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The huddle

October 24, 2015

10 Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Day of Preseason

Save to my locker

Do the workout packet!

You may be under the assumption that if you sit on your couch all summer and use your fitness packets as a placemat on your dining room table come mid-August you’ll be in good enough shape to pass your fitness tests. My dear friend, I regret to inform you that you couldn’t be more wrong. Self-motivation to go out and run those sprints every day will pay off when you’re on the line running 120’s and crushing it while your teammate, who may not be as fortunate, is struggling to avoid going into cardiac arrest. However even if you’ve been working hard all summer, there’s no way to avoid test anxiety… so what if you pee your pants during the Beep Test because you’re nervous? Move on, I promise you’ll laugh about it later.

How to use half of the machines in the weight room…

Struggling to figure out how to navigate the weight room can be pretty difficult, especially when you go at a time when every other athlete (who actually knows what they’re doing) is in the room. Your best bet is to roll through with your entire team so you claim dominance. Either that, or lift after your 7 am practices, which you’re bound to have. Then have your coach or assistant coach give you a detailed lift and demonstrate correct form so that you don’t throw your back out…I’ve seen it happen to 19 year olds. Finally, act like a boss and refer to your recent excessive need to over eat in the dining hall as “making gains”. FYI – a good DJ on the team plugging in to the speakers in the weight room usually makes the lift more enjoyable.

How legit you’ll feel as an athlete.

All throughout high school sports and travel teams you usually are issued uniforms so you get dressed at home, drive to the games with your parents, and warm up there. Then you play the game, get back in the car, and drive back home. The world of college sports is very different; the athletics facilities are unchartered territory for most student-athletes before you get recruited onto a team. You get a locker room, an athletic training room, an abundance of gear, and even a crew that does your laundry. You also get those legit Gatorade water bottles or huge coolers that make you feel important, at the very least. Even though the facilities and equipment may vary from school to school, it’s pretty cool to be treated close to a professional athlete.

By Day 3 of preseason…everything is going to hurt.

Perhaps by Day 4 if you’re extremely ambitious and overly prepared, however that day will come when you feel the warm-up you’ve been doing 2-3 times each day. Yeah, that warm-up you thought was easy will now feel like torture to all of the muscles in your body. Two-a-days put an enormous amount of physiological stress on the body and no one seems to care that you cant make it up the stairs to your dorm. You must push through! There will also come a day where you wake up and miraculously, you are no longer sore… I can’t tell you how this happens but it does and it’s wonderful.

How much you will love/hate pool sessions.

When you arrive to the pool in your swim attire you will probably be dreading complete submergence in the water. You dip your toes in to test the temperature while others on your squad are jumping right in. Your coach warms you up with a ridiculous amount of laps… you are struggling to even remain afloat. He/she then requests you isolate and just use your legs, then arms, and then she suggests you’ll be doing something “fun” – aka relay races. Some crush the laps while others can barely make it through. You think it’s all over and then your coach brings you into the deep end where you finally see the white light. Your life is officially over as you attempt to tread through water while removing sweatshirts and sweatpants that are soaked in water. Sometimes, however, pool sessions are incredibly helpful for easing the pain of sore muscles.

That you’ll spend every moment either in the dining hall, on the field/court, or in your bed.

In season, your life really will revolve around your sport. Especially during preseason you’ll bounce between 3 main domains: the dining hall, the court/field for practice, and your bed. You’ll treasure the small amounts of leisure time and spend it either alone or with teammates just complaining about how you have no idea how you’re going to participate in another practice. Hopefully your school has a good dining hall because student-athletes eat way more than the NARPs (Non-Athletic Regular People).

You really get to know your teammates, sometimes too well.

With the vast numbers of fun facts you have to come up with for team bonding activities, you really learn a lot about the people on your team. Many hilarious stories are shared and countless inside jokes are made. Your teammates are the ones you go to when you need to make plans on the weekend, or when you just need someone to talk to. You make fun of each other but it’s always in the best way possible. The information you share with one another is either endearing, hysterical, and sometimes downright gross.

Weird rituals your team passes from generation to generation…

Your team will most likely have some weird things they do either before games, practices, or throughout the season in general. Do not be alarmed, most activities are optional but you’ll most likely want to participate. These are the things that make your team special and standout – whether it’s certain songs, dance circles, or handshakes. My best advice is to be open to being silly and comfortable around these people and you’ll have a blast. It’s also really cool to watch things change your freshman to senior year; some things remain the same while some weirdo’s add new traditions for team members to carry on.

One-on-One meetings.

Individual meetings with your coach are inevitably a tad awkward, if not more. Obviously this depends a lot upon factors such as the strength of the relationship between you and your coach, as well as your coach’s personality. Some of the most important things to remember are:

  • Come ready to talk about something specific; do not leave room for awkward pauses
  • Be comfortable talking about whatever concerns or issues you are having and be honest; press for honestly in return
  • Don’t be scared when you enter the room, act confident in carrying out the conversation
  • Lastly, humor helps a lot. Don’t be afraid to form a great relationship with your coach and stop by just to tell them a funny story or catch them up on your week. Open communication is a very successful tool, especially in a team setting.

In the end, it’s all worth it.

Not every day will seem perfect, but on those days try to remember all the things that are positively associated with the sport you love. Your passion for the game should always override any negative feelings you may develop. One of the biggest takeaways from college sports is gaining a second family; this means additional siblings, parents, grandparents and pets. These amazing people will provide you with a ton of tailgate food and necessary hugs. Additionally, you are cultivating friendships that will last a lifetime. In the end, the memories that you’ll have and cherish from collegiate sports are far greater than anything you’ve ever experienced on a team before. The last thing I wish I knew before my first day of preseason is cherish every moment, because 4 years is over quicker than you think.