How to Prepare for Collegiate Sports Through the Eyes of a Strength Coach

A college strength coach offers valuable advice for incoming freshmen planning to play sports at the collegiate level.

If you're heading to collegiate sports in the fall, summer is the time to prepare. Longer and more intense practices, and strength and conditioning sessions are on the horizon, and you don't want to come in behind and be forced to play catch-up.

In my years as a college strength coach, I have seen freshmen who come in trained and ready to fight for playing time, as well as the ones who are overweight and out of shape. Personally, I don't expect my incoming freshmen to possess good lifting technique or be very strong, but I do expect a few things from them when they enter my weight room.

Things I Expect From You:


Injuries happen, so I obviously understand when an athlete is still rehabbing. But if you enter your college career with a nagging injury because you didn't go to physical therapy or contact your school's athletic trainer or strength coach to see what you could do to get back to 100 percent, then you are hurting yourself and your team. Take care of your body and be ready to train.


Most teams will give you some sort of conditioning test as soon as you step on campus, and you need to be ready to dominate it. You don't need any equipment to prepare; all you need is the earth. There is no excuse for being poorly conditioned. Over the summer, contact your your future strength coach and ask what conditioning test(s) they run and what they recommend to prepare for it.

Having Completed the Incoming Freshman Packet

If you are going to a school that has a strength coach, you will probably receive a packet of workouts to prepare you for your arrival on campus. You need to do them. My only exception to this is if an athlete contacts me and tells me he or she is training with a high school strength coach or private sector coach. But even then, I want him or her to give the packet to their coach so they can take parts of my workouts if needed. These intro workouts are crucial for your progression and preparation, because if you come in without having done some sort of strength training, you will be behind your teammates and too sore to do much.

An Open Mind and a Desire for Excellence

I see every freshman as a blank slate and teach them as if they've never touched a weight before. But even if they have trained before, I expect my athletes to be ready and excited to learn the way we do things in our program. One of my volleyball players was a shining example. Every time I told her something was technically wrong with how she performed an exercise, she would redo the set without being asked. Be an athlete who strives for excellence in everything you do, and you will earn respect quickly and see great success.

The Thing I Love to See But Don't Count on: Mobility

Some people naturally have no restrictions and some are so tight they can't bend to save their lives. If you are one of the tight individuals, you need to know that it takes a lot of time and consistency to gain the proper mobility—so start now. This is a big one for me, because if someone has a lot of restrictions, he or she will need modifications on some exercises to avoid injury—until they are capable of hitting those positions. I'm not asking you to be able to do a split, but a parallel Squat with a neutral spine would be nice.

Below is a video of a few things to do to keep your mobility up to par.

RELATED: Prepare Early for the College Recruiting Process

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