Inside Pitch Magazine, July/August 2021

Last Inning: Player's Checklist to Improve Your Game

by Phil Fox

Phil Fox in a Sox uniform leaned up against chain link fence at the baseball fieldBeing a high school player and/or a college hopeful, use this checklist to help get you through a baseball season. Most of these things are important to the success of you and your team. How do these ideas and checklist pertain to you?

  1. Persistence is more important than talent.
  2. There is a reason that the word STUDENT comes first in student-athlete.
  3. Respect the game as much as you want to be respected.
  4. Tuck in your shirt.
  5. Do not wear your hat backwards.
  6. Practice hard because you play the way you practice.
  7. It does not take talent to hustle. 
  8. Be a student in baseball. Learn the game. Study the players of the game.
  9. Help your team win whether you play or not.
  10. Keep a daily diary of what you do at practice and keep notes of your observations. This will help you see the progress you have made.
  11. Never argue with an umpire.
  12. Submit to allowing your coach do his job with you.
  13. Do not cut classes.
  14. Maintain the grades that keep you eligible.
  15. Set high standards along with knowing the steps to attain them.
  16. Do not tell people what you are worth, prove it to them.
  17. Your girlfriend is not more important than your career choice.
  18. Your parents love you, but they do not know more than your coach about baseball.
  19. Do not let anyone make an excuse for you.
  20. Maintain eye contact with all adults when they talk to you. Practice on your friends.
  21. It is your coach’s opinion of you that counts. He makes out the lineup. Fail to understand this point and you will soon be out of the game.
  22. Life is not fair and neither is the game, regardless of what some people want to think.
  23. Be passionate about your teammates.
  24. Love the game!
  25. Players are not the only people in the game. There are coaches, trainers, announcers, umpires, broadcasters, and writers, all those jobs are important, not just you.
  26. The only thing that coaches owe you is HONESTY.
  27. Body language screams. It never whispers.
  28. Balance makes champions. If you focus on hitting and ignore the defensive part of your game you will never be a complete player.
  29. Be as diligent on defense as you are on offense.
  30. Defense wins more games than offense.
  31. Pitching sets the tone.
  32. Games are lost not won. Mistakes lead to losses.
  33. Well-developed pitching staffs win postseason tournaments.
  34. Work on your game every day of the year.
  35. Who you are today is a result of who you were in the past. Fill your ‘present’ with smart work and good deeds and you will maximize your potential.
  36. You do not have to be a great athlete to be a good baseball player.
  37. Show off your talent to your current coach and your future coach by doing the following: take pregame seriously, throw to a target anytime every time, take pride in catching/blocking the ball, attention to detail in practice, never walk onto the field, run hard on the bases, and know the game situation at all times.
  38. Baseball does not build character, it reveals it.
  39. Character means doing the right thing when nobody’s watching.
  40. Yes Sir, No Sir, attitude and respect for coaches and adults will go a long way.
  41. You have no weaknesses, just undeveloped skills.
  42. A positive attitude towards others and what you do go a long way.

Pick out as many of these that you can and see if they make a difference in how you approach the game. I believe they will!

Phil Fox has more than four decades of coaching experience, with stints at Downers Grove High School, Oregon High School, Aurora University and Harper College. He's served on the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association Board and is a 2008 inductee into the IHSBCA Hall of Fame.


Inside Pitch Magazine is published six times per year by the American Baseball Coaches Association, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt association founded in 1945. Copyright American Baseball Coaches Association. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without prior written permission. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, it is impossible to make such a guarantee. The opinions expressed herein are those of the writers.