Beyond Athletics Recruiting Responsibility

How To Make The Team: Fail Better

play division i baseball by practicing hard even when no one is watching

Here’s an anecdote everyone heard at a company-wide meeting we had last week.

A young baseball player is in his backyard, practicing his batting. He shouts: “I’m the best batter in the world!” He throws the ball into the air, swings, and misses. “Strike one,” he says.

He says again: “I’m the best batter in the world!” Tosses the ball up. Swings. Misses. “Strike two.”

He takes a minute to collect himself. He repeats, “I am the best batter in the world,” gets set for the pitch, throws the ball up into the air, whiffs a third time.

He sets the bat down. He says: “I’m the best pitcher in the world!”

It’s an endearing story. We all giggled at the thought of this kid doing his hardest in his backyard — it’s a pretty quintessential story about playing sports in America, isn’t it? But it also has serious messages about how to make the team we can use in our recruiting journeys.

Change your perspective

It can be disappointing not to hear back from the coach you want to, or to realize that your measurables aren’t setting you up for the kind of success you wanted. Maybe your jump height isn’t qualifying you for the Division I volleyball team you wanted. Maybe your 400 time is getting you a lot of Division III attention, but you’re really interested in a Division II school with a great program in your major.

How can you shift your perspective to focus on what you’re best at? To work towards making it even better?

Be persistent

The kid in this joke stops after one strike out. But that’s not how baseball’s played. You have to get over the fear of failure and try again.

“Confidence cannot occur in the presence of fear. You see, what happens in a hitter’s mind after they have a string of no hits is they start imagining all of the bad stuff that follows when you stop getting hits. […] That tension is what destroys your swing and keeps you from hitting well and may turn into a full-blown slump.”

You didn’t hit your pace in the laps you were swimming? You have to try again. Missed a couple shots on the field? You’ve got to try again. You don’t need me to remind you about all the stories of pro athletes who got to their level by putting in extra time, taking extra shots, working on every fundamental they could.

Believe in yourself

What good comes from having a bad attitude? Do you really want to prove yourself right for all the times that you say that you can’t do something?

It’s not just your measurables that college coaches want to see. They want you to match their roster. They want to see your character. Your attitude. How you respond to failure by rising to the occasion and getting better.


You have the power to control your attitude and how you approach the game. But sometimes you need help with other things. Our scouts can help you identify areas where you can improve, and get the attention you want from coaches. The best way to get started is by building a recruiting profile.

Photo credit: (Flickr – Yi Chen)

About the author
Andy McKernan

Andy McKernan is the content strategist at NCSA Athletic Recruiting. A content marketer with a background in creative writing, Andy brings several years of experience to NCSA.