By Alex Kelly
If you love the game of baseball and are serious about playing in college, then this article is for you. College baseball is an awesome experience and can be the best years of your life – it certainly was for me.
I had the opportunity to play Division 1 football, junior college baseball, as well as Division 1 baseball. With plenty of experience in both sports at the D1 level I can share with you some valuable insight for young aspiring high school players.
The Biggest Issue
For many college coaches the thing that stands out the most with incoming freshman is that they are not prepared for the daily grind. The commitment is serious, and takes a ton of time and energy every day. For a lot of incoming freshman they are unprepared because they do not know what to expect. With that said, let’s take a look at what a typical day might look like for the college baseball player.
6 – 7:30 AM
You can count on doing an early morning strength and conditioning program several times a week with the team before going to class. This is a great opportunity for a team to bond and build team chemistry. It is also a great opportunity to see who is in shape, and who is not. Freshman can really stand out by being in great physical shape when they show up on campus in the fall.
8 am – 1 pm
This time window is when the majority of your classes are scheduled. A typical fall schedule for a freshman consists of 15 credit hours (5 different classes). Being a student-athlete, you are expected to take care of your studies. There is a lot of freedom in college compared to high school, but with that also comes a lot of responsibility. Establishing good study habits in high school will help make for an easier transition when you get to the next level.
Multiple days a week players will attend “early outs.” Basically this is an hour of practice time with your position groups and assistant coaches before the full team practice begins. Some programs make it mandatory, others make it optional. This is a big difference from high school. Early out sessions is where you get to spend quality time in small groups putting in extra work. If you do not take this seriously, watch yourself get passed up by someone who does. Early outs are a great opportunity to make gains and improve on your weaknesses.
2:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Full team practice can vary in length depending on the day. Expect to spend at least a few hours every day doing team drills like: pfp’s, bunt coverages, infield/outfield specific drills, 1st & 3rds, situations, fly ball communication, base running, pickoffs and run downs, etc. There were days when we spent so much time doing team defense we did not even pick up a bat for batting practice. You were expected to get your cuts in on your own time with teammates on those days. Depending on the season, practice always seems to end with some brutal form of conditioning. And do not complain about being sore or tired from 6 am weights, because the coaches could care less. They want to see who is tough enough to be a stud come game time.
7 pm – 9 pm
The day is not over yet. After a break for dinner, study hall is generally required for first year players. This is to ensure that freshman are getting their class work done and keeping their GPA up. Usually 8 hours of study hall a week are required the first semester. If your GPA is good enough at semesters end, you can get out of study hall (usually above a 3.0).
After 9 pm
Finally there is free time. This can be a daily routine for most incoming freshman in the fall, and can be quite the shock for those that do not know what they are getting into.
Here is a clip of Kansas Jayhawks’ head baseball coach Ritch Price telling us what a day is like for their program. Take a look! (Video credit – Next Level Ballplayer, David Franco)