The jaw dropping hours of practice as a Division I athlete and what you should expect

In previous articles, I have talked about how important it is to love the sport that you want to play at the college level. No matter how much you think you need a scholarship (There are student loans), if you don’t love the sport, getting through four or five years of it will not be easy. It would be similar to an extent to waking up to a job everyday that you hate.

In this article, I will be looking at the time allotted by the NCAA for Division I athletes. This includes the limit of practice time in and out season. If you are a basketball player, trust me in saying that your off-season workouts will not be you coming into the gym along and shooting some jumpers. It will be an intense workout that is directed by an assistant coach.

This first rule applies for all NCAA Division I sports. “A student-athlete’s participation in countable athletically related activities shall be limited to a maximum of four hours per day and 20 hours per week.” (There is an exception regarding golf but unless there is interest, I don’t plan on going into it.) For those curious, countable athletically related activities include any required activity by the direction of one or more of the members of the coaching staff.

So just for practice, you will be spending twenty hours each week. If you season lasts four months (Which it very well could in Division I athletics), you could be spending up to 320 hours in practice time. That does not include rehab if you have a nagging injury, school, or study tables that you may have to go to. While some may not realize it, that is a lot of time. It is half of a 40 hour a week job and that does not even count the academic portion of your college career.

For sports other than football, there is a maximum eight hours per week with no more than two hours per week spent on skill-related workouts. These can only last during the school year and will not happen legally during the summer (Even though I am willing to say that it does happen).

So the coaching staff of whatever sport you will be playing will get a chance to bring you in eight hours a week, or thirty two hours a month. With a four month season, a three month summer, you could be practicing in the off-season for up to 160 hours while being directed by a coach. And this does not include things like open gym for basketball or 7-on-7 football (There cannot legally be any coaches in attendance).

The rules for Division I football players do depend on if you are playing Division I-A or I-AA (Also known as Championship Series or Bowl Series). Following the end of the regular season and January 1st, players are limited to required lifting, watching game film, and conditioning. After January 1st, there is still a limit of eight hours per week and that is limited to only two hours per week of watching film.

While I am not questioning those numbers, I spoke with a few current Division I football players that I knew and they talked to me about how grueling it is. They have morning conditioning and two hours a lifting a few days per week. With that in mind, they may be pushing the legal limit of eight hours per week.

Again, this is just a quick look at NCAA rules. It just shows that if you think you can slack through a sport you don’t love, I advise you now not to waste your time.

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