Post By: Emily Cohn  | Thursday, March 19, 2020

athlete transition sport dance change

“Change is scary, no matter who you are and no matter how old you are.”I forget who the first person to tell me this was, probably my parents, and it has been a recurring theme throughout my entire life and probably yours too. It really boils down to this, nothing worth doing is easy and jitters or butterflies mean you care.

This post is going to focus on the transition from high school to college athletics. Regardless of the division your new school is in, you are still once again going to be the new kid on the team, a feeling you have probably had multiple times in your life.I would like this blog post to serve as a guideline for how you can successfully make that transition from high school to college athletics. Though truth be told, the lessons in this article can also apply if you're starting a new job, on a new film, joining a new band, or auditioning for a new dance troupe. Let's take a closer look.

Enjoy your high school season

It is extremely important to focus on your goals that are controllable during your high school season.Planning for the future is important but how you approach the present is the only thing you can truly control.Have performance based goals (i.e. team records, personal records) but also be very aware of the emotions that surround your season.Start compiling a list of your favorite moments with your team or coaches and break down why they made you so happy. The questions below can help you focus on these issues.

  • What lead up to those moments?
  • Were you always this happy with this group of people?
  • What were some hard times you overcame on that team and how did you overcome them?

If your highschool season came to an end abruptly due to COVID-19, please see “coping with corona” below for some suggestions on how to handle that scenario.

In answering these questions you will not only have created a catalog of positive memories about your high school sporting experience, but you will also have a new sense of what you are looking for in your future team. Additionally, it may help you realize that your entire high school career was not perfect but that you succeeded in persevering.

What are you looking for in your college experience?

The most interesting societal change I've seen in the last ten years, is that high schoolers, and especially high school athletes, are thinking about their college placement earlier and earlier in their high school career.Planning ahead is good, and it is also important to make sure that you don't let your plan for the future override your experiences in the present.It is important to have an idea of where you want to play in college, and also try to have that idea be more about the general college experience rather than getting locked into one specific school just based on the name.When thinking about your college career start to answer these questions:

  • How far do I want to be from home?
  • What climate (hot/cold) is most conducive to motivate me toward my goals?
  • What team environment am I looking for?
    • Collaborative “team democracy”
    • Hierarchy – what the coach says goes
  • What do you want to major in?
    • Your experience is just as much about school as it is your sport

In order to best help with the transition from high school to college, I would start answering these questions whenever you start to have those conversations with coaches and teachers about your college career.This way you can approach college coaches with questions that go deeper than “will I start as a freshman” and ask questions like “if I am struggling, who do I go to for help”.

Accept the change

Every season is new for every team across every sport every year.Whether you are the senior or the freshman, there are new people coming in and that changes the team dynamic.It is the way you approach the change that determines the outcome of your season.If you are a senior in high school going to freshman in college, you will have more changes to encounter than just new teammates.New school, new teachers, new roommates (maybe for the first time) so when you are going through change all you have control over is how you communicate your emotions and tackle these new problems.As an athlete, you are in the unique position to have a group of people with similar goals and similar understanding of experiences.ASK QUESTIONS.

If you are experiencing a transitional period that is not what is discussed above, the moral of the story is ask questions.Ask yourself questions- what are you feeling, have you felt this before, why? And ask OTHER people questions- have they experienced this? How did they deal with it?

Change in life is inevitable.Your preparation and approach can help reduce stress, which will result in a more productive transition.