Normally, this is the point in many high school and college seasons when the playoff field is starting to take shape. By now many teams would have locked down playoff berths and others would still be in the playoff hunt. Of course, competing for a playoff spot and playing playoff baseball is a remarkable experience that every baseball player should strive for. However, as seasons come to the end with many teams still in the playoff hunt, there are just as many out of it. Some teams and players will disregard these “meaningless” games because they do not affect the standings and there is “nothing” on the line. Other teams and players will use these games to get the most out of themselves and continue to improve, regardless of whether they are “meaningful” or not. If you are serious about playing college baseball, you’ll do the latter when you get back on the field. In fact, the mark of a college ready baseball player is a one that plays the game as if there is meaning behind everything they do. They play and conduct themselves this way because there IS meaning in everything they do. As the saying goes, “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.” Strive to be that player and you’ll have meaning, even in seasons that don’t go as planned.
Here’s a common scenario to use an example:
Let’s imagine you are a junior on your high school team with aspirations of playing in college. You and your team got off to a slow start and you do not have great stats and the team is eliminated early from playoff contention. In spite of this, a few college coaches that you reached out to with video at the beginning of your season liked what they saw and are finally getting out to see you play. The situation is full of opportunities. Do you want them to see a player who plays like the game is “meaningless”? A player whose attitude and effort are driven by results? Is that the type of person and player you want to be known as, on or off the field? Of course not! If you play uninspired, low energy baseball, the college coaches will cross you off their list immediately and move on to the next player.
So now let’s imagine a different scenario. If coaches show up and see a player playing like his pants are on fire, despite the fact that his team is out of contention, it will be a major positive and can actually help you get recruited. College coaches want players who are internally motivated because those players stay focused and driven better than externally motivated players in a long college season. In our scenarios, you have no idea the coaches are coming to see you play, and that’s by design. Often times, coaches won’t give players a heads up to let them know they are coming for the very reason that they want to see how players prepare and play when they think no one is watching. In other words, when players are just playing because they love the game and are trying to win. College baseball is a long season and if you cannot play hard for a high school season, coaches know there is a good chance the college season will be no different. So as a player, your job is easy— play hard every time you step on the field and play to win. Each and every day, you should play like the coach from your top choice college program is watching you, because you never know!
At the end of the day, every single opportunity you get to play this game should be cherished. Playing hard all the time, even in “meaningless” games show what type of person you are and will be beneficial to you as you move along in the recruiting process and in life.