For many of you, the season is finally getting started. Over the next few months, you’re going to find out a lot about your team and yourself. As you see all the pieces come together, focus on what your role is going to be for your team in the upcoming year. Are you a utility player who spends time on the bench, a consistent starter, or the star and four-hitter? No matter what your role is, you have to find a way to embrace it and strive to get better at the same time. Now, that isn’t as easy as it sounds and understanding your role is just the beginning.
If you’re stuck on the bench to start the season, it will be tricky to try to take someone’s starting spot while being the best role-player that you can be. But the best way to work your way off the bench is to do your current job very well. Right now, your coach is going to use you in situations where he thinks you can help the team the most. Be prepared to execute in those situations. Show him that you’re the go-to-guy off the bench. But also work on your weaknesses. If you’re on the bench, there’s probably a reason. Figure out what separates you from the starter and what it would take for you to get more playing time. Start working to get better. That’s a lot of different things to focus on, but nobody said it was easy to work your way up. You have to be dedicated and get after it. Practices become your games. Learn how to compete hard at practice and train yourself to focus 100% effort and attention to the task at hand. When you are locked in for each moment of training, big gains are more likely.
If you’re a starter right now, that doesn’t mean you can relax. In fact, it’s the opposite. Your team and your coach have given you their trust. Being honored as a starter means it’s time for you to work even harder. There is no excuse for anyone to be working harder than you. You’re going to be the guy on the field on game day, so you better have put in the work to prepare. Continue to give your all to improve and be the kind of teammate that makes those around you better.
If you’re at the point in your career where you’re realizing that you’re one of the best players on your team, and maybe even in your conference, let that realization drive you. Don’t be satisfied with where you are right now, because at some level there always will be someone who has more talent than you. It’s hard work that separates good players from elite players.
Just because the season has started, it doesn’t mean that the work behind the scenes has ended. It’s a long season, and the players who will be on the field at the end of the season are not necessarily the same as the guys who are out there right now. So be realistic about yourself. Figure out exactly what your role is. Then figure out what you need to work on to get better, and get after it. Practice hasn’t ended just because the season has started. Get your work in and make yourself into a better player, no matter what your role is at the start of the season.