The Ole Ball Game

My coach is making his son the starting pitcher on varsity?

by Wally

Wally asked: Hello Rick,

I just wanted to get some advice on my situation that I'm sure is quite common amongst atheletes. As I said before, my coach made his junior son the starting pitcher on varsity. I myself am in my senior year and had expected the position to be given to me, as well as my team-mates, family, and friends.

While practicing most of the summer our depth charts were posted toward the end our camps for the coming season (our school also has a summer league). While on my way to check out the roster I got a text from my best friend who is the catcher that I wasn't starting. I had to check it for myself, and he was right. I was second string to the coaches son.

I'd been working towards that position since freshman year, and was hoping that this year would be the year that all that hard work would pay off. I worked my way from the bench to starting on the JV team my sophomore year, then waiting my turn junior year. And finally when the time came for me to start it was taken away from me by a junior. Did I mention this would be only his SECOND year playing ever!?! And his dads THIRD year coaching!

I've thought of no ideal solutions. What do you advise I do Rick?

Rick answered: Wally, thank you for your question.

You are correct, this situation is common to all athletes in all areas of sports, at all levels. You have a somewhat less common additive,competing with your coaches son for a spot. While it is never ideal, it is what it is, and that part of the equation will not go away.

It sounds like you are committed to baseball and the program, and have had a solid approach to reaching your goal(s).

You are a senior, so there's no option to transfer to another school, this is your last opportunity in high school. You have much invested in the program, so not playing this year shouldn't be an option.

If you are interested in playing beyond high school, that means taking the situation as it exists and working to make it a positive. What can be done to accomplish that goal?

There are numerous situations and factors involved with the game of baseball, some of which you have control over, and an equally large list over which you don't have control.

Three factors going on for you right now, over which a player has no control are playing time, coaches and the expectations of others. It doesn't mean they are not a concern, they are. However, if you concentrate your energies on things over which you have no control, they will eat you up, as they are stealing the time and effort needed to focus your thoughts and efforts on what you can control.

You didn't mention whether you play a position when you aren't pitching, or whether you are strictly a pitcher? It would help to know what your status is.

While at this point in time you haven't been named as the starting pitcher, it is four to five months away for that season to start up. You can accomplish much for yourself in that time frame.

If you are one of two starting pitchers, you should see as many starts as the pitcher ahead of you, or visa versa if you become the number one. At this point it would be beneficial to move your focus onto being the most successful starting pitcher, rather than the number one. Focus On The Process and the Results Will Take Care Of Themselves.

In your estimation, have you out performed the coaches son during last spring and through this summer?

Has that number one slot in the rotation histrically gone to a senior, or has it been based on head to head competition?

You mentioned waiting your turn last year, did you get much mound time at all, or were the pitchers all seniors? How was the rotation divided this summer?

You worked your way from the bench to starting on the JV team as a sophomore. There is no reason that you can't do it again on the Varsity. Be the better pitcher, the guy they have to go to because you are getting it done.

You never know when that opportunity is going to show up. The trick to success is to be ready when the opportunity presents itself, step up and grab it, don't look back.

It sounds like you may be letting the fact that the player listed as the number one is a junior, and you are a senior. Out of your control. I can see where it would also be a concern because he is the coaches son. Out of your control.

Use both of those factors as motivators to prove the list was a mistake. At this point, it is only a list.

Use the upcoming months to improve on your deficiencies and fine tune your strengths. Set up a plan for how you are going to get there and stick to it.

Frame your situation in the positive. Use it as an opportunity to get stronger, take your game to another level, seperate yourself from your competition.

It is my belief that a major seperator between players and teams, at all levels, is the Mental Game. This is an area where you can gain a significant amount of ground on your competition, and you have the time to do so.

I highly recommend a book by H.A Dorfman, The Mental ABC's Of Pitching, a handbook for performance enhancement.

He also has written The Mental Game Of Baseball, a guide to peak performance.

Also, The Mental Keys to Hitting, A handbook of strategies for performance enhancement.

All are available on Amazon, in book stores, or on my website.

A quote from Mr. Dorfman from his pitching book: "Anger, in many ways is a feast...the chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at the feast is you!"

I am sure you are angry at your current situation, it would be natural to be.

Let your anger go, re-frame your situation to see this as the opportunity to improve your game that it is.

You will never regret the time and effort you put into this endeavor.

Please let me know how things are going. I would also like to get a little more depth about your situation, if you have time.

Yours in baseball,


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