I’ve gotten a lot of questions recently from ballplayers preparing for their freshman year of college asking me what they should expect. In general, the first few weeks of college as a baseball player is like drinking out of a fire hose. Getting used to your classes, the dreaded H word (homework), getting adjusted to dorm life, finding the best dining halls to eat at, meeting new people, getting to know your teammates and coaches, practicing everyday and having your life revolve around baseball, and, of course, trying to earn those diplomas… I could go on. In order to take a bit of the edge off, I talked with current and former college players and coaches and put together this article: Preparing for College baseball as a Freshman: 10 Things You Need To Do. I hope this helps and as always, my lists never cover everything. If you have any suggestions of things I left off, please leave a comment.
1. Show up in Shape.
You would think that this would be a no brainer, but you’d be surprised how many freshman ballplayers show up thinking they’re in shape when in reality they aren’t anywhere near where they should be. Most college baseball programs go through some sort of conditioning “Hell Week” before fall ball starts as a way to separate the men from the boys… Be a man!
Keep the following in mind from the mouth of head coach at DII Powerhouse UC San Diego, Dan O’Brien. “The incoming freshman needs to understand that HS Baseball is relatively easy, and that a lack of preparation prior to getting to the next level will hit you like a ton of bricks when you arrive. Most of our freshmen think they’ve been working hard when in reality they don’t understand how hard you need to work to get ready.
2. Do Your College’s Weight Program Over the Summer
Almost all college baseball programs will give their recruits baseball specific weight programs from their head strength coach. This is a great way not just to get into shape, but also familiarize yourself with the exercises you will be doing with the team in the weight room when you arrive on campus. If you haven’t been doing the weight training, it will be easy for others to see… If your coach doesn’t give you a summer weight program, be sure to ask him for one or contact one of the current players and ask what their normal summer lifting workout schedule entails.
Be motivated by the classic Andy Simunic (AA prospect for the Astros) quote “Size isn’t everything but you still need to be able to fill out your pants.”
3. Embrace Doing Things that Freshman Have to do.
No matter where you play, freshman will no doubt be the ones, bring the balls to the field, raking the baselines, throwing away dugout trash, doubling up on the bus, and all the other tedious stuff that goes along with it. Don’t wine and complain, that’s just how it is. Instead go out of the way to do these things without having the upperclassmen or coaches ask you.
4. Prioritize Baseball over Social Life
I can’t stress this enough- don’t go crazy your first weeks at college!(I would suggest not going crazy ever, but ESPECIALLY not in the first few weeks) The social scene will be there all four years; If you make bad decisions early on, there’s a good chance you won’t be. My freshman year I had three teammates (all freshman) get arrested before the first week was over! They were punished, stayed on the team through most of the fall, but all were eventually kicked off the team or failed out of school by the end of the year. They chose partying over baseball and class. It happens to freshman ballplayers every year… Don’t be one of those guys!!
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5. Make a Good First Impression with Your New Teammates and Coaches
This is crucial. Too many incoming freshmen show up on campus and look like deer in the headlights during fall conditioning and practice. There is a very easy way to earn respect from your new teammates and coaches- Hustle and work hard!
Kentucky Baseball Coach Brian Green on how to make a good first impression:
“Get Dirty and be infectious with energy. Seeing players constantly talking on the field, or invested pitch to pitch on defense speaks volumes about their character.”