Character describes the way someone thinks, feels, acts and behaves. Baseball teams at every level, from t-ball to the majors, are looking for players with strong character who do the right thing and treat people with respect. Players with strong character bring a positive energy and make those around them better, and that’s always a desired outcome for college baseball teams. Showing that you have good character will be easy. Just continue to be a good person and do the things you learned in the Junior Giants program. The four bases of character development are always relevant, whether you are playing baseball or not!
As you already know, having good character has as much to do with what you do off the field as what you do when you are on it. Players who demonstrate poor character or get into trouble off the field have trouble getting recruited to play college baseball, no matter how talented they are. When you are on a college team, everything you do on and off the field is seen as a reflection of your team and the school you represent. College coaches don’t want to risk having players who make them, the team, or the school, look bad. Let’s take a look at some of the areas that college coaches will use to judge the quality of your character.
Covering All the Bases
First Base: Be a Good Teammate
Baseball teaches many wonderful life lessons and learning to be a part of a team is one of them. Baseball is a team game, and being a good teammate is rule #1. Being a good teammate is one of the most important ways of demonstrating quality character on the field. Whether you are the star player or sitting on the bench should have no impact on the way that you interact with your teammates and support the team goals. Make it a priority to give all your teammates positive encouragement and support. Every college roster has players who are “good team guys” and help create good team chemistry. As one college coach told us about his recruiting practices, “I watch how [the recruit] interacts with his teammates during the game. I like to watch in between innings, especially after they make an out or error. I look for good body language, supporting their teammates and a fine focus on the game while in the dugout.” If you bring a strong character along your baseball skills, there is a good chance there will be a place for you on a college roster.
Second Base: Academics
At many college levels, baseball and academics are closely tied together. Your reputation at school and your academic standing are things that coaches will monitor closely and lump into their evaluation of your character. In order to be eligible to play baseball for a college team, you’ll have to make good grades and meet academic eligibility requirements. This means that starting in 9th grade, the classes you take and grades you get matter. Beyond that, coaches and college recruiters will want to see that you treat your teachers and classmates with respect and that you have a good reputation around campus. Your academics are also often lumped in with your character because they represent your effort and attitude in the classroom. College coaches care a lot about your grades and SAT/ACT test scores. The easiest way to receive a college scholarship and an offer to play baseball at the college level is to make good grades and have good test scores. Simply put, your grades and reputation at school will be a major checkpoint for interested college coaches. Keep working to be the best student and classmate you can be.
Third Base: Avoid “Off-Field Issues”
Having a quality character is not only about being a good teammate and demonstrating good sportsmanship, it’s about treating everyone in your community with respect. College coaches often ask if a recruit has any “off-field issues” to find out about their character. College coaches want to ensure that their focus remains on coaching baseball and winning games. Any off-field issues serve as a distraction not only to you, but to the team and its goals. By treating people with respect and standing up for what’s right, you can avoid a negative label and the recruiting problems that come with it.
Home Plate: Do the Right Thing
Team leaders don’t always have to be the best players on the field. In fact, anyone can become a team leader. Leadership is about building relationships, treating people with respect, and doing the right thing at all times. This may start between the lines, but being a leader doesn’t stop once you leave the field. Remember the “strike out bullying” campaign you were a part of with the Junior Giants? Continue to uphold your pledge and work to create a welcoming environment for everyone, both on and off the baseball field. It may be tough to stand up to bullying, but character means doing the right thing, even when it’s difficult. Not only will this show coaches that you have the guts to stand up in big situations, it will show them that you can help build a positive and winning culture in their program.
By now you are starting to get a clear picture of the steps you can take to show coaches you have what it takes to play at the college level. Like Character, our last core area, Attitude and Effort, can make or break your college baseball opportunities, no matter how talented you are. Click here to find out why a positive attitude and great effort matter so much.
Keep Playing Baseball has some great resources to help you deal with bullying and other issues that may come up on your team. This article has advice on dealing with challenging personalities and this one has suggestions for stepping up to deal with conflict on your team. If you need more help, be sure to talk to with your coach.