At the end of every High School year in the USA, thousands of kids from all over the country ask how they can continue their favorite sport after school professionally, or rather how they can start living their dream of becoming a successful and professional baseball player.
The good news is that one does not need any formal education for becoming a professional baseball player. Furthermore, professional players do not need any credentials beyond their high school. Baseball is one of the primary and popular sports in the USA. As such, most kids start playing and practicing from a young age, some as young as 4 years.
Image: Mike McKee
The advantages of starting out early cannot be understated
The sooner you start, the sooner you can learn the rules of the game as well as its techniques. Once a child in school, he or she can try for the school’s baseball team or even the region’s little league team. Junior leagues are important as they teach kids the invaluable skills they shall need down the years. This includes pitching, catching, and batting.
Most kids choose which position they want to focus down the line, the most popular being the position of the pitcher and the position of the catcher. We shall come to this later! In high school, players who are serious about becoming professionals strive to get into the high school team.
These are important for the continued development of essential skills. At this point, students are expected to demonstrate not just the basic knowledge and practice of baseball, but also the advanced tactics such as strategizing for stealing bases.
But what happens after one has passed out of high school? How can one still continue playing baseball professionally? How can one get recruited into higher league teams?
There are two ways of getting exposure to the world of professional baseball. One way to do this is through Major League Baseball franchise at secondary school programs. Major League teams normally scan schools for the best talent, so there is a good chance you will come across one such program in your location.
Getting into a major league team is not easy, but neither is it impossible. You will need to show above average physical traits such as fitness, skills, and stamina. If the selectors see fit, you will get into a Major League team!
In case you don’t make it, don’t fret. Seriously. Stop fretting. You can still get a chance by playing baseball in college teams. The greatest advantage of playing in collegiate teams is that you will get a lot of opportunities for getting professional level training. You also get a good chance of exposure.
Players who start playing in collegiate teams are taken in by minor league teams, who are after talented players. This is a great step towards your professional career. Once in a minor league team, you can always work towards the major leagues after a few years of experience.
Now that you know what to do when you have passed out of school, how do you prepare for the tough road ahead? What are the skills you need?
Baseball is not a sport where you get to show off your skills at the detriment of your team’s performance. In any league match, all the players play seamlessly according to pre-decided strategies and according to the way the match is going.
They are expected to have a high level of fitness at all times, just like they are expected to give their best and perform well at all matches. Therefore, one needs good to exceptional hand-eye coordination. One needs to have a fast reaction time because often one second is all it takes to miss a catch and getting a batsman out.
Secondly, you need to be a good sprinter, because you need to move from one base to another before a fielder gets you out!
Thirdly, you need professional level skills in batting, fielding, catching, and fielding.
Which positions are the best and why?
There are 2 positions in baseball, which are easier to learn the skills of. These are the positions’ of Pitcher and Catcher. Of course, you need to practice a lot. You will need to show a ton of dedication to becoming a catcher going to a professional level.
Pitching is very popular, and it is not hard to see why. The main game centers on the pitcher and the batsman. The pitcher, together with the Keeper, can get a batsman out. The more skillful a Pitcher is, the better his or her career record shall be.
In order to train to become a professional pitcher, ensure that you have exceptional arm and throwing strength. Practice by playing long tosses. Develop your core muscles, because the energy for throwing the ball should come from your core, not directly from your hand.
Another reason these two positions are popular is because every team wants Pitchers and Catchers. Therefore, if all goes well, you have a good chance of getting into a professional baseball league team.
Having skills is not everything
You need to have a strict work ethic. One may get the best coach in the business, but beyond everything, your work ethic shall be the difference-maker in your performance.