3-1-17 DEALING WITH THE FRUSTRATIONS OF HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL
No matter what your team is like, high school softball offers you the opportunity to work on your game and, in many cases, to prepare for summer travel ball. Yet unfortunately, I frequently hear from athletes who struggle with high school softball. They don't get along with the coach, or the coach doesn't teach them the way their travel ball coach does, or they can't hit slow pitching, and so on. While it's likely that I hear more from players with problematic high school situations than from those with great coaches and teams, the fact remains that for some players, high school ball isn’t a positive or constructive experience.
Here's my philosophy. Whatever your situation---positive or negative---try to learn from it and get everything out of it you can. If you’re lucky enough to make a college softball team, things won’t always be rosy there either! There will be days when you are tired or injured, have a big paper due, haven't done your laundry for three weeks, and your coach isn't starting you because you're not hitting the ball. You may even find yourself thinking, "Gee, high school ball was so easy."
While high school statistics may not count as much as your competitive travel ball experience, your softball skills, your grades, your commitment to excellence, and so on, it is still important that you work on improving the weaker areas of your game. High school softball almost always offers you a chance to do this. So try to have some fun. Become a leader on your team and encourage your high school teammates to join you in making the team the very best it can be!
4-1-17 MAKE PERSPECTIVE YOUR ALLY DURING YOUR COLLEGE SEARCH
If you viewed your college search as a grid or graph, the smartest approach would be to try to find the intersection of colleges that have what you need and college teams that really want you to play. Logically, these would be the schools where you'd have a higher probability of finding success both on and off the field. But sometimes, players (and moms and dads) are so focused on a specific type of school that they miss out on what could actually be a better academic and/or athletic opportunity.
Here's an example. A player who thinks she'll only be happy at a Div. I college is offered a recruited walk on spot by one or two smaller D-I programs. At the same time, a top-ranked NAIA program offers her a very decent scholarship package, a starting spot, and the chance to play for a winning team that almost always goes to regionals. The D-I schools recruiting this athlete are trying to strengthen their programs and grow, of course, but their chances of making the WCWS or even regionals while this player is there remain very small. On the other hand, the NAIA team is practically guaranteed one or more NAIA Championship appearances during her four years. As a bonus, if she were to be a major contributor, she would have a shot at being an All Region or even an All American candidate.
Obviously, you need to find the college that's best for you. But in the above scenario, if all other factors are equal, is it really the smartest softball choice to choose a smaller D-I school where you're not even guaranteed playing time let alone the chance to be an All Conference player? Yes, you want to pick the best college for your academic, social and financial needs. But you might want to take a long look at all the schools whose coaches reach out to you. Regardless of your goals and interests (which may well change when you get to college), try to step back far enough to gain some perspective. Your college softball experience should be fun and worth remembering. It will be hard work, but that work should have a payoff, and that payoff should be getting the chance to make a real contribution to your team's success!