Not Selected For All-Stars…Now What?
Not Selected For All-Stars…Now What?
By Jeff Ritter
Last June a dad whose son I’d coached a few years prior reached out to me for advice about All-Stars. He was pretty upset over the selection process. He said that his son had a great season and was one of the best players on his team, but did not get selected for his All-Star team. He wasn’t sure why and hadn’t yet told his son because he was dreading the tough conversation.
My heart went out to the dad and the son. Being a part of a league’s All-Star team is a great experience. Most of us want to say our player is an All-Star, but not every good player makes the cut.
So what can you do to prepare for and navigate your way through All-Stars? And what happens if you and your player are faced with disappointing news?
I’ve been a nervous dad, an assistant coach and a manager of my league’s All-Star team. So I’ve experienced the process from all sides and think it may be helpful to start by shedding some light on the selection process.
In our league, there’s no limit to the number of players a coach can nominate. Some coaches nominate very few, while others nominate half their roster. If you think your player deserves a nomination, it won’t hurt for you to talk to the coach at the end of the season and ask for his consideration. Sometimes coaches are familiar with All-Stars, including the selection process and the level of competition required. Others aren’t. Remember, rec coaches are volunteer dads who may or may not have had any prior experience with All-Stars. So it’s okay to respectfully advocate for your player . . . (emphasis on respectfully!)
Usually, the All-Star team manager (selected by the board) and all the coaches from the league meet to nominate and trade insights about players. Coaches focus on stats, positions, improvement, work ethic and attitude. A player’s dedication and willingness to be at practices and games is often discussed. Sometimes even the cooperative nature of their parents comes up. (Ahem.)
In our league, after each coach nominates and provides highlights about their players a secret ballot vote takes place. Each coach is allowed to vote for 9 players only. The 9 players with the most votes make the team. The All-Star manager then has the option to add players as he sees fit. There may be a limit to the number of players he can carry. Generally, a maximum of 12 or 13 make the team.
UPPING YOUR CHANCES
For the most part, not too many surprises occur during the voting process. That’s because coaches are already pretty familiar with the top players in the league. Whether it’s from previous All-Star teams, local travel teams or the league’s own competitive teams, the coaches know who plays at a competitive level.
Most All-Star managers want players with competitive tournament experience. And the reason might surprise you. It’s not that players with competitive experience are always better than players who only play rec ball. But, they should be better prepared mentally for the competitive nature of All-Stars. I’ve seen good ballplayers make their All-Star teams without having competitive experience, and under the pressure of All-Stars they don’t always perform their best.
When it comes down to it, if your player is not on the radar of the dozen or so coaches in his league he may not get the votes he needs—no matter how great of a season he had. It’s not so much who you know that counts, but who knows your player. Look at it this way . . . if a manager has a choice between a player (and family) he knows and can feel confident in his abilities, attitude and commitment vs. an unknown player with a similar skill set he will most likely choose the known over the unknown.
KEEPING IT ALL IN PERSPECTIVE
If your player doesn’t make the team this year, it’s important to keep some perspective. As I told the dad of my former player last year, youth All-Stars is not the end-all-be-all. My high school coach would often say, “Everything is still possible.” There’s time.
Be sure to tell your player what a fantastic year he had and point out all his accomplishments. Then if he wants to work toward making the team next year, encourage him to get more experience. Look into camps, private lessons and programs like travel ball that fit with you and your player’s comfort level to help him gain the skills, mentality and exposure he needs.
Whether we like to admit it or not, youth baseball is getting more competitive at an earlier age. I believe that to be true of all youth sports. Just be sure to also keep it fun. We want to develop ballplayers, not burn our kids out at a young age.
My former player spent last year playing for a travel ball team and has gained a lot of valuable baseball experience. Will he make his rec All-Star team this year? We will have to find out. According to his dad, he is LOVING baseball, so I say All-Stars or not, that is what really counts.
Jeff Ritter is the Owner/Operator of TheRustyArm.com and SignACoach.com. Jeff is a former Division I baseball player, part-time baseball coach and full-time dad of a youth baseball player. Follow his journey through youth baseball at www.therustyarm.com.