High school sports are an important part of American society. They teach kids about the competitive nature of life and how to be good losers and good winners. It shows the value of teamwork, how to follow the rules, and when and why to push the boundaries of rules. Arkansans, like so many others, have been missing the value of high school sports. While high school baseball was canceled this past spring, it will be back. Here is a look at how to best guide a teen athlete to excel once it restarts again.
Making the Team
The first hurdle in high school success and beyond is simply making the team. For some, this will almost be a given, natural talent and family connections can make some kids a shoo-in. But for the vast majority, their inclusion hangs in the balance. Try-outs are the traditional and still most common way of new players making the team.
You need to be aware of how to impress at try-outs, and a lot of it is in your attitude. Dress like you are a baller, be smart and attentive, and most importantly listen to coaching. “Yes, coach” is the best phrase you can use in this circumstance. Another good piece of advice is to concentrate on showcasing YOUR game, don’t concern yourself with what other players are doing, or how coaches react to them, let them see the side of the game you excel at. In the long-run, you could be one of the many Arkansas high school players who are scouted for a college team. Getting into a powerhouse college program, after all, is the first step to fulfilling the same kind of MLB dream Lonoke’s Casey Martin was able to fulfill this past summer.
Understanding the Rules
The rules of baseball are complicated at the best of times, and it can be confusing for the young athlete as there are specific differences between high school rules and the pros. Watching pro ball players usually helps, but be aware of the small differences between the two versions of the sport. Don’t get caught up on this; most players don’t know every rule in the book, and coaches are looking at ability number one. The rules can be learned and coached later on.
The Right Equipment
It’s essential to ensure that you have the best gear you can afford. This is not always the advice we give to those starting; however, if you are looking to make the high school team, then it stands to reason that you are serious about progression in the sport. If you are at this stage, you want to give the best possible impression of your skills, which will be diminished if you are using second-rate equipment. Check out baseball bat reviews to get the best one for your style and pick something that will benefit you.
Being in shape matters. Baseball may not seem like it demands as much physical fitness on the surface, but don’t let its slow tempo fool you. Its top competitors still need to be explosive, and a unique blend of power and aerobic fitness is required to reach your potential. If there are two equally skilled ballplayers, but one has a little extra power to hit one out of the park, or just make that base, it doesn’t take a genius to work out who has the edge in that contest.
For proof, look no further than Heston Kjerstad, who developed enough power in this three years as a Razorback to go from middle-of-the-road prospect to the No. 2 pick in the 2020 MLB Draft.
Coaching & Mentoring
Obviously, you will get coaching when on the team, and you should always take your lead from the team coach on technique and team strategy. However, you only have limited hours with your school coach, and everyone can still make further gains. If you get an individual coach for your young athlete then you can really work on any weaknesses in their game, whether it’s fitness, or it’s batting technique, even positioning and fielding can be the difference between a win and a loss.
Plus, during this COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to work on your craft alone has never been more important.
Being a Team Player
Baseball is a team game, and as such it should be approached. There are certain individual elements to it, but be mindful of making your individual positives be ones that benefit the team as a whole. Being a team player does not start and end on the field, and it’s important to engage in team activities with your teammates after games and practice. In some special circumstances, that bond goes beyond the court or field of play. Just look at the inspiring story of the Marianna Lee High School basketball team in the face of racial prejudice.
How far can your hard work take you? Maybe your baseball road ends in high school, or maybe, just maybe, it continues on to the big stage in college. One day, the Arkansas Razorbacks will win a national championship, and you just might be one of the players who helps them do it.