
- Determine who you will be competing against for playing time. If they are upperclassmen, figure out what they do well and commit to doing it better.
- Analyze how many players are there at your position and decide how you stack up. You might want to spend additional time in the weight room or refining your skills before you hit campus.
- Ask the coaches what you need to do to contribute to the team as quickly as possible.
It’s no fun to sit on the bench, so be as prepared as possible before you move into your dorm room.
3. Understand that college life is an adjustment
College life is an adjustment for all students, not just for athletes. You’re on your own for the first time, you need to learn how to manage your time, learn some self-discipline and figure out how much you need to study to keep your grades up. Once you add the requirements of being a college athlete, college life can be overwhelming. The athletes who take the time to plan their class schedule, take advantage of the tutors offered by the team and work hard, generally adjust much faster and play much sooner.
Playing a sport in college is not like a full-time job, it is a full-time job. College athletes can spend as much as 50-60 hours per week at practice, watching game film, lifting weights and preparing for games. Being a college athlete will be one of the biggest commitments of your life, so you better be prepared for the grind and just know the rewards are worth it.