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Posted at 01:30 PM ET, 01/03/2012

Offseason is right time to get with the program


Congratulations to the prospective graduating student athletes of 2012. Graduation is rapidly approaching and so is the beginning of your college career. There are some pivotal things that you should consider between the time your high school and or club seasons end and July, when many of you will begin to report to your respective campuses.

My biggest piece of advice to you: Do not stop. Yes, you have signed your letters, have all of your coach’s numbers, and proudly rock your future collegiate sweatshirt but the journey has just begun. Unless of course your plan is to fade into the background and just be along for the ride. Your talent and hard work has gotten you impressively far and saved your family some major money, but now you are just one of many.

All of your teammates were top players in their hometown, so now your not so special. But you can still be special. Here’s how:

You just have to outwork everyone else.

Granted, there is a learning curve as a freshman. All of your teammates and coaches understand that, but you can get a jump on the curve. Those weaknesses in your game? Get on them now. Your strengths are why you were recruited, but college athletics expose weaknesses. Every scouting report will have your strengths and weakness. Coaches work hard preparing for opponents and strategizing. They prey on weakness.

Call your coaches and be proactive. Ask them to send you a copy of the team’s summer workout packets so that you can start to get prepared. If they’ve already given them to you, take a serious look at them. Your window of opportunity to improve without someone screaming down your neck is now. The fact is most players don’t improve during the course of their seasons; it’s the offseason where the magic happens. This is your first offseason, so make it count.

Start getting to know your classmates. When I graduated from Georgetown, I was the only senior. I would have loved to have a classmate, someone who shared my experience. Barring transfers, you will start and share your athletic journey with your classmates. Chemistry plays a role on every team and as freshmen you guys will have similar experiences, so start supporting each other.

Get mentally prepared. If someone is still dragging you around to get workouts in, you’re in trouble. No one is going to beg you in college, you just won’t play. Beyond that, start watching film of your future program, not as a fan but as a student. Understand what you are about to get into. What type of plays will I be running and where do I fit? Where can I take my place defensively or offensively? I’m sure your future coach gave you a run-down in the recruiting process, but get a concrete understanding for yourself. Studying the game is the only way to improve your sports IQ.

At the end of the day, you’re a freshman and you won’t always get it right. Seniors don’t always get it right. That’s the beauty of your position — you have every opportunity to exceed expectations. Be proactive and be a sponge; before you know it you will be a senior, so make the most of each year and every opportunity

About Transition Game

Monica McNutt was an All-Met basketball player at Holy Cross Academy who went on to star for the Georgetown women’s team. She will be offering advice to high school athletes who are looking to make the leap to college sports

Got a question for Monica, or an idea she can use for a future post? Leave it here in the comments, or email her at hss@washpost.com. Follow her on Twitter at @__MCM__.

 

Previously:

Managing to stay close to the game (Dec. 20, 2011)

Leadership, Tebow-style (Dec. 13, 2011)

The importance of attitude (Dec. 6, 2011)

Fine-tuning your “mistake response” (Nov. 22, 2011)

Looking beyond the stat sheet (Nov. 15, 2011)

Battling the “dumb jock” stereotype (Nov. 8, 2011)

Taking advantage of your athletic resume (Nov. 1, 2011)

College recruiting: Finding a program that fits you (Oct. 25, 2011)

Navigating the recruiting process: “Get a clue, control your career” (Oct. 18, 2011)

Secrets to success: Food and rest (Oct. 11, 2011)

Introducing “Transition Game” (Oct. 4, 2011)

By Monica McNutt  |  01:30 PM ET, 01/03/2012

 
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