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Don’t Assume You Know What Coaches Are Thinking
It’s easy to think that all college coaches want the same type of players – good players, right! – and they all think the same way. This is a dangerous misperception many young athletes (and their parents) have about college coaches. I do understand the reason for this mentality. At the high school varsity level: stronger, faster and better athletes usually stand head and shoulders above the rest of the competition and their own teammates. These players have always been the GO TO PLAYERS on their teams, are heavily relied upon and their performance usually dictates whether their team wins or loses. It’s not the same in college sports. The players on your college team and the other teams were ALL GO TO PLAYERS on their high school teams. No longer are the stronger, faster and better players HEAD and SHOULDERS above their teammates and the competition. The difference in talent and ability is minimized greatly, competition becomes fierce and the level of play rises. College athletes must evolve and adapt to this different situation or risk failure (see Commentary – The Evolution and Your Career). They start specializing their skills and focusing on specific aspects of the game/sport where they can provide value to their team. In other words, role players are born and are an integral part of all college sports. Here are some examples:
Basketball: A player may not have the scoring prowess they had in high school but focuses on becoming a shut down defensive player and rebounder.
Football: Big sport of transition where many successful high school running backs transition to playing fullback, safety and linebacker (I would imagine at least half the NFL played running back in high school).
Hockey: Top scorers in high school and junior hockey transform their games and focus on being more physical, penalty killing and winning face-offs.
Gymnastics: Top all-around gymnasts in high school start focusing their attention on one or a couple of events to make the overall team better.
Track & Field/Cross-Country: Runners/Sprinter who won every event in high school start focusing and training for specific events (longer or shorter) to not only help their team, but sometimes just to beat out their teammates and compete at meets.
Soccer: A star on a high school or club team adapts to coming off the bench in the late minutes while maintaining performance and focus at a high level.
Skiing (Alpine): A strong slalom skier who may have had a tendency to DNF (Did Not Finish) now works hard to finish races in order to score team points.