The difference between high school and the NCAA

There are a lot of things that go into making the jump from a high school athlete to the NCAA, but the number one difference between is in speed of play.  

The best players in high school make it to college, so essentially playing in college is like playing a regional high school all star team every week. Speed of play increases as the level of technical proficiency goes up.  If you’re playing a team sport, the ball moves quicker, and regardless of what sport you play, your competition just makes less mistakes.

Coaching is different only in the level to which coaches are involved in your life. The reality is, some high school programs have very good coaches and others don’t, so your college coach may or may not be better than your high school coach.

However one thing is for sure: your college coach is far more involved with your life. They know your class schedule, your weekend routines, who your friends are, what your GPA is and what your parents first names are.  This can be overwhelming at first, but in time it allows you to grow exponentially as an athlete.

Practices are different only in that the competition level may increase, as players are all vying for a starting spot and practice is where coaches make the bulk of their roster evaluations. In addition, practices are often held on and off all year, so just because your sport is not in season does not necessarily mean that you have off. The level of intensity is balanced by the fact that physical recovery is simply faster in the NCAA than in high school. The team doctors are better, the equipment is usually more expensive and the staff are full time. This means injuries get diagnosed quicker and rehab takes less time.  

The fanbase can vary depending on your school, with some schools boasting tens of thousands of fans at home events while others only have a few hundred, so it’s important to consider how important school spirit is to you when selecting a school. Another aspect of NCAA athletics is that each school will have a section of die hard, lifelong fans no matter where you go. These fans may just be former students, but often times they are donors. Donors are one aspect of the NCAA that isn’t necessarily as prevalent in high school. Donors give money to the program, and are 99% of the time former players who were successful in their professional pursuits after graduation. Chances are you will meet them at games or even recruiting trips.  

Finally, one of the most important things you can anticipate in the NCAA is the level of camaraderie that you experience. When you join an NCAA team, you really do spend a majority of your time with your teammates, and this almost always results in a level of brother or sister hood that is unmatched at the high school level. The teammates you have in college will most likely be your friends for life.

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