By: Geoffrey T. Spaulding
The disclaimer preface: Every state is different. Every school is different. Every team is different. And, sometimes, things change year to year.
That said, there are some fundamental absolutes that usually pertain when it comes to playing High School baseball. According to some who have been there, done that, here are twenty of them:
- It can be a rewarding experience. You are part of a team, friendships are forged, and school spirit becomes more than just an expression. It’s a “fraternity” that keeps the student athlete on a positive track and teaches them about being accountable.
- Speed and athleticism will get you looks, and may even get you some playing time; but, unless you can hit, pitch, field, and have a high baseball IQ, you may only get spot-time.
- High School coaches see things when the players never even suspect them to be watching. And just because they might not say anything externally depending on the “offense” or good conduct, it doesn’t mean they didn’t take note of it internally for later use.
- Don’t expect to understand the coach’s decisions about playing time and/or strategy; and, don’t panic when you don’t understand.
- You might have an idea of what your best position is; but, you’ll play where the coach tells you to play, or you will sit the bench. Versatility is incredibly valuable. Some very good baseball players never get an At-Bat on Varsity because the only position they can play is occupied by an All-Conference teammate.
- There is a kid somewhere that desperately wants what you have, and is working his butt off to take it from you.
- Show up early. Be the first player to practice. Have a smile on your face. Let the coach know that he is not the only one excited about being on the field. Show up looking like a ball player. Shirt tucked in. Hat on straight. Cleats on and tied properly. Show up ready to go to work. And, looking like you are ready to go to work. Playing time is earned in practice.
- The best players put in a ton of time practicing on their own in addition to team practices. The mediocre players only practice when the team practices. A reason for not training is often just an excuse. Those with talent who work the hardest get the rewards.
- It is never too early to focus on getting bigger, stronger and faster. Making that your #1 training priority will give you a huge edge over 98% of your competition.
- Play as hard as you can with an attitude that puts team goals above personal goals – while making sure you put schoolwork above baseball.
- Play every inning, and every at-bat, like it might be your last – because sometimes the difference between being a full-time starter and a full-time bench player is getting suspended for one game because you got written up for falling asleep in class. Keep your grades up so you can play.
- If you don’t like having your mechanics tweaked, remember that they will generally leave you alone if you deliver the mail.
- Respect your parents. When they show up for the parents meeting, do not be distant from them. Don’t roll your eyes when they ask a question you think is stupid.
- No one cares about your travel team.
- High school coaches can’t recruit and most of the players will not be moving on.
- Varsity is a completely different team. Don’t assume you get to go to the same dinners and special activities as the varsity players.
- Like most other levels of baseball, and other sports, there are two ways to get playing time: Talent or Politics. Be the top person in all of the pre-season fundraisers. As a parent, be prepared to open your wallet. Fundraising comes in all sizes. Do your time in the concession stand and shut up about it.
- High School baseball is somewhat like being in the Army. You do what you are told and parents don’t get involved. Parents aren’t told much – only where to send the checks.
- As a parent, go to all the games you can, because you never know when it will be “the last game.” That said, when attending, find a nice comfortable chair and plant it down the first or third baseline, out of earshot. Never forget that high school coaches hate parental meddling, parental complaints, and parents asking about playing time.
- The school has no obligation to play you, AT ALL. The coach’s priorities are: “Program, Team, Player” – IN THAT ORDER.
And, lastly, it goes by really fast – again, according to those who would know.