This article was prompted with the question, "What would you tell your collegiate freshman self about track and training if you could?" I've touched on this subject before, in an episode of Dane's Platform--if you haven't heard it, it's one of our most popular episodes. Check it out here!
You should probably keep stretching during your freshman and sophomore years
Throughout high school, I stretched religiously. I knew it was important for my performance, so I did it all the time. As soon as I got to college, however, the amount that I stretched drastically decreased. For a lot of (admittedly, bad) reasons (example: my sophomore year, I shared a room that was supposed to be a single. We didn’t have a ton of open floor space), I just wasn’t stretching as consistently as I used to. I don’t know if it’s accurate to correlate these two, but I know that as my stretching decreased in my first two years in college, the number of small injuries I experienced drastically increased. I’d never had so many small, nagging issues! I’m sure there are a lot of reasons for those problems, but not stretching enough certainly didn’t help.
2. Just because you’re not where you want to be now, doesn’t mean you won’t be in the future
I’ve always been a very competitive person who always feels he should be good all the time. But that’s just not how sports work. After what felt like a successful high school career, a lot of college felt like I was just kind of stalled out, stressing about not being good enough, and letting that control my mentality toward throwing. It would have been seriously helpful to be able to constantly remind myself that, especially in technical sports like throwing, growth takes time. I was in such a hurry to progress that I didn’t give myself the room to understand that it might not go exactly as I had planned, but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t progress. I just needed to be mature enough to see that my road to success might be slightly different than the people around me.
3. Stretch your hips
This might sound redundant, considering the first point, but one of the biggest issues I tackled this past year was addressing a severe lack of mobility in my lower body, primarily my hips. It had held me back for a very long time, but I had always told myself that I could work around it. Having finally taken care of it, I wish I had taken action on it years ago. In college, it was rare that I could string together several good squat workouts in a row, which I definitely think hampered my strength development. My knees always felt terrible, and would be sore for days after a lower body lift. Now, squatting almost entirely without chronic joint pain has been a revelation. This doesn’t just have to be about your hips, either. This point is more to say that if something is wrong, seek out a professional who can help you. It’ll be worth the effort and only make you better in the long run.
4. You don’t know everything
I was always a fairly smart kid, and as such, became just another sufferer of the Dunning-Kruger effect. For those who are unfamiliar with this, see the chart below:
Like most 18 year-old athletes, I was fully convinced that I knew what was best for myself in all cases, despite what almost anyone had to say. I missed out on a lot of development because of this misplaced confidence. It’s always important to believe in yourself and your abilities, but it’s also equally as important to identify and acknowledge your weaknesses, and be willing to accept that someone else might know better than you. Healthy skepticism is always important, but don’t shut out everyone just because you think you know better than them. Hear what people have to say, learn how to laugh away the ridiculous stuff and take the small gems.