Didn’t Make the All-Star Team? So What?

By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck

Our local Little League has established a new tradition in the years since I served on its Board of Directors. At the beginning of June, lawns signs appear throughout the neighborhood honoring players who have been selected to this year’s all-star team. I’m sure it’s exciting for the kids who were chosen. But I feel badly for the ones who didn’t get a sign.

Whether it was baseball or rec soccer, my kids all made all-star teams when they were younger. In Little League I coached a tournament team for eight straight years. I had a big part in the league’s restructuring of its voting methods so as to make the selections more democratic and transparent. It was always tough choosing the final three or four players because you hated to see anyone be disappointed, but once the rosters were finalized we moved on and didn’t think much about those left off.

So maybe I’m getting soft with age, or maybe it’s because as my children got older some of them did experience major disappointments in their athletic careers, but whatever the reason, it makes me sad to think of a boy or girl who was hoping to get one of those signs and didn’t. Who has to see it on a friend’s yard every day for the next few weeks.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling for the abolishment of all-stars. I recently read an article on a popular youth sports-related website basically shaming leagues for picking some children for all-stars and leaving others off. The author suggested that everyone who wants to play should be allowed and that they should create as many teams as necessary to accommodate them all. Then it wouldn’t be all-stars, would it?

Instead, here is the message that I would like to convey: If you didn’t make it at age 10, you can make it at 11. If you didn’t make it as an 11 year-old , you might at 12. And if you didn’t make it at 12, guess what? I’ve seen dozens of kids who were the best players in the league at 12 but who, by the time they were 16, had been passed up by others who were not as talented a few years earlier.

Turn this disappointment into motivation. Make it your mission to improve so much that they have to pick you next year. Or the year after. Don’t give up. Be determined to make believers of the doubters.

Often in youth sports its a lot about size. Kids who are shaving at age 12 have a huge advantage over youngsters years away from puberty. Some 12 and 13 year-olds are fully grown. Others won’t grow until high school. But if you’re a late-bloomer even that can work to your advantage. Many big, strong, full-grown pre-teens don’t work hard because they can have success without effort. This is one of the reasons so many of them are overtaken later.

Or maybe you are of average or even above-average size but your skills need improvement. Either way if you really want to be good at something you can be. You just need to practice. And this is true for anything, not only sports.

So if you’re truly disappointed about not making the team this year I do feel badly about it. But not too badly, because from my new perspective I realize you have the power to do something about it. Understand that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes a kick in pants is a step forward. Use this to light a fire and start working harder than anyone else. Just wait and see where you are next year, the year after and the year after. And, if you aren’t willing to pay the price – to do what is necessary to become the best you can be, then I guess you weren’t really that upset about not getting a sign after all.

Brian Gotta is a former youth baseball coach and volunteer Little League board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels and a baseball coaching book which can be found at www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at brian@coachdeck.com

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