6 Lessons to Turn Your Underclass into Leaders

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With the graduation of your Seniors, the underclass players will have to step up next season into leadership roles. Teach them how to do just that in the few remaining weeks of this season.

If this senior class has some solid and influential leaders see how to replace them without your team skipping a beat.

You can’t afford for your team to fall into a leaderless black hole next season simply because “we don’t have any leaders”. Leaders are often unlikely people with very solid qualities that deliver consistently and under pressure. And the biggest quality that any good leader has is respect.

Respect is a funny thing – true respect is gained and never just given. You can’t have it just because you’re a senior. Respect is something players actually give you because you’ve done something to earn it. Having amazing talent might be one way to earn your teammate’s respect, but it isn’t something most of us have. Most of us aren’t amazing, and yet very average-skilled players can become very good leaders.

So, what about you? If you’re an underclass player on a team with some really good leading seniors, what can you do in the remaining few weeks of your season to prepare yourself to become one of next season’s leaders – whether you have great talent or not?

  1. Watch, Listen, Learn – I’ve listed this first because right now, you’re in a condensed leadership class. Your seniors will only be there for a few more weeks so you’ve got to pay close attention to everything they do. Watch how they interact with all your teammates, how approachable they are, and how they help everybody stay relaxed. And if you have more than one senior, watch how they don’t all do things the same way. Some of them might be constantly smiling and laughing – which certainly helps everyone relax. Others might be quieter, but are super dependable under pressure. While others might not even be starters but they’re friendly and hard working. Start paying attention to all the different forms that leadership takes. And just as importantly, look at those seniors who might not be leaders and do your best to figure out why. This is your classroom, next year is your final, and time is running out.
  1. Earn it – Without question, this is THE most important aspect of being a leader. You’ve got to earn your teammates’ respect! And fortunately, there are lots of ways that can happen. A few of you will earn it by your incredible skills and how clutch you are under pressure. But let’s face it – there won’t be many of you. The rest of you will have to earn it by turning your normalness into a super-power. For instance, you might not be a starter, but you’re SUPER glad you’re on the team and you work really, really hard every day, at everything you’re asked to do. Well your teammates will respect you for that, because it’s probably not something they feel they could do and still have such a great attitude. Or you’re super positive and supportive of your teammates, so you’ll gain their respect from your ability to give your support. While others of you might be really quiet but you’re willing to settle problems on the team when others find that super difficult. There are lots of ways to earn your teammate’s respect, so take what you do best and try to use that quality to help inspire, support, or relax your teammates.
  1. Beat the Drum of Tradition – It’s the seniors that help tell everyone how “we do it here”. That includes things like, when we need to get to practice, how we warm up, how we wear our practice uniforms, how we handle a loss, how we behave in the classroom. There are tons of opportunities to spread the word about the behavior that is expected to be a member of your team so watch closely how your seniors handle these last few weeks. How do they handle their finals, manage all their practices and their studies, how do they handle their exit meetings and their good-byes? Make a list of all the ways things are done on your team because next year – it’s your drum to beat!
  1. Be a Rock Star Teammate – Being an awesome player doesn’t make you a leader. If you’re super talented but a selfish teammate nobody will listen to you. And conversely, you might not have enough talent to play a single inning but you don’t let that effect your attitude so you support every teammate with all you’ve got. The first player won’t have any body’s respect so she’s definitely not a team leader, while the second player sits the bench and yet everybody respects her. Instead of getting so absorbed in your own failure or situation, become a rock star teammate and care about your teammates. Help them play better, rebound faster and calm down. The more you help others, in spite of how you’re playing, the more you gain your teammate’s respect!
  1. Only When They Need it – Leaders aren’t dictators. Watch how your current seniors listen a lot & don’t have to act like hot-shots because they lead with their actions, and they only lead when it’s really needed. Remember that you’re just a team leader, not the head coach, so leave the coaching to the coaching staff and lead with your actions and support. Leading is like sugar, we all like a little bit but too much isn’t good for us!
  1. Be Prepared – The final thing you’ll need to do to earn your teammates respect and become a leader for next season is to take care of your game. Be prepared. If you’re out of shape spend the summer getting into it. Improve your game this summer by hitting more, fielding more, pitching more, or catching more. Flush out any toxic thoughts and feelings you might have had from this season and come back better prepared. Strengthen your mental game by putting time into your skills. We tend to respect people who do things that we can’t. Be that person. Pick something hard to do and do it this summer. Not only will it strengthen you personally but it’s a sign of how important your teammates are to you as well!

While it’s easy to see the positions our team will need to replace next season, it’s as important to notice the leadership we’ll be losing. Help your younger players make the jump and become a leader next season by guiding them through these 6 Lessons to Turn Your Underclass into Leaders!

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