Too often today we look for the easy way out- not wanting to put the necessary work into achieving a goal or task, but instead having it given to us because we feel we deserve it. Today we hear about change all of the time, but until you actually act on what you want to change it will not happen. In life or in sports you need to identify what you want, create a plan, and execute it.
For most baseball players, the fall is their off season the time to get bigger, faster, stronger, and to work on your strengths and weaknesses. As a pitcher, maybe it’s adding a new pitch to your repertoire, or as a hitter working on your approach and swing. Too often this fall I have heard, “I want to play Division I Baseball,” but without a plan or sense of action. To that I ask, “what are you doing to achieve that?” In most cases that question is answered with a long pause of silence, then with an answer to the tune of “I don’t know”, “I am taking the fall off,” or “I am playing on my high school fall team”. Simply saying you want to play Division I College Baseball doesn’t mean that it will happen -a ton of hard work and dedication go into making it to the next level.
Becoming a Division I Collegiate Baseball player is very competitive, with only 11.7 scholarships to spread around to 27 players, and with a maximum of 35 players on the roster. As of 2011 there were 471,025 high school aged baseball players in the United States, while in turn there are 297 DI baseball programs- meaning that there are only a total of 10,395 roster spots. In order to make your dream a reality you have to separate yourself from the norm and “accept the challenge,” a term I have heard so much in my baseball career that I sometimes have dreams about it and think I have to be at conditioning in the morning.
Dissecting the answers:
1. “I don’t know” – Every day we learn something new- it’s ok to not have the answer, it just means that you need to seek out the knowledge. Don’t let not knowing be your excuse. There are plenty of people who have been there before and would love to help you build a plan; being satisfied with this answer is a step in the wrong direction. Find quality information on strength and conditioning (ex. http://www.ericcressey.com/), read about great long toss programs, or look for drill work you can do to improve your game where you think it is lacking.
2. “I am playing on my high school fall team” – To become the best player you can be you need to challenge yourself by playing against the best competition you can. I would call this “big fish, small pond” syndrome, and we have touched on it in many of our articles. Playing for your high school is great for school and town pride however in terms of competition, talent, and exposure- not so great. College coaches are attending showcase tournaments, and if you don’t believe me stroll over to one of Perfect Game’s WWBA tournaments in Ft Myers and Jupiter and you will see hundreds of college and pro scouts watching games. You will also get a chance to play the top competition from around the country, which can only make you better. Now I also understand travel ball is a huge financial commitment and there are times where you just can’t do it, but there are teams out there who do not charge a lot and most coaches are very flexible and work with people who are in certain situations, and are still a better option to standard high school baseball.
3. “I am taking the fall off” – There are times when a break is much needed in order to let your body recover and avoid burning yourself out. But taking an entire fall off is not a break it is more of a digression. Playing another sport is not taking time off; you are staying active, in shape, and sharpening your competitive edge. If your aspirations are to play Division I Baseball then you better be ready to work hard in the fall, as most schools have morning strength and conditioning followed by afternoon individual position work and of course, classes. That is not to mention your allotted 30 days of fall practice where you are trying to earn your spot for the spring. Great athletes don’t stop working on their craft, they instead are constantly trying to find an edge and ways to get better. If this was your answer this fall and you are healthy and not playing another sport, you need to reevaluate and ask yourself am I helping or hurting myself in the long run.
Don’t be afraid to accept the challenge, you might just surprise yourself if you do.