If you are a guy who doesn’t get that much playing time, it is easy to get lazy or feel sorry for yourself. You may think that you are never going to get your shot to play, so why make the effort? Having this mentality will surely kill any hopes you have of seeing the field. To get in the game, you have to increase your value to the coaches. It may take some time to polish your skills enough for the coach to put you in a game but there is one thing that you can change right here and now: attitude. It all starts with attitude.
The harsh reality is that for some reason(s) you aren’t getting much playing time. There is a saying that, “you can’t control what you can’t control.” One thing you cannot control is whether or not the coach puts you in the game. But, you can control how you react to the situation and how prepared you are when your number is called. Instead of complaining, pouting, and bringing down your teammates, you can control the effort you put into making yourself the best ballplayer you can be. If you put your energy into becoming better (treating practice reps like your game reps), you will make the most of your opportunities and have a better chance at getting more playing time.
Here are some tips to increase your value to the coach and your team:
1. For a guy who sits on the bench a lot, practice is your game. It may be the only opportunity you have of showing the coaches your skills, a taste of what they will get if they decide you deserve a starting spot or more prominent playing role. Don’t waste time thinking about what you would do, “if you got a chance.” Realize that every practice is your chance to show the coach what kind of player you are. You have to treat practice like it is game 7 of the World Series, focus on every swing, every throw, every stretch, everything. You can’t afford to be lazy when this is all the coaches will see of you. Effort, attitude, and focus are a must.
2. Don’t treat games like they are an day-off. Study the game. Watch with intent. Examine the opposing team, your team, and whoever is starting in your position, and consider what they do that you don’t. Ask other players and coaches questions about situations and strategy. Volunteer to do a chart or role that will keep you locked in. By doing this, you will learn the ins and outs of the game while showing the coaches your head is in the game and not in the clouds.
3. Look for ways to help your team win. Do a good job in keeping the book or charts. Watch the game closely and look for tendencies in the opposing teams’ signs or pitches. Watch your team’s offensive signs so you get practice seeing them. Be the guy who knows what is going on in every inning.
4. Be positive. Positivity is contagious and there is no feeling like helping the dugout get loud to inspire a late rally. Pick players up who are down, and celebrate the small wins of others like they are your own.
5. Be ready – physically and mentally. You never know when the coach is going to put you in a game, so when that happens, make sure you are ready to make the most of the opportunity. Make sure you know the situation and what is needed from you.
All of these things will make you a better player, a better teammate, and a better person. You can’t control getting in the game or not, but when all is said and done, leave no doubt that you have done everything you can to be the most valuable player on the bench and to help your team win.