Find out what 5 things you’ll need in college softball, before it’s too late.
Everybody wants to play college softball, but not everyone can. Find out what it REALLY takes.
Coaching college softball has really made it clear to me the hidden skills that allow good some players to be successful, while other good players struggle. You might think it comes down to size, or power or quickness, or throwing, hitting, pitching or running – and while those things are great to have, they won’t help you if these 5 skills aren’t present.
Prior to college, you’ve had parents and coaches looking out for you, taking care of details for you, even carrying your equipment for you. Once you get to college – that changes. Fast. You’re 18, an adult, and on your own. Yes, you’ll be part of a team, but the work, the responsibilities, the outcomes are ALL up to you! Nobody will do it for you.
If you aren’t ready for that, it’s a drastic change that can be overwhelming. Going from an environment where you’re the veteran who knows how things work and everything’s done for you, to suddenly having NO clue what’s going on, and having to do it all yourself can be overwhelming.
So, give yourself a head start. I’ve created my list of 5 skills that are crucial to making it possible for you to be a good college softball player:
- COMPETE – Without question this is
#1. You’re going to college not simply to “play” softball, but to help your team WIN! To do that, you’ve got to be able to compete. Compete for a
spot on the roster, compete for a starting position, compete against REALLY
good opponents, compete against adversity, compete against HUGE distractions,
compete against REALLY long and hard seasons. Compete, Compete, Compete!!
You can’t develop this deep desire to compete by simply trying to “show” people your talent. Competitors don’t care what other people think of them, or how they’re playing, they only care about beating their opponents! Players who might have skills, but can’t COMPETE are never going to be able to handle the pressure of playing college softball and as a result, won’t ever be able to use their skills in a game.
If you have ANY hope of playing college softball and really making an impact, you better learn how to compete, fight and win every time you put on your cleats!
- POWER THRU ADVERSITY – Another downside of only playing to be “seen” and not
playing to win, is that you rarely struggle. Struggle is part of competitive
softball. The other team practices ALL YEAR to show up on gameday and make you
struggle. Pitchers want hitters to struggle, hitters and umpires make pitchers
struggle, 5th year seniors will do skills that most freshmen can’t
imagine doing. The speed and power of college softball will make you struggle.
New coaching methods, information and expectations will create a tough
situation for you, so at first you’ll struggle. Classes are much harder.
Struggle will be EVERYWHERE in college. The question isn’t how do you avoid it.
The question is how will you handle it? You WILL encounter it and if you get
frustrated, freaked out and panic, then you’re toast.
But if you’ll put in extra work, get determined and figure out how to get better and get the job done, then you’ve got a chance to be successful playing college softball.
- EXTRA WORK – Once you get to college,
the work isn’t over – it simply begins. In addition to all the team practices,
weight workouts, study halls and tutoring sessions, you’re going to have to put
in EXTRA work on your own. Work on your hitting in the cages, pitching in the
bullpens, fielding work on the field with a teammate, and tons of studying.
Extra work means that you’re doing this on your own without any coaches asking you to, or even teammates helping you. When you come into college you start as a freshman, which means your experience is younger, your strength is weaker, your skill level is lower and your academics habits are lazier. ALL of these skills have to be improved, which will take A LOT of work – and the majority of that work needs to be done BY YOU – not by your parents, or by your coaches, or by your teachers. YOU have to quickly become a self-reliant adult, which is what you are legally at 18 – an adult.
If you have ANY hope of playing college softball and really making an impact, you better learn how to do the extra work in every part of your life!
- TAKE CARE OF YOUR STUFF – No matter what college you
go to, there will be a LOT of stuff for you to take care of. Previously, your parents looked out for you and probably did your laundry, managed your
schedule, drove home and got any equipment you forget, bought new stuff that you lost, found skill coaches and tutors for you, and even found new teams if you didn’t like the one you were on. That ALL changes in college. You’ll still have parents, but they can’t, won’t and shouldn’t do all of that for you. You’re learning how to become an adult, and adults operate independently from their parents. You’ll be expected to suddenly manage things on your own, and “things” will include the following:
- Timeline – you will have to know where to be and when to be there. And then be there on time!
- Academics – you will have to go to class, pay attention, do the work, study and get good grades.
- Skill Building – you’ll be responsible for improving all of your skills so that they’re ready to beat college players and not just high school aged players.
- Equipment – you’ll have to carry all your equipment, make sure you bring it everywhere, take it back with you, in addition to other equipment duties you’ve been assigned. There’s LOTS more equipment in college softball and with a few very elite exceptions, you won’t have loads of managers taking care of it for you!
- Knowledge – you will be responsible for learning and remembering ALL the new softball information that’s required for success in college. You’ll have new coaches teaching you new things, and you’ll be expected to learn and trust these new things. Your former lessons instructors won’t be your new coaches, so you’ll have to adjust and be responsible for your new knowledge.
- ITS NOT ABOUT YOU – You’re simply a part of a team. You’ll have a role that you may or may not really like, but that’s irrelevant. Your job is to contribute as much as you can to the team by doing your job, playing your role and helping your teammates every chance you can. Doing your job to help your team isn’t something you get to do just when you’re starting, or when you’re happy with your teammates, or when you get to play your favorite position. You must do the job and role you’ve been given every day, every inning, every play.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing more fun than being a part of a great college softball team. Knowing you were a part of something bigger than yourself, and that you played a part in your team’s success is gratifying, but that contribution takes hard work, sacrifice and insight. Give yourself a head start and begin mastering the 5 things listed above. You’ll enjoy your experience so much more and you won’t leave wondering what might have been.
If you’re looking for college level coaching help, you’ll want to check out our Pitching and Hitting Vaults!