The goal of many young athletes is to reach the professional sports arena. In most cases this is following a successful collegiate athletic career. The transition from high school sports to the collegiate level is one of the most difficult and demanding processes that a young athlete may face. One factor that can play a huge role in these athletes is the mental adjustment of going from the ‘Big Fish’ in the little pond to the ‘Little Fish’ in the enormous pond. Many of these athletes will be coming from a town where they were the top player on the team and have gotten accustomed to seeing their name in the local newspaper. Although these athletes are still at the top of their game, they must come to realize that they are now, most of the time, in a system where the past is the past and their success is only measured based on their current and future dedication and performance. Another obstacle to overcome is the increased athletic responsibilities on top of college classes as well as living away from home (most of the time for the first time) which tend to make the lives of these freshman student-athletes increasingly stressful. Time management also becomes an overwhelming issue that many students are challenged by.
A recent research article in Psychology of Sports & Exercise, Sept. 2010, concludes that “The transition to university was perceived as a process rather than an event, with considerable pre-emptive work taking place in the lead up to the move.” One of the first steps for these athletes is to realize that there will be a vast amount of other athletes at their school that are far better than them and have been through the ‘system’. Many times the high school athlete may feel that they know the ‘right’ way to condition and weight train but in the competitive collegiate arena, it will not cut it. The sooner the athlete can accept this change, the sooner they can start to build gains in endurance, strength, and performance. Psychological support from friends and family is of grave importance as well because of the isolation that some of these athletes might feel. The smoother the transition process is, the faster the athlete can become an asset to the team and excel in their sport.