Playing in college is a dream for a lot of young athletes. For some, it is an opportunity to continue to play the game they love. It is the chance to get a free education. For others, it is a little stroke of the ego that you are good enough to play in college. And for a small few, it is a stepping stone to maybe play professionally.

The reality is that playing in college only happens to a select few. You have to be a pretty good athlete to play even at the D3 level. If you make it that far, kudos to you, but I think you have to be aware of some numbers about college athletes.

The NCAA has numbers of the percentage of high school athletes that play college for particular sports. If you click here, you will see at their site that a sport like baseball has 482,629 high school athletes playing the game, but only 6.9% will play in college.

Football has over a million high school athletes, but around 6.5% will play in college. That percentage is combined D1, D2, and D3 athletes.

I’ve worked with a lot of college athletes, but I wanted to go through my database and get a number. I wanted to see how many played at the different levels, but I also wanted to see how many stuck it out all four years.

I went through my database and only looked at the athletes I had that started training with me before they went to college. So, athletes that already were in college or playing in the pros did not count.

I also didn’t count the various teams and schools I strength coached for. I only counted those athletes if they had worked with my business outside of the school training.

Here are the numbers I came up with:

  • I had a final tally of 772 athletes that I had worked with in a span of 12 years that fit the above parameters.
  • 89 of those athletes played sports in college. That is a percentage of 12% of the athletes we worked with played in college.
  • 33 of those athletes are currently playing their sport. Of those 33, 20 play D1, 1 plays D2, 11 play D3, and 1 plays for a community college.
  • Out of the remaining 56 athletes that played college, 21 quit their sport during college. That means 38% of those athletes decided playing a sport in college wasn’t for them.
  • 35 of those 56 athletes did play the sport they went to college for their entire college career.
  • Out of all the athletes, 54 did D1 sports, 2 played D2, 32 were at the D3 level, and 1 was at a community college.

One thing to notice is that I know just because my athletes played a D1 sport doesn’t necessarily mean they received a scholarship. There were some walk-ons. Also, these D1 schools were all over the place.  Small D1 and big D1 programs. So opportunities are there.

Why did 38% of the athletes decide to quit?

Injuries were one reason. Lost the desire. It wasn’t what they thought it would be. There were just better athletes playing and they couldn’t compete.

If you look at the percentages that the NCAA provide and the percentages I have, you’ll notice my percentage is a little bit higher for high schoolers moving on. I think the biggest reason for that is we work with athletes that want to get better (they sought us out). So naturally, they might have that inner drive to do what it takes to play at the college level. Mix that with talent and you get a determined athlete.

It still is a small number. If we are working with 50 athletes this winter then roughly 6 of those athletes will have a chance to play in college. Will you be one of them?

I thought this topic was an interesting post of choice that needed to be discussed. Not to discourage athletes, but to open their eyes a little bit about playing in college. Also, about knowing college sports is a different animal from high school. It can be fun, but the athletes are better and your role might change. Make sure you truly love the sport or it is paying for your education. Otherwise, it could be a rude awakening.

Photo courtesy of Chad Cooper on Flickr: