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How coaches and parents can help the HS to college transition, according to an Olympian


For college freshman student-athletes, adjusting to life away from home can present a set of unique challenges. College coaches know this all too well, as year after year they're tasked with helping a handful of freshman through the growing pains of both training camp, and homesickness.

Earlier today, the website Swim Swam released an article with thoughts from 4-time Olympian Jill Sterkel on how parents, and coaches can better prepare their kids for the transition from high school to college, and it's a very interesting read. Sterkel coached the Texas swim team for 14 years and is a parent herself.

While the parellels between swimming and football may be few and far between, as coaches (and parents) we all face similar issues, and with the 2015 season very young, and the 2016 season right around the corner, Sterkel's thoughts will carry significant meaning for many of us as assistant coaches, coordinators, and head coaches.

“I have a theory. It’s not scientific. It’s my own theory I’ve cooked up in my head, for what it’s worth,” Sterkel started off telling Swim Swam.

“I think parents who have raised their children and have given them the leeway to make mistakes, and have corrected them along the way, have kids that fare far better in college than the kids who have been forced to do this, do that, ‘because I said so.’"

"You’ve got to teach independence, with boundaries. When they can experience a problem and work through it to the other side, there is a sense of accomplishment. There’s a sense of “Wow!” They are adding to their toolbox. It’s easier for us to jump in and fix it. We can fix a problem in two seconds and we’re done, but that doesn’t teach them a whole lot." Sterkel explained.

Finding a way to do that as a coach can be a challenge. Many coaches have an open door policy with their guys, while other programs match them up with an upperclassmen or big brother of sorts to be their mentor and guide. There's many ways to approach it, but the best way to keep your retention rate high is to spend time building quality relationships with your young guys.

For the coaches out there who are also parents, this advice is invaluable, because before you know it, your little ones will be making the all-important transition from high school to college, and when they do, you may want to take another look at Sterkel's advice.