It’s March. For high school athletes who are college bound that means the summer conditioning and physical preparation packets will be arriving in a while. They’re often received with a mix of excitement, confusion, shock and anxiety; natural reactions to the challenge of moving to the next level. Over the past 15 years of helping players make that leap three things have proven helpful in the transition and give players a leg up on the process when they arrive on campus in the summer.
Interpret and Translate
When you open that E-mail or packet it can be overwhelming. The language is new, there are calendars, standards, workouts, schedules, and often information on nutrition, rest and mental preparation. Even the most successful club and high school players find it daunting. So first, it’s important to understand what’s there and put it in context. There’s a logic, goals and a set of principles behind the plan. Seeing the plan as a coach’s way of helping the team and players be successful can change something like the fitness standards from an obstacle to a stepping stone on a path toward contributing and accomplishing goals. It doesn’t make it easier but it becomes a challenge to rise to more than something to fear.
Taking all the pieces and laying them out in one place on a single calendar can help players see how the parts make a whole; how one phase leads to the next and how the elements like speed, agility, strength and stamina fit together. If there are standards or tests you need to pass understand what they are, what they measure and how to prepare for them. Making the unfamiliar more familiar helps reduces some of the emotional static and makes the plan feel challenging but doable.
Once you have a sense of where you’re going, get a sense of where you are. If the program has hang cleans in the work out and you’ve never been in the weight room then you just need to build a bridge from here to there. The first step might simply be getting some coaching. If you’re expected to run ten 110 yard striders and you’ve never done one, then start there with five of them. You will get a picture of where you are and when we know where we’re starting we can create the steps to get on the coaches plan and get to campus ready to go.
This is huge. Working with a qualified, experienced strength and conditioning coach makes a big difference physically and mentally. On the physical side a coach should help you look at what parts of the plan can you do on your own or with your team and what parts make sense for to do together. Then they can help you build a schedule. Every player is unique. Some players have worked with me 4 or 5 days a week, individually or in a group. Others maybe once or twice a week. An experienced coach can help you create the workout schedule to fit you and your needs. If there’s a standard or a test to pass a coach can help you practice it to become familiar with it, benchmark it and help you learn from it so you can meet the expectation when you get to camp.
The mental side is often the bigger part of support. Having someone who is trained and experienced who can stand outside the process while you go through it is extremely valuable. Good coaching provides the right amount of challenge and encouragement.
Start By Working From The Inside Out
When we’re feeling challenged one of the most important things we can do is stay connected with our goals and values. Why am I doing this? What do I want? What am I expecting or hoping for? Those conversations can happen both inside and outside the gym. Developing that clarity and being able to come back to it is even more valuable in some dorm room in August when you’re away from home and exhausted.
The Best Time To Start Is Now
You don’t need to have it all figured out to get started. In fact, you can’t. This is not just an advanced version of high school or club. This is new territory. Mark Twain wrote, ” Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” If you begin now you can put the things in place that you will need to start working on your college program when it arrives. What you may not realize is that the plan you get is the same plan that the rest of the team gets, players who have been training at a college level for a few years. Start now and you’ll be building the capacity to train at that higher level and get the most out of your plan when it arrives. It’s a great feeling to be able to jump into that packet when it comes with confidence.
For those who are moving to a new level it’s an exciting and challenging time. It’s supposed to be. Having a plan, being supported and remembering why it’s important can make it immensely rewarding as well. If you’re going to be taking that next step and you want some help. Let us know. A lot of players have come through Kick-It! Training on their way to creating some pretty cool things for themselves.