One of the great things that baseballs can teach young ballplayers is how to deal with adversity and rejection.
The great majority of youth leagues and teams nowadays have “must play” rules. Everyone makes a team. Everyone gets to play at least every other inning. This has the advantage of keeping every player involved in the game and all their parents connected. These are good things. Kids will hopefully turn this into a longlasting love of the game.
However, what these rules do is also take away much of the competition. Nobody has to compete to make a team. There is no great incentive for players to spend time between their baseball seasons practicing to get better so they have a better chance of earning a spot. Life is full of competition some of it fair and some of it stacked against you. At some point everyone needs to learn to deal with this reality in order to make the most of every situation.
This season, I am coaching again at the high school level. Of course, we had to make cuts. We told some teenagers that had played baseball since they were five or six years old that we weren’t offering spots to them this year. However, we told every young player specifically what we thought they should do to improve their game. To make our lives difficult next year when figuring out who to keep and who to cut. We told them that we believe that they could make the team if they worked hard in the next 350 days. How many young men do you think will do that?
One parent wrote an email to us, telling us how sad it was to see Johnny’s dreams crushed. We were told that he threw his baseball glove in the trash that night after he was cut. So parents, ask yourself these questions.
How would you handle this if your son acted that way?
Is fifteen old enough to give up on something for good?
After allowing your son a short period to feel sad, what would you encourage him to do?
It’s an absolute – the game eventually tells everyone when it’s time to stop playing highly competitively. As you rise in the ranks of baseball, the talent gets stronger and there are fewer available spots at the highest levels. You may never get to play at those levels, but there’s still plenty of opportunity to enjoy the game. There are recreational teams in almost every area of the country for almost every age level.
Never let one coach’s decision take the game away from you.