Conditioning in the NCAA

What High School Athletes Need to Know About Preparing for the NCAA

Though this can depend on where you went to high school, chances are that the conditioning you encounter in the NCAA will be harder than what you are used to.  This has to do with a few things: talent, program standards, and the differences in training staffs.

College Sports Recruiters Bring in Talent, Ensuring a High Speed of Play

Conditioning in the NCAA is often a direct function of the talent that defines it. In high school, the talent levels are often dispersed, with some schools garnering a lion’s share of the wins and skill.   Though almost every school will have a star player on the roster, chances are that some opponents are simply just more talented than others. In college everyone can play. Almost every player on every roster will have been recruited, and often they’re just different versions of those star players that you experienced every year in highschool. 

College Coaches Set Custom Program Standards

Advantages in the NCAA are often found in work ethic, coaching, and preparation. More times than not, these three combine in the form of conditioning.  If you play a cardio-based sport, you will likely have a mile test. Regardless of what sport you play, expect sprints to be incorporated at some point. These can come in the form of shuttles, wind-sprints, hills, long-distance sprints, or some combination of all four, so get your cardio in regardless.

Each coach will operate under their own specific program standards, and thus will have specific physical goals they expect players to meet.  Some coaches value strength over speed, while others may be the opposite. Whatever program you end up going to, expect the coaching staff to provide you with an offseason training regimine, as well as specifications of their regulated fitness tests.

If you want to get an idea of what kind of training regimens are incorporated in a program, watch the team play.  Fast teams typically incorporate a lot of cardio, while bigger teams may focus on strength building. Watching a team perform can allow you to see what they do well from a strictly physical standpoint.

Get Ahead of other High School Recruits; Learn to Lift Properly

Lifting becomes second nature in college, though it’s mostly crossfit style now, which is designed to emulate game play. One way to get ahead of other high school athletes is to focus on your lifting techniques in high school.  This can help you stand out physically from other recruits, but also ensure that you are able to transition seamlessly between your high school training regimine, and the one you will utilize in college.

The training staff at your school will most likely incorporate some sort of standardized crossfit lifting program.  This can be new to athletes who came from a smaller high school, as the training staffs at colleges tend to be more hands-on.  Training regimens can be handed out at the beginning of every school break, and fitness tests are often utilized when students return.  Team lifts are standard, and you will probably encounter exercises that you haven’t done before. The training staff will be on your side though, and it’s almost impossible for an athlete to enter college and leave weaker than they came. 

You get stronger, faster and tougher every day.

Winning in College Sports Happens in the Offseason

Frankly, keeping up with players who might be more talented than you are comes down to what kind of shape you are in.  Even the best players get beat when they’re tired, and the way to keep up with a player who might be purely more talented than you are is to outwork them.  The bottom line is that everyone you encounter in the NCAA will have talent.

Some Players will have a specific strength, while some will do everything well. Some will mirror your former high school teammates, while other players will simply be better than anyone you’ve played before. The only consistent advantage that can be found in a league defined by talent is hard work and preparation. 

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