Two kids are trying out to play shortstop. Jeremy has all the talent in the world to be a five tool player, always making the sensational play or getting a big hit. However, he is always fooling around and not working hard. He never encourages is teammates. Jeremy enjoys his parties and late night video games. He shows up to practice half crapping it, but still is obviously the best player on the field despite that he drags his butt going on and off the field. Jakob on the other hand has some talent, but isn’t close to Jeremy’s natural “level.” Jakob, however, comes to practice early ready to work, stays late for extra batting time and always gives it his all. He loves nothing more and desires no more than to be on the ball diamond. He always hustles and leaves it all on the field. Let me ask you this…what should the coach do?
Most coaches may start the more talented kid and I don’t disagree with that. They are the better player and deserve to start. The problem is that I see that some coaches can be blinded by talent and their own desire to win and they tend to forget about their hardest working players on the bench. Let’s say Jeremy plays no other position, so there is no room for Jakob. Jakob may barely touch the field the entire year, yet still gives the most effort. Sometimes, effort is never ever rewarded.
Effort needs to be rewarded so that those hardworking players don’t lose heart. If you reward effort, Jakob gains more confidence and this motivates him to keep working at his 3 P’s like I’ve preached. If Jeremy sees Jakob getting rewarded and not himself, it may very well light a fire under his butt. If the most talented, but “lazier” player feels that someone much less talented than him is taking his position, it has to scare them. They’ll either cry to their parents about it so they can yell at the coach or hopefully they will work harder. If a coach gets that call from a parent, they should tell them straight up that he is being out hustled. Jakob has the heart and the desire….I don’t think you can teach those qualities in a player. The value is not measurable. In the long run, those with the heart, the desire, the hustle, eventually beat out the Jeremys of this world.
The cocky, no effort, uncoachable kids all eventually hit their peak, and never climb any higher. Coaches may not notice at first, but eventually they will, trust me. Coaches need to put the Jeremys of a team on notice early on, encouraging them to change their entitled ways – it will help them from sinking when and if they move on in the game and aren’t the big fish in a little pond anymore. A season shows character and the type of people on a team – There is room for success for both the Jeremys and the Jakobs on every team. Don’t lose HEART! Be that “little engine that could” and give it your all and you’ll eventually be the tortoise passing up the hare.
Thank you to Wicked Baseball for the picture to inspire this article.