How Prepared are College Freshmen Athletes for the Rigors of College Strength and Conditioning? A Survey of College Strength and Conditioning Coaches

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Training programs for high school athletes have changed over the last 20 years. High school physical education classes have transformed into sport-specific conditioning classes with intensities matching college or professional athlete programming. In addition, involvement in private, sport-specific, training increased; but despite these advanced training methods, are high school athletes prepared for collegiate sport competition? An anonymous survey was sent to 195 Division I strength and conditioning coaches (SCC) to discern incoming college freshman athletes’ physical and psychological preparedness for the rigors of collegiate training and sport competition. Fifty-seven (29%) responses were received. Strength and conditioning coaches stated that incoming college freshman athletes lack lower extremity strength, overall flexibility, and core strength as well as proper Olympic lifting technique. Strength and conditioning coaches also stated that athletes lacked the mental toughness to endure collegiate sport training in addition to claiming incoming athletes lacked knowledge of correct nutrition and recovery principles. These results suggest a lack of collegiate training/sport preparedness of high school athletes. High school strength and conditioning specialist’s goal is to produce better athletes and doing so requires the strength and conditioning coach/trainer to have knowledge of how to train high school athletes. One way to assure adequate knowledge of strength and conditioning training principles is for high school coaches/trainers to be certified in the field. Strength and conditioning certifications among high school strength and conditioning coaches/trainers would encourage developmentally appropriate training and would provide universities with athletes who are prepared for the rigors of collegiate sport training/competition.