From a coach’s perspective, here’s what I’ve noticed with youngsters coming of age in this sport.
The main thing that these young men have is a personal identity that stands out. Whether it’s the way they act in crowd, their language, their self confidence, their demeanor, their simple courtesy in the company of a lady - opening the car door for mom or taking their cap off when a lady approaches him or the group he’s with, etc. I also notice how quite their mannerism is- but not overly so. These young men are just that - young men. They’re not looking for mom and dad’s approval at every turn, nor are they running back and forth to the parents for every little thing.
These players also have a quality of style, attentiveness and constant eye contact when being addressed. Their focus is almost like a cold steel look - very sober. On the other hand, their sense of humor doesn’t get pushed out of the way either.
Performance on the field goes without question - they’ve got “ it”. But, sometimes not the necessary stuff that can spell immediate success. There are things that are intangible, not easily spotted by the untrained eye, things that can go completely by the boards by the casual observer – and believe me there are a lot of casual observers in the coaching business … at all levels. That’s why exposure is important. And on that note, there is something called “workability” at the amateur level where a youngster has great potential - it just needs a little work that’s all. So stick with the fundamentals, work on the basics, the foundation(s) that supports everything else.
Ok, now more directly to your son. If he wants to be a student athlete then he has to start thinking like a student athlete. Priorities, priorities. Hit the books religiously. Let the dean of students and the admissions office give the thumbs up for any coaching staff who is interested in your son - it’s that important. Have your son follow up the academics with a sound nutrition, strength and conditioning program that yells - I’M AN ATHLETE. A dynamic breakfast is a given- fruit, grains and dairy, do the homework to plan a time management schedule that’s both realistic and attainable to plan for breakfast and what follows.
Coaching skills enhance any youngster’s potential * - but who and where? Again, be aggressive in watching and learning as much as one can. Being a keen observer of others can work very well, in addition to thinking things out, step by step. Hashing things over with someone who has the same interests can be very worth while too. However, be cautious here with being a “copy cat” of someone else’s body style and technique. We’re all different, you and I, and our interpretation of what we see and how beneficial something can be leaves the door open to a lot of guesswork. Be patient and reasonable with your approach- it’s not that difficult.
Be ready for a self absorbing existence during the junior year of high school. Making a college baseball club is serious business - if your son has ambitions of making it with the high rollers.
Sometimes, a lot of things can take a backseat to your son’s athletic ambitions. Things like a social life, family commitments, friends at school and in the neighborhood. Also, once your son really takes off, your family life can orbit a lot of what your son is doing, at the expense of a lot of other things in the family. Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, a family member who is sick and needs tending, sibling events, company outings and parties, even some religious events and observances … take a backseat to a youngster who just HAS to make THIS game, showcase, event. And last but never least is the money that your about to invest, without any tangible evidence of that investment paying off … ANYBODY. It’s all a gamble.
I’ve seen some very talented people get blind-sided at the eleventh hour by some of the most unexpected chain of events. So, be ready for it.
- I’ll PM you later with some additional suggestions and remarks.