June 2015 - Tip of the Month

What it Means to Have "it"

 

There is this saying out there in the baseball and softball world. "That player just has it". I recently had a parent ask me what this meant, and how does their kid get "it". It' not the easiest conversation to have, because most people who use the phrase, don't really know how to describe what "it" really is. Let me give it a whirl...

Some of you might not know, but this marks the 5th MLB season that I have been scouting for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. It's something I absolutely love doing. The affect it has had on my perception of the game has truly been enlightening. When you have to evaluate a player with complete objectivity, it forces you to notice the subtleties and nuances you otherwise might miss when simply watching a game for fun. Now, being a catcher, I had a very different perspective of the game simply because of the position I played. However, scouting gave me another viewpoint to explore the game.  And one of the characteristics I look for in a potential player is "it".

If I am being honest, I too struggle to come up with an accurate description of what "it" actually entails. But I will tell you what you have probably heard from anybody who has ever referred to this mystical quality - I know it when I see it.

What I truly believe "it" represents is a player with extreme confidence and complete accountability. It's a player who knows that they have put in the work to demonstrate a confidence with everything that they do on a field. You never see this player hesitate. You never see this player question themselves in the middle of a game. You never see this player not take responsibility for their play on the field and their work off of it. When a player has confidence during every possible situation that might arise during a game, they stand out.

I was recently assigned a game up here in the Northeast. It was between two New England colleges and both of the catchers from each school were on my short list. One of the catchers immediately stood out. Sure, he was more polished than the other, and he was significantly more athletic, but what lead to me texting our area scout "Love this kid....he's a ball player" was that he did everything with such confidence and took charge of the field.

He bounced a ball to 2B on one of his throws and it slipped past his SS. After which, he walked out in front of home plate with his head high, patted his chest and told his teammates, "that one's on me guys". He was fully accountable for everything he did on the field. The other catcher? He argued balls and strikes, hung his head after an error, and I swear I saw this kid pout like a 4-year old after a perceived missed call by an umpire. I couldn't cross his name off my list fast enough.

Catcher's be accountable. With your practice. With your work in the gym. With your attitude on the field. That accountability alone won't get you where you want to be, but I can assure you that a lack of "it" may very well be the reason why you don't.