Are you struggling with whether you should play softball for your high school team or not? If so then read my 11 reasons for doing so and see if they change your mind.
I’m always asked by travel ball players and their parents whether I think they should play school ball or not. The reason most of them give for not wanting to play is they feel that school ball isn’t as good as travel ball. That might be so in some cases, while in other cases the local high school softball team is a machine.
No matter how good your local high school team is I’m a big proponent for playing high school ball, and I’ll give you 11 reasons why, in a minute. But in the meantime, I want to defend high school coaches for 2 reasons:
- High school softball can’t search the state to find the best players as most travel ball teams do.
- In most cases the coaches work extremely hard at improving themselves. I speak at lots of coaching clinics in the course of a year and by far, the coaches in the audience are high school coaches. In fact, high school coaches outnumber travel ball coaches 4-1 in their hunger for learning through either attending clinics or purchasing online training. I’m not trying to be mean with this statement but simply stating what I see on a year in and year out basis.
OK, with that said let’s get to my 11 reasons for Playing High School Softball:
- School Pride! – You get to play for your school, wear your school colors and compete on behalf of your school against other schools. There’s an excitement in doing this that you don’t get on your traveball team.
- Be a Part of Your School Athletic Program – While there might be other teams in your summer ball organization, they just play softball. When you play for your school, you become a part of ALL the teams that also play for your school. Athletes have something in common simply by playing for their school, and this connection is something you don’t have in travel ball.
- May be Only Time in Your Life You Can Play for Your School – While most softball players have dreams of playing college softball, the reality is that many won’t. That means high school could be the only time in your life you play for your school. There’s definitely something emotional about competing for your school by wearing your school name and colors against other schools. For many softball players, high school will be the last (and possibly only) time they’ll have this opportunity!
- Possibly be a Part of Some Big Rivalries – While there are no doubt some very big tournaments in travel ball, there usually aren’t many big rivalries. That’s another cool thing about school ball. Every school as an arch rival about whom they dislike and against whom they summon up more emotion. These rivalries are an exciting part of sports and are something that every athlete should get to experience.
- Play with Your School Friends – Lots of softball players have grown up going to school with the same kids and high school provides a great opportunity to play softball with those friends. Sure, that sounds more social than travel ball but a HUGE reason that many girls play softball is for the social aspect. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to play with your friends – it’s why adult softball leagues are so popular.
- Get to Play Another Position You Don’t Get to Play During travel ball – I think a HUGE advantage of playing school ball is that you can possibly either learn to play another position or else get more playing time at your second position. Of course this all depends on the makeup of your school team but it’s certainly an option that you need to consider as versatility makes you more valuable for future teams.
- Get a Lot of Playing Time – This one might not seem so obvious at first but the potential for a lot of playing time is a huge advantage that school ball has over travel ball. Typically travel ball games are played on time limits while school ball isn’t. School softball games go the full 7 innings which, unless you get to the finals of a major tournament, just doesn’t happen in summer ball. In addition, if you’re a pitcher on a travel ball team chances are your team has a couple good pitchers so you’re each getting to pitch about 3-4 innings a game. That’s not a lot of pitching over the course of a summer. And yet on your high school team you may be the ONLY pitcher, which means you’re throwing every inning of every game. That’s a fantastic opportunity to work on your endurance, additional pitches, different pitch combinations and generally improve your game.
- Exposure to Another Coaching Style – Learning how to take instruction from different coaches is like learning how to follow directions from different bosses – its part of life. Always playing for the same coach doesn’t broaden your horizons much so playing school ball can give you exposure to a different teaching style and temperament – both of which are great ways for you to expand yourself as a player.
- Possibility to be a Leader - While you may not be a leader on your travel ball team, playing on your school team just might give you that opportunity. If you play a lot of travel ball and your skills are greater than your school ball teammates, they’re going to look to you for direction. Becoming a leader is a tremendous skill that will serve you well throughout your life and school ball just might give you the chance to develop this part of yourself.
- Learn Patience with your Teammates – Since your teammates may not have quite the skill level that you do school ball is a wonderful opportunity to develop patience. Just because someone is bad doesn’t mean they want to be, or that they aren’t trying. Sometimes the very best we can do is not very good. So instead of getting mad and rolling your eyes and distancing yourself from your teammates when they struggle, try instead to encourage them. Practice being the person you’d like see if it was YOU making that same mistake. Instead of yelling at them let them know “it’s ok, now our plays at 2nd”, or “don’t worry, we’ve got your back”. Being patient and offering encouragement is what quality teammates do and school ball can offer you an opportunity to really improve both of these qualities!
- Enjoy Softball – Chances are if you’ve played travel ball very long then you’re familiar with pressure and tension from all directions. Coaches feel pressure, parents feel pressure and without a doubt, the players feel pressure. So much of this pressure and tension comes from the fact that everyone nowdays seems to be playing travel ball simply to get a scholarship. It seems like LONG gone are the days when people played softball because they loved playing softball. Well school ball offers you a fantastic opportunity to play softball because you love playing softball. It can bring the FUN back into the game by helping remove a lot of the pressure and relieve a lot of the tension that seems to surround travel ball. Softball is a game and games should be fun – no matter how important that game is, you’re going to play it at a much higher level if you enjoy what you’re doing. Dreading things, trying not to make mistakes, worrying about every single little error is not a relaxed mind frame and sure isn’t a very fun place to be. I’m not saying that anyone playing softball for their school doesn’t want to win, of course you do. But what I am saying is that for the first time in a very long time, when you play school ball you’ll remember how much fun you used to have playing softball!
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