By Ethan Guevin (Updated from 2013)
2014 is coming to a close and a new year, and a new season, are right around the corner. Maybe last year was a tough one for you. Maybe you were frustrated and you made some mistakes. You might have developed a reputation for being lazy, irresponsible, selfish, or a troublemaker. Does your reputation really matter? Yes. It matters because recruiters and coaches are going to take the time to find out all they can when considering players, including what coaches and teammates think about you. If you don’t put in the work to improve your reputation, you may lose your chance to play baseball at the next level. So, now what? Is it too late to turn things around? No! A new year means a new chance. It’s up to you to take it or waste it.
Where to start: When your reputation has been dealt a blow or you can’t shake a negative tag, the first thing to do is look objectively at why you have been given the bad label. Taking a hard look at yourself can be difficult to do, but it is a necessary step to determine how you got the negative reputation before you can begin to restore a more positive image. Is there a reason you have been labeled negatively? Have you done anything to deserve it? Is there a gap between your character and reputation, or do you have some things you need to work on? You’ve got to be honest with yourself, this is your future.
Ok, there is some truth behind the reputation, what do I do? If you believe that you’ve done things to deserve your bad reputation, there is nothing wrong with admitting to mistakes you’ve made. People are very forgiving if you take responsibility for what you’ve done. Admit your mistakes, apologize to the people you have wronged, show your teammates that you are working towards not making the same errors in the future. Taking these steps can help to restore your good reputation. While talking about change is important, you need to really follow through on your commitments or you risk making things even worse. There is no better way to shake a negative reputation than to continually prove it wrong.
The sources for my bad reputation are baseless, what now? If your negative reputation is undeserved, you are in a difficult position. Trying too hard to leave the label behind can make you seem fake. The best thing to do is continue to do things right and work harder than ever. Eventually you will shed the tag and people will see that they’ve been wrong about you. Speaking one-on-one with your coach can be very helpful in clearing the air from the top. As we said above, there is no better way to shake a negative reputation than to continually prove it wrong.
If you are concerned that a college coach or recruiter isn’t talking to you, or stops talking to you, because of a bad reputation, you need to be respectful about it and ask for a chance to explain yourself. Don’t whine or complain, just be honest and explain how you are turning things around.
While these steps may seem simple, the hardest and most important part is being honest with yourself. You cannot completely control your reputation, but you can control your actions and your character. Start the new year off right. You can never go wrong putting the team first, working hard, and being a good teammate.