This spring I was busy everyday with a brand new experience, division 1 high school baseball. In all my years playing baseball, I would start at third base, bat somewhere in the middle of the lineup, and play the whole game. High School baseball, however, would be something totally new and foreign to me. After breaking my back last year, my initial goal was to make the team where many guys end up being cut. Mission accomplished – but it was bittersweet. Seeing 19 freshman and sophomores on the roster, I knew instantly that playing time would be rough. I had two complete “studs” blocking me at my two positions, first and third. They were older, stronger and simply better and deserved to be played ahead of me. I recognized this and asked coach if I could move to the outfield, but he wanted to keep me where I was to develop me for next year. As it turned out, I would not start this year and barely saw any playing time. I learned how frustrating baseball can be when you are blocked by someone ahead of you. Most importantly, I learned how to work through it with patience, persistence and paying my dues.
Patience/Paying Your Dues
Patience is vital to a ballplayer to stop frustration from creeping into your head if you are not seeing playing time. An opportunity has to come eventually for you to show what your worth. No one wants to sit the bench, but you can’t sit and pout about it, and for God’s sake don’t have your mom complain to the coach. You must simply understand that the person that is playing instead of you is better and it is not personal. You just have to accept it and pay your dues. This is just another part of mentally handling the game in a way I have not experienced before. Be patient and the time will come for you to prove yourself. It may not be next game or the game after that. It could very well be next year when your shot comes. I know mine is next year because my coach came and shook my hand at the end of the season and said, “Next year will be your year Dave.” While you are paying your dues on the bench take time to observe and learn more about the game. Don’t sit and watch the game aimlessly. Analyze counts to predict the next pitch, understand the situation going on in the field and the possible outcomes so when you do get in a game you’ll know what to do. Patience will pay off if you stay persistent.
Once I realized that I wouldn’t be starting, I knew I would have to work extra hard. This means, you go to practice every single day after school and bust your tail. By practicing everyday, I have noticed that I have improved more this year than ever before without playing much. In high school, I have noticed coaches value hustle and heart over anything else. Show your coach how much you love the game by giving it your all. Get there early! Stay late! And work your hardest even when the coach isn’t looking. Always sprint to anywhere you are going on the field. Believe me, your coach will start to notice you more if you persistently hustle and work hard. I could tell my coach saw hustle and heart in me because he took me off to the side multiple times to tell me that I was doing everything right and that he couldn’t get me in because of the stud in front of me who will be on Varsity next year. You can be persistent in the off season by practicing and getting stronger. In addition to playing ball all summer, I signed up to go to a weight lifting and conditioning camp every day this summer to become stronger and be in the best shape I can possibly be in by next year. There is no way I want to be beat out. You need to work harder than your competiton. I hope this time next year I am talking about how I won the starting job, hit dingers, and had a great season. I would then credit my patience, persistence and smile, knowing that I paid my dues.
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