Some students I meet with have a very definitive answer to the question of, “Do you want to play sports in college?” It’s either a resounding yes, or a clear no. But, for many students, the answer isn’t so clear-cut; I get a lot of “I don’t know yet.” And, while it’s understandable, and it’s a big decision, it could completely change the direction of your college search. The sooner you know the answer to this, the better.
If you are on the fence, what do you do? Here are some tips that can help:
Talk with friends
To get a clear sense of what playing sports in college is like, go directly to the source…friends who play sports in college. Social media makes it easy to stay connected to older friends who have already graduated and are attending college. Find the ones who are playing sports, and whose opinion you value, and ask them what it’s like. As them the pros and cons of playing sports at the collegiate level and open up about any reservations you may have. You should be able to get some good insight this way.
Talk with college coaches
It also makes sense to talk with the coaches of the team you are thinking of joining. Ask them what the chances are you will make the team, what its like playing for them, and make sure have a good connection with them. Be honest about your skills, challenges and ask any relevant questions. For more information about contacting college coaches, see this previous blog.
Talk with your current high school coach
Chances are that your high school coach either played sports in college themselves or has good knowledge about college athletics that could be helpful to you. Ask them for an honest assessment of your skill level, and if they know your personality well, ask them honestly if they think playing sports in college would be a good match for you.
Meet the teams
When you take a tour of a college, contact the coach or athletic director before you go and let them know you have an interest in playing for their team. It’s not uncommon for a coach to arrange a meeting between a prospective student-athlete and the current team, or a couple current players. This can be a great way to figure out if you would want to join that team or not.
Attend camps and clinics
To get a sense for the competitiveness of college athletics and where your skills would fit, attend an athletic camp or clinic where college coaches will be present. You can talk with coaches and they can assess your skills and personality to see if you would be a good addition to their team.
Playing sports in college can change the game significantly. It can change the size of the school you want to attend, the location, and other characteristics of the school. Many students find playing sports in college very rewarding and not as time-consuming as you may think. Parents, college counselors, coaches, teachers and friends are all good sources of information to help you make this decision.