4 Key Differences Between High School and College Sports



The transition from high school to college can be a major adjustment. For most students, this is the first time they move away from home and live on their own. It’s up to you to show up for class, study for finals, eat healthy and do laundry. For softball players, the jump can be even more significant. Here are four major differences between high school and college softball.

Being a college softball player is like having two full-time jobs

In-season D1 softball players spend nearly 80 hours per week on athletics and academics. This includes early-morning lifting sessions, classes, afternoon practice, weekend and evening study halls and of course, games. While you should definitely branch out and befriend other students, only your teammates and other student-athletes will truly understand what it’s like to balance college sports with the duties of a full-time student. To keep your head above water, you need to be incredibly passionate about softball and develop strong time-management skills. Keep in mind that athletes who compete for D2, D3 or NAIA schools tend to have less demanding schedules and a little more free time.

Your college softball team is your family

Playing softball in high school is a great way to make new friends. However, college softball takes team bonding to a whole new level. You will likely spend just about every waking—and sleeping—moment with your teammates. College softball players room together, eat together, take classes together, sit in study halls together and work out together. In many cases, players and coaches go on spring break trips to play tournaments in Florida or California. In addition, softball players often have to stick around for post-season games after the rest of the student body heads home for the summer. Your college teammates are much more than your friends—they are your family and your support system.

College practices can be more intense than high school games

The leap from high school to college can be massive. Instead of competing against 17 and 18-year-olds, you will be squaring off against muscular 21 and 22-year-olds. Athletes are bigger, faster, stronger and more skilled. Some softball players respond to the college atmosphere with nerves, while others rise to the challenge. It’s all about how you respond.

In high school, mistakes are part of the game and practices can lack intensity. In college softball, mistakes and lack of concentration during practice can lead to extra laps and a spot on the bench. Everyone on the softball team is there because they’ve invested a ton of time and energy into the sport. No one is going to hand you a starting spot as an incoming freshman—you’ll have to fight for it.

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Traveling to away games can take hours

Since most teams in a high school conference are within a few miles of each other, it takes less than an hour to travel to most regular season games. You might have to bus or carpool across the state for early-season competitions and state softball tournaments, but most games are a short bus ride away. In college, teams in your conference will often be beyond state line and travel times can regularly be as long as 6-8 hours. This often means missed classes and weekends away from campus. While you can use this time to get homework done and study for tests, long hours sitting on a bus can be draining.

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