The NCAA March Madness tournament is in full swing, and I’m sure that everyone is watching and keeping track of their brackets. There are a few things to keep in mind while you watch the games that will help you pursue your goal of playing college baseball.
- These are college athletes. Don’t think of them as basketball players as opposed to baseball players. They are college athletes, just like you want to be. Watch how intense they are. Watch how hard they work. Recognize that they make mistakes. After a while you will start to see what separates the great teams and great players from the pack. It’s not skill. There’s a reason that a #1 seed has already lost, and a #15 seed is heading to the Sweet Sixteen. It’s heart and determination. Learn from that.
- Crunch Time. Watch for the players that step up their game in crunch time situations. Their last second shot is your at-bat in the 9th inning with two outs and the winning run on third. How do they get their emotions under control enough to make the shot that will keep their season alive? Pressure is universal. Every sport has a crunch time situation. The faster you learn how to deal with it, the better a ballplayer you’ll be.
- Teamwork. The teams that win play as a team. Sure, they’ll have one player that puts the team on his back sometimes, but teamwork wins championships. Obviously, the way that baseball and basketball teams interact are very different. But what you can learn from watching them is the way that they support each other. As you move on and the game gets harder, your teammates will need to lean on each other in order to succeed. Watch these games and see how much of a difference teamwork makes.
- Defense. Ever hear the saying “Defense wins championships?” It’s true. You will not be put on the field in college if you can’t play defense. There’s a reason that these basketball games finish with scores like 56-52. Both teams work hard on defense. Appreciate how important that is. Your team’s defense will keep you in games and win you games.
Take advantage of this tournament. Don’t just watch the games, learn from them. These athletes are guys who were in a similar position to you just a few years ago. Now they are making their dreams come true. Watch the games closely and recognize the traits that you can use in baseball. Competitiveness, heart, drive, toughness. Learn and work to get better.