Here is one of our older blog posts that we think deserves another look.
This time of year, you may feel like you need to show off your skills for the coaches and college recruiters who may come out to your games. There is a lot of pressure that falls on your shoulders to play well. If you don’t handle pressure well, you can end up getting crossed off recruiters’ lists and hurting your team’s chances. Coaches can tell when a player is pressing. They can see right away when a guy is trying to do something he isn’t skilled to do, like a little scrapper trying to hit bombs in BP; it just isn’t his game and it won’t show his skills.
Coaches want a guy who works hard, but isn’t pressing. They look for what one coach called “relaxed confidence.” When you are relaxed and playing your game, you will be able to show your skills at their best because you won’t be trying to do too much. Of course, relaxing in these situations is easier said than done. In order to relax, you have to mentally check in with yourself constantly throughout the game. This does not mean you check in before each at bat or new hitter you face. This means you check in on a pitch-by-pitch basis. A college-level player knows that every pitch has a new plan and a new purpose. It takes a lot of mental effort, but it’s the only way to keep yourself under control when all the outside factors tell you that you should be doing too much.
Relaxing does not mean you shouldn’t work hard! Working hard is a prerequisite of playing college baseball. Coaches are always on the lookout for the guy who shows something more than everyone else. Working hard starts during the pre-game and ends when you leave the field. But working hard does not mean coming unglued every swing or trying to do too much. It means confidently playing to your strengths and putting max effort into everything you do on the field. It means you need to sprint your 90’s, dive at balls you may not be able to get to, make the smart plays, take the extra base, and do what you need to get noticed for the right reasons!
Coaches and recruiters want to see your skills but they recognize that you might make mistakes. Coaches have told us they are looking for “great team guys who play the game hard” and players who are “going to hustle and compete” every time they are out on the field. That means that staying positive and putting in max effort go a long way even when luck or bad hops work against you.
Sure, everyone around you is trying to do the same thing you are. All high school players want the recruiters to put their names on the top of their lists, but you can’t force it. Instead of pressing and trying too hard, the best way to impress a college coach and help your team win is to trust yourself, play relaxed, play confident, and play hard.