With the start of club season, it might not seem like your freshman year of college is quickly approaching. But let me be one of the many to tell you that it will be here before you know it. Aside from continuing to work hard at improving your game, there are plenty of things that you can be doing to help get yourself ready to take that big step from club to college volleyball.
Get to Know Your Teammates
After you've made your commitment, take some time to get to know the other freshmen that are coming in with you. Connect with each other on social media, text back and forth, check to see if you're playing in the same tournaments so you can meet face to face – whatever works for you to establish some sort of relationship. This is a great way to relieve some of your nerves when you arrive on campus in the summer as well as helps your class start bonding long before you hit the court together.
Learn More About the Game
One of the biggest differences between club and college is the speed of the game. The biggest thing you can do to help prepare yourself is to learn as much about volleyball as possible. I think too many times, freshmen come into the gym and are surprised by what they see and it takes them a month or two to get used to that speed. Talk to parents, coaches, and other mentors in your club to see what skills they feel like you could improve on a little more before college season starts. Utilize your existing club network to become the best player you can be before heading off to a new school with a new group of teammates. Above everything else, remember that volleyball is a game of mistakes (even at the highest levels!) so just keep playing.
Manage Your Time
Your club may practice multiple times a week for 2-3 hours a night. It can be hard to manage all of your volleyball obligations in addition to school activities and homework but your schedule will only get crazier in college! The best thing you can do to help get ready is learn how to manage your time and prioritize the important items. Once you become a collegiate athlete, you will have to learn to manage your time wisely and effectively otherwise certain responsibilities will start to fall behind. In college, you will have practice, film sessions, weight lifting and study tables all in addition to your classroom studies. Learn how to manage your time wisely now!
Stay in Shape
While it's important to celebrate your last club season and enjoy your last few days of high school, it's equally as important that you don't get super out of shape in the offseason. By eating right, keeping up with your strength and conditioning work, doing what you can to prevent injuries, and getting plenty of rest you won't fall behind before you head to campus. Pre-season conditioning and workouts can be brutal even if you are in shape, so doing whatever you can to help get the season started on the right foot is a must.
Keep Playing & Have Fun!
Transitioning from club to college volleyball can be an exciting, but stressful, time in your life. When you're feeling overwhelmed, always remember how fun the game can be. This should never change, regardless of the level at which you are playing. Never forget why you started playing volleyball in the first place and why you love the game. The next thing you know you'll be hanging up your jersey after your senior year, looking back at how fast the time flew by!
Written by Ashlee Pritchard
Ashlee Pritchard is the head volleyball coach at Marian University in Indianapolis. This fall she will be in her sixth year leading the Knights. She played four years at Taylor University in Upland, IN. When she is not coaching, she enjoys spending time with her husband, her two year old daughter Charlotte and their English bulldog.