It is no secret that international student-athletes need an adaptation period after landing in the United States to begin their college career. It takes time to adjust to the language, to combining a demanding training regime with university-level courses or to drastically modifying lunch and dinner times.
Not only that, but the rules of your sport may also differ from the ones you have been following during your childhood or the ones existing in professional sports. In this piece we’re going to share some of those variations in five sports: basketball, baseball, soccer, football and tennis.
There are several significant changes between the NCAA and the NBA (and FIBA) rulebook. Instead of four quarters, college hoops games are comprised of two 20-minute halves. Moreover, the shot clock starts its countdown from 30 seconds instead of from 24. Until the 2014/15 season, it used to be 35s for men, which was quite dull to be honest. Lastly, the three-point line is slightly closer to the basket.
The preeminent difference between NCAA and Major League Baseball is the material a bat is made of. Only wooden bats are allowed in the big leagues, while all college bats are made of an alloy of aluminium ever since the governing body prohibited the composite bats in 2009.
Besides, pitchers are required to bat in the National League. While there are exceptions such as Madison Bumgarner or Jake Arrieta, most of them are woeful at hitting. Hence, the American League, the NCAA or the MiLB have adopted the figure of the designated hitter. What do you think, should pitchers be obliged to bat or they should just stick to throwing?
There exists a noticeable controversy due to the fact college soccer coaches are allowed to use unlimited substitutions throughout the length of a match. On the one hand, managers can introduce fresh players whenever they want. On the other, this rule entices many programs to rely on the long ball and physicality over pure skill and a more modern approach.
Officials can stop the clock whenever they deem it appropriate, especially in the last few minutes. There isn’t stoppage time. The encounters end with a basketball-like countdown and a buzzer goes off at the end of each half. In the event of a draw, the teams play an extra time consisting of two ten-minute halves under the golden goal format.
As far as I am concerned, the main difference between NCAA football and the NFL is the distinct appreciation of what a catch is. In college, players need to retain a grasp on the football while they have one foot inbounds. Nevertheless, in the NFL, receivers need to have two feet down within the field limits. Next, they must retain a firm, controlled grasp of the football. Lastly, they have to make an “athletic move”, such as spinning around or tucking the ball to their chest.
Furthermore, in college the play clock stop whenever there is a new set of downs, which does not happen in the pros.
First of all, doubles are played ahead of singles. Such order fosters the doubles discipline, which is far from happening in Spain, where in team competitions doubles are skipped altogether if the clash is decided. However, players don’t need to win two out of three sets. It used to be a pro set to eight games, but from the 2013/14 season it has been cut to six.
College tennis has also implemented the no-ad scoring in order to shorten the duration of dual matches, adding an extra bit of thrill and hopefully generating more expectation among actual and potential spectators.
Notwithstanding, if there is a famous rule in college tennis is the no-let rule the NCAA DI men’s use on service. Officially, it was adopted in the mid-1990s to speed up the matches. Yet, legend says it was enforced to prevent players from cheating. Apparently, it was common practice among players to call ‘Let’ whenever they were aced at crunch time.
Even though coaches emphasize this peculiarity, it is all but inevitable for a freshman not to mess up. Probably better at practice than during a match, right?
Dear VT Sports’ athletes, now you know that you should check out the specific rulebook after signing your Athletic Scholarship in the US.
Text: Pablo Mosquera Perez