From High School to College: Taking it to the Next Level

By Lisa Beltramello, Assistant Coach, University of Tampa @TampaWLax

I know there are many people out there that have thought about making the leap from high school to college level coaching. As someone who has done this, I am hoping to share some helpful insights about taking your coaching to the next level.

Photo courtesy of the author.
  • It’s all about the details – Details are incredibly important at the college level. It’s the little things that could end up being the difference in how your season goes. It’s more than just keeping more diligent statistics too (even though that is also extremely important). It’s watching how players break down steps, how they turn, their body control and athleticism, how they hold their sticks, etc. It’s watching film, breaking it down, and being able to explain each movement both as an individual and as a unit. It’s the timing of cuts, the creating and implementing of plays, the strategic changes in defensive match up or sets. The smallest thing could help your team win or cause them to lose.
  • Finding a balance – At the college game, wins and losses matter. It’s not that they don’t matter in high school. Everyone likes to win and everyone I know hates losing. The biggest thing in college is how much you win and lose can determine how long you have a job. Winning makes everything better. Your players want to win. They want to make you proud and they want to do everything that they can to help their team achieve their goals. Sometimes this can create stress and tension. It’s important to know how to walk the line between being too serious and being too silly. The players must learn that at the end of the day, it is their job to perform at their highest level each time they take the field (and win games) but also have fun doing that. It is the job of the coach to exemplify how this is done.
  • Accountability and Leadership – In high school players have parents, teachers, and coaches that hold them accountable. There is usually someone there making sure they do what is necessary. There is little expectation outside of practice to continue to work on your skills for one particular sport since so many young people are involved with multiple sports and teams. In college, a majority of athletes are there to focus on one sport. There are rules and limits to how many practices we can have within our sport, especially during the offseason. There are some colleges and conferences that don’t even allow contact with coaches in their offseason. It is incredibly important that the team can hold themselves and each other accountable for what they do when the coaches aren’t looking. Championships aren’t won doing the bare minimum. They are won outside of allotted practice time and countable hours with a coach. The players have to do more and want more of themselves and each other. It is your job as the coach to give them the tools they need and build their confidence. When they become confident leaders, they will not be afraid to approach their teammates to work outside of practice. They will not hesitate to speak up when someone isn’t doing what they’re supposed to. This leadership and ability to hold people accountable is vital for getting more W’s. Even more importantly, creating confident leaders will help them grow into more functioning and independent people throughout the rest of their life.

College coaching is a full-time job. One that takes an immense amount of time. It is not a 9:00-5:00 gig where you can go home, shut off your phone and not answer emails when the horn blows at the end of the day. The game is constantly changing and it is up to us to make sure we give our teams everything they need to be successful on and off the field. It also means giving them the tools they need to become confident leaders in all aspects of their lives.

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