This posting is primarily directed to 15u and 16u Gamers (2013, 2014 players).
We have now had hundreds of players go through high school baseball as freshmen and sophomores. Some have had great experiences. Others had bad experiences. It is important to have your expectations set properly and go into the high school baseball experience with the right mindset.
First a little grounding in reality. Of the 2010 Gamers playing college baseball right now, here is what they did during their freshman and sophomore years in high school:
During their freshmen year, 50% played freshman ball, 35% played JV and 15% played varsity.
During their sophomore years, 60% played JV and 40% played varsity.
Every situation is different. Some of our players go to huge high schools, some to small high schools. Some high school coaches push younger players to play “up”, while other coaches have firm policies to play juniors and seniors.
So, don’t get too caught up on whether you play freshman, JV or varsity baseball. Obviously, we would like you to play at the varsity level and hope that you get that opportunity.
But, we have had a number of players go on to play D1 college baseball that never played “up” in high school and did not even start as juniors. High school baseball is not necessarily a good indicator of college baseball potential or opportunities.
The opportunity to play “up” depends on a lot of factors, many of which are entirely outside of your control. My observation is that the process of selecting players to play “up” is not necessarily based on a players’ baseball talent, skill or attitude. Other factors clearly come into play, making the process seem almost random
This randomness can be quite frustrating for high school athletes and parents. But, it is outside of your control.
So, if you are selected to play “up”, congratulations. You need to work hard, continue to improve, earn playing time, be a leader and play like a Gamer.
Your challenge is to get pick up good habits from older teammates, and not pick up bad habits. I have seen too many freshmen play at the varsity level for all four years, and never get significantly better. By the time they are juniors, they start getting passed by. It happens all the time…don’t let it happen to you.
If you are not lucky enough to be selected to play “up”, just relax and focus on the things that can control. You need to do the same things as the players that are playing “up” — work hard, continue to improve, earn playing time, be a leader and play like a Gamer.
Your challenge is to overcome lower quality competition, fields and umpires to use the high school experience to improve your game, develop your skills and prepare you for the summer. With the right mindset, you can have a very successful and productive high school season without playing “up”.
This is what “pursuing excellence” is all about. You compete against yourself to get better, day by day, regardless of the level of competition you are facing. This is how you can take control of your high school baseball experience.
Remember John Wooden’s definition of success — “Success is the peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best that you are capable of becoming“.
Learning and mastering this mental approach is 10x more important than whether or not you play “up” as a freshman or sophomore in high school baseball. This is the mental approach that will ultimately help you succeed at higher levels of baseball and other aspects of your life.