I marvel at what is taking place today with amateur baseball players primarily at the high schoollevel. Observing them as I do, it is very easy to detect and note if they are having a good time playing the game. IMHO, they are NOT having fun like players did in years past. More specifically, players in the 20th century played the game with more zest, more zeal and more passion. Many of today’s guys are more tentative and fearful of making mistakes and failing in one of several potential ways.
Young Players Under Pressure
The pressure and the stress which players, their parents and I would guess the “system” itself are putting on today’s players contribute to this feeling. For many of today’s players, the stress emanates from the notion of obtaining a college grant-in-aid (scholarship)…The mere fact that today’s players are putting undue pressure on themselves to obtain this aid is actually preventing a lot of really good players from truly advancing their game directly, which in turn is hurting their respective team indirectly.
For years, we have contended that for most starting senior players who compete in a respectable baseball program (school team and/or summer team), there is a place for him at the next level. There is, however, a process one must go through and be educated about. We have stressed that the key ingredient is associated with the concept of compatibility….i.e., players must find the right typeof baseball situation to advance to that correlates with the player’s current and projected level of play. While this often is a challenging process to arrive at, it is achievable. Those needing help with the process need to contact their respective coach or someone knowledgeable about the workings of this process. Not everyone is a D1 or D2 player.
Get Back To Having Fun
So to get back to our original point: having fun in America’s pastime is a serious challenge. You can tell if a player is having fun because for him (a player having fun) everything is effortless!!! No pressure, no stress, no nothing. Just going about (baseball) business like the guys did 50 years ago in the park (when there we NO Showcases, NO “select” college camps and NO outside influences to detract from having fun playing baseball). You know, choosing up teams, playing 5 vs. 5, calling which field is “dead”, etc,
This relatively new concept of early signing (a time in November of one’s senior year) and all the lead-up that occurs with what is known as an “early commitment” is playing havoc on many talented h.s. athletes. So much so, that it has literally developed into an emotional crisis. Granted, the guy who is strong enough emotionally will survive and advance his game to a higher level; but, this type of person is a special kind of guy.
How To Chill Out
So, our best advice to everyone including: playersand their parents is to “chill” for a second and do the following:
- Reflect back to the good ole’ days when you played the game for
- Try your best to get all the crap about commitments, early signing,
etc. out of your mind – if you are good enough to play at a higher
level, you will be found
- Keep working on the basic fundamentals on a daily basis
- Seek knowledgeable instruction from someone you trust
- Believe in yourself and don’t get emotional
- Remember, there is no entitlement – you must concentrate on
improving your game and focusing on the task at hand
If players put more effort into having fun and not worrying about themselves and a college scholarship more good would result. Players develop at different rates and at different times. Don’t let the outside forces and factors get into your head.
Putting It Out There
Why all the interest in having fun? Because for the first time this summer I have noticed first hand what is going on with many talented guys AND their parents and all the issues inherent and mentioned above. It’s a shame and really a travesty and it needs to be addressed. Whether this is the medium is TBD, but at least it’s now out in “the open!”
To those parents of younger players – now is the time to start thinking and preparing yourself for the challenge that lies ahead. It’s a serious situation and might someday affect you. To everyone: good luck with the situation, the challenge and the system. Cool minds will prevail and succeed. WATCH…………