Friday, April 3, 2009

Relax Underclassmen, Your Time Will Most Certainly Come

RT Staff Note: We get a lot of e-mails from players asking us for advice. Many of them are from underclassmen that aren't getting playing time on varsity. We have paraphrased them into one e-mail like the one below in bold. Our response is in regular type below that.

I am high school sophomore that is playing on his varsity team. Our team has played 20 games total and I have only received a few at bats and pitched 11 innings. I have delivered some good hits and have not allowed a run as a pitcher.

I want to play JV so I can get some innings, but the coach wants me on varsity...yet I don't play despite starters that are hitting in the mid .200's.

Our coach plays his seniors and juniors first, yet I know that I am better than they are. I am a talented player who starts on my travel team and we are traveling to all of the top showcases this summer. What should I do?

Your coach and many coaches like yours are teaching you a valuable lesson called paying your dues. He likes you...he really does, or he would not have brought you up. He just doesn't want to rush it too early. We have seen players brought into the fray way too early, struggle, lose confidence and move several steps backwards.

What you don't realize is how important you are to the rest of the team. Just you being there challenging the older players and showing them that there is a sophomore trying to take a upperclassman's position is a valuable contribution to the team. You should be causing the upperclassmen to work harder out of pride alone.

In addition, the coach is teaching you the values of hard work and patience. He is basically asking you to observe this year and learn from the leadership of the team captains and seniors on the team. Because he brought you up, he is hoping you are listening, learning, and taking that knowledge into your summer season and next year. He is not going to bring a sophomore up if he doesn't have big plans for you next year. Have patience. Many of the best players in major league history never even played on varsity until their junior year. You are obviously a special kid, but you must be handled with special care too. Play hard, never give up and have a great summer. By the time you junior year comes around, all of this will be so familiar to you. You will be way ahead of other juniors and will be looked at as their leader. Take advantage of that and show them what it takes to play varsity.

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