I bet you were thinking I was going to list skills like throwing hard, running fast and hitting for power, right? Great skills to have. Even having one of them will open many doors for you. But I am talking about non-technical skills that will not only help get you to a college campus, but help keep you there for as long as you can be.
College baseball is a very realistic goal for many high school players. There are thousands of high school students with the talent to play college baseball but not all of them possess the mentality it takes to have success at the next level. Physical ability may allow you to get into college but your physical and mental toughness will be what keeps you there.
Here are 3 essential non-technical skills you will need to excel at to become, and more importantly REMAIN, a collegiate baseball player.
High school baseball players may think their coach is tough on them by having long and physically draining practices. The truth is there are very few high school coaches that will make you do a third of what college coaches do. Practice can go anywhere from 2 hours to 4 hours 5-6 days a week. Practice will consist of a lot of team and individual work along with hitting and a potential intersquad game. Depending on the coach, it’s very likely that any practice you could finish it with jogging 2-4 miles and doing sprint work. Aside from practice, some coaches will make you get up between 5-7am and put you through a weight lifting routine. During the season you may have anywhere from 3-6 games that consist of long bus rides or flights that your body will need help getting used to. The physical toll the body will endure may not be easy so athletes need to give their body every advantage by getting enough sleep and eating as well as possible.
A lot like major league baseball, the mental toughness it takes to compete throughout an entire college season is over looked as a necessary quality to achieve success. A college season typically runs from early February until the end of May. Playing baseball for 4 months means you have to adjust to a lifestyle of traveling, long bus rides, hotels, classes, homework and practice. These lifestyle changes can be mentally draining and will require personal adjustments and willingness to make the best out of your situation. It’s important to try and avoid problems that may arise by preparing for the season well in advance. You can prepare for the season by planning how you are going to handle your responsibilities and having constant communication with teachers. Having your school work under control will reduce the majority of the stress involved with a college baseball season.
Ability to Handle Adversity
The ability to handle adversity is going to make or break your career as a student athlete. The life of a college athlete can be extremely difficult, but your success will be based on how you handle the difficult situations. Adversity in college can come in the form of on and off the field issues. On the field there are very few baseball players that don’t have to worry about a position in the starting lineup. This means you are constantly being evaluated and failure will be a major part of the evaluation process. Luckily for everyone, baseball is a game of failure but not a game of quitters. To have success playing collegiate baseball you need to be able to learn from your mistakes and maintain a positive attitude towards getting yourself better. Not only will you have adversity on the field but adversity will come in the classroom as well. Many times a student will struggle in the classroom and their negative attitude towards school will carry over on the field. If a student is willing to put the work in and better themselves in the classroom, they will certainly have the ability to work through their problems on the baseball field.
It takes a lot of discipline to be a successful collegiate student athlete. The majority of good players are excellent students as well. The reason for this is not a coincidence - it’s because the attitude it takes to have athletic and academic success is the same. It takes a person with a dedication to bettering themselves along with a passion to be the best person they can be. What it takes to be a college baseball player is an attitude of wanting to achieve what you’re capable of and making the best of every situation you’re in.
Kevin Hussey BSc, MSc
The Baseball Zone
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