If one more player or parent asks me if I think it would be wise for them to quit playing high school softball, I am going to scream!
I started my career as a high school coach so I am very sentimental about the memories I have from coaching at the high school level. If I still have such strong feelings about coaching, what would make someone think a player should give up the opportunity to make memories of their own.
I understand that many high school programs don’t play really high-level softball, but that doesn’t diminish the value of playing. It seems to me that the push to give up high school ball is driven by coaches and parents in the travel ball world.
This thinking is very misguided at best and down right evil at worst.
The reality is that no matter how weak a high school program might be, a talented player can gain a great deal from playing.
1. Leadership: Get involved in helping the other players on the team improve and gain from your knowledge and experience.
2. Repetitions: You get to go to practice almost every day. You can’t hurt your game by practicing.
3. Memories: You will make friends, play in exciting games and see your teammates grow and learn. You’ll also cheer, smile, cry, and remember!
4. Notoriety: Your high school team will often be covered in the local media. There is something very cool about reading your name in the newspaper, online, or on the news.
5. Accolades: Being recognized as an all-whatever player is a very cool memory.
6. Preparation for the atmosphere of a college program: High school much more closely resembles what a player will go through in college. Getting along with teammates, time management, conflict resolution, and balancing academics and athletics are key to success in both levels.
When someone tells me they are considering giving up high school ball they usually have a list of reasons that include some of the following:
I will spend more time on developing my game.
It is very difficult to imagine that a player will replace daily practice with the same amount of self-directed hours of instruction and practice).
The level of competition is too weak.
No matter what the level of competition, there is a lot to be gained from competing.
My high school coach is an idiot.
Wow, you really want to be this person? Try telling the college coaches you want to recruit you that you are so all-knowing that you can determine if a coach isn’t worthy of coaching you.
I need a break.
If you want to play softball in college, the grind of high school is like summer vacation compared to college. Use this as a chance to prepare.
Not playing high school softball is a red flag for many college coaches. If you are trying to play collegiate ball, I would be very careful about the choices you make and the message it sends to potential coaches.
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.