5 Signs College is Going to Be a Bad Experience

I don’t like to give out advice beyond my professional qualification, however I hear this frequently from parents,

“Could you tell her ______________. She won’t listen to me, but she will if you say it.”

I don’t know what causes the reflex to totally disregard anything parents say, but I sure can relate to it (just ask my mom). For example, I get my business advice from business experts and my mom gets her fitness advice from..

dr oz…so the battle goes both ways.

Athletes, your parents worry. I don’t even have kids and I’m already stressing about what it would be like to send my daughter to college.

College can be difficult at least, and dangerous at worst. It can set you up for a happy, fulfilled life or it can be the most expensive waste of time for you and your parents.

So athletes, let me be the bearer of objective judgement and point out some of the things you should be working on away from the softball field this summer to make college a better experience.

I generally don’t like using a negative title or tone, but I truly believe you only learn from hard lessons, and generally speaking, our soft adolescents need more tough love nowadays.

Here are some habits you need to kick before college:

Getting out of bed is difficult

  • Here’s a fact: NO ONE likes to get up early. 15, 25, 55 years old. No one. So don’t think it gets easier as you get older. It gets “easier” because you have REAL responsibilities and REAL priorities. Sleep in on the weekends. Get up before 7am during the week, regardless of class schedule.
  • Getting up earlier means you won’t have to wait for a shower. You won’t have to wait in line at breakfast and the food won’t be picked over. The gym won’t be crowded and the library won’t be a people-watching frenzy.
  • When you’re 22, you’re going to want million-dollar life advice. Let me tell you, NOTHING is more valuable than having more time during the day to GET **** DONE. Don’t waste it now.

You’re easily distracted

  • I see this in athletes all the time. “She does this.” “They do that.” “Her coach knows so and so.” STOP WORRYING ABOUT EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING ELSE. The only thing you can control is the amount of focus you put into the task in front of you. Worrying about other garbage, whether it’s social or softball related, redistributes your focus elsewhere making you less effective at MAKING YOURSELF BETTER.
  • One thing you need to understand, if not fear, is: There are no safety nets in college. No one to wake you up. No one to make sure your work is done. And college is FULL of distractions, which I don’t think I need to explain. Getting back to my first point, get up earlier and get work done to make time for “distractions” later.

You overreact when things don’t go your way

  • I sat on the bench my freshmen year of college for the first 17 games. Not one at-bat. I wasn’t even the guaranteed backup at any position. I was moved to first base, which I’d never played, when the committee of three upperclassmen couldn’t produce offensively. In my first game I batted seventh. In my second I batted fifth. In my third I batted fourth. I remained as the three or four batter for the next three and a half years. You cannot overreact when things don’t go your way. And always, always be ready.

You’re injury prone

  • This isn’t exactly a habit, but let’s face it, some kids seem to get injured every sports season. Caring for your injuries is easy when you’re home. You go home and ice. You schedule appointments with your physical therapist or see a chiropractor or massage therapist who is a family friend. This will NOT be the case in college. The athletic training room will be FULL of upperclassmen athletes and football players (or whoever the premier sport athletes may be) absorbing the attention of the athletic trainers. Most likely you will be told to rest, ice and stretch.
  • You also need to realize that there will be other freshmen athletes healthy and ready to compete for your position. In high school, your position could be filled temporarily until your return. In college, your temporary absence can EASILY turn into a permanent position for another player who (see above) stayed ready.
  • If you have been “patching leaks” the past few seasons you NEED to take action before your boat sinks. “My back has always hurt a little” is NOT a good thing. “My shoulder is always sore at the beginning of the season, but it loosens up” is NOT a good thing. See a doctor to have these injuries screened and/or start a strength training program immediately.

You don’t go to the gym

  • As I alluded to, getting stronger will help you stay injury free and will allow you to perform when your opportunity comes. Learning how to lift weights will also give you more options once you get to the fitness center and find the ellipticals and treadmills are (always) taken.
  • Not to be overlooked, exercising is important for health. What’s worse than being sick? Being sick, 200 miles from home, and trying to get a good night’s sleep when your roommate is awake doing things that somehow couldn’t be done anywhere else on campus. Exercising will also help combat your “college diet”.

How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything

People say playing sports in college isn’t worth it because it takes up so much time and doesn’t pay you back once you graduate. Reread the advice above.

I’m not talking to future college athletes. I’m talking to future employees and future parents.

Whether you’re working your way up the ladder or planning to raise a family..

Get up and get prepared for the day.

Focus on your responsibilities that day.

Don’t overreact when things don’t go as planned that day.

Do something to take care of your body that day.

Being a college athlete gives you an OPPORTUNITY to install habits that will pay you back in insurmountable ways for the rest of your life. Use this summer to start practicing these habits before your first day of classes. And most importantly, trust me on this one, start listening to your parents.




About the author

Joe Bonyai

Joe Bonyai is a strength and conditioning specialist and co-founder of Fastpitch Power. Joe operates Empower Athletic Development, a speed, strength and conditioning business for competitive athletes in Westchester, NY. Joe also authors a multi-sport training blog at www.Empower-ADE.com. Feel free to connect with Joe through Facebook at www.facebook.com/JJBonyai.

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