Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Make The Most of Your Opportunity

"You don't lose when you get knocked down, you lose when you decide to not get up."

I can't remember where I saw this quote or who said it. I'm not even sure I have the right words. It's just one of those thoughts that I recall from time to time and it gets me through a tough situation at work. I'm one of those odd parents that often see quotes that I think would inspire my kids. I usually print them out and lay them inconspicuously by the computer where they do their homework. They never acknowledge that they see any of these quotes and I never ask them if they saw it. The quote will just sit there for a few days and get tossed on weekends when my wife does her clean sweep of the house. But, I'm pretty sure they see it and think how weird their father is and then quickly move on to explore the wonders of Facebook or I-Tunes. Nevertheless, maybe it's one of those subliminal messages that just pop up in their mind when they need it the most. They have had tremendous success with baseball and have a pretty terrific attitude, so maybe....

This quote pops up in my mind because we have been receiving an inordinate amount of e-mails from parents that think their kid is getting the shaft from not playing enough high school baseball. Most are from parents of underclassmen and that will be the focus of this post.

First, just because a player is not starting or getting as much playing time as you, as a parent would like, doesn't mean that he is not learning, developing or a valuable asset to the team. Being on a baseball team is more than just playing or starting. Everyone on that roster has a role. Many high school teams have mid week scrimmages, and situational practices in which everyone participates. We talked about this in a a previous post. Those scrimmages and practices are just as important as the games to many coaches. If a player is good, then his skills may motivate someone else that doesn't want to lose their position to that underclassman. Many of you parents with bench sitting sons need to sit down with them and ask them what is their motivation? Is your son setting goals and working harder in practice to achieve those goals? Does he have the desire and the drive to want to be the first on the field and the last to leave? Does he hustle the most? Is he the most attentive when the coaches speak?

If so, then his time will come. If not...then that may be the problem at hand. Because practice and scrimmages are where you learn and develop skills...it's not always in regular season games. The coach may have picked up on that. The only way to turn this situation around is giving 110% effort, learning, developing and setting goals to get out of that mental rut that is often caused by sitting on the bench. If he truly loves baseball, he needs to truly love the journey to get there as well. That means paying dues, working harder, hustling and doing everything he is asked to do and more in practice.

But even if that player never gets his chance or is just not as physically talented enough to crack an everyday line-up, attitude and enthusiasm is still important. A player must realize that this is still a team sport and that there are other team members that need their support...a dead dug-out often results in dud of a game. There really is no room for negative attitudes in the dug-out just because a player is sitting the bench.

There used to be a kid we knew who was a smallish infielder who also never played much...but he never gave up trying. He was the inspiration in the dug-out, leading the team in other ways like spirit and upbeat chatter on the bench. He usually only got in games that were blow-outs, but when he got up to bat, he received more vocal support from his team mates than anyone else. He never even thought about quitting or giving up. He was having fun just being on the team, with his friends and for the love of the game. At the end of the season, the coach gave him a special award for being the most inspirational player on the team. He never played much, but I guarantee that he learned and developed in many ways other than just baseball.

Players, if you are sitting the bench, try something new and turn it up a notch and see what happens. The coach hasn't cut you. You ARE on the roster and he must see something in you right? Even if things still don't change then at least you can hold your head high and be very proud that you gave it your all and played the best of your ability day in and day out. You may not have a career in baseball, but that work ethic that you learned between the lines will pay you HUGE dividends later in your adult life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This article applies not only to high schoolers, but also to college underclassmen. You know, the types who were studs in high school and are now having to pay their dues and wait their turn in college.

A player I know left his D1 team after freshman year out of frustration because he wasn't getting enough playing time. He went to a JUCO and then signed with a lesser D1 that did not play well enough to qualify for its conference tourneys. Meanwhile, his former D1 team rose to new heights, achieving a top 50 ranking. His former teammates, who used to sit with him in the dugout during games, lit it up on the field as sophomores and got to compete in an NCAA regional.

The player eventually regretted ever having left the program in the first place. If he had just loved "the journey" as much as he loved the game, he would not have suffered from regrets and "what if's."