We get it, every athlete dreams of scoring the game-winning goal for their school’s varsity team, but, unfortunately, it just doesn’t happen, especially for the majority of the younger competitors out there. Of course, many of these athletes take it as a slight against their effort and skill, but as somebody that has gone through missing out on varsity teams their entire life, I can honestly tell you that junior varsity is actually a pretty wonderful opportunity. If you’re down about your junior varsity position, consider these potential merits and make the most out of your situation!
1. Become A Leader
When young athletes are immediately thrust into the spotlight of varsity at an early age, they’ll likely be pushed to the background in terms of voice and stature in the locker room. All the older, higher level teams will undoubtedly have a tough hierarchy to break into, so your only job will be to perform on the field. But being on junior varsity will typically allow for you to undertake the position of leader, a crucially underrated role on each and every team. This role will help you grow as a person, learn about the responsibilities of management, and shape an entire team. Then, once you get your due on varsity, you’ll be a natural born leader, more confident in your skills, and ready to help your new team in many ways.
2. Develop Your Skills
Since the junior varsity team is typically used as place to develop player’s skills, strategies, and knowledge, it’s the perfect place for somebody to try out new techniques or learn how certain nuances of the game work. The varsity level can be demanding and unfair, particularly to younger athletes. And, if they get much playing time at all, a single mistake or giveaway can lead to a quick substitution and return to the bench. The junior varsity squad will offer more freedom to try a new flick, spin, or swing — without any repercussions.
3. Feel Less Pressure
For student-athletes trying to not only progress in competition, but also in the classroom, junior varsity can provide the perfect amount of physical demand without getting in the way of your other responsibilities. For varsity teams, you’ll likely practice every day, including Saturday. The pressure to perform in front of a crowd, in the papers, and in the standings can get overwhelming, so a season on junior varsity can help quell those nerves without taking up your entire life. So, if you’ve got a lot going on academically or within other clubs, junior varsity can often be a blessing in disguise.
4. You’ve Got Time
For younger athletes, there’s often no reason to worry about their varsity dreams slipping away after just a year or two, often for issues out of their control. Perhaps the varsity team is bringing back mostly seniors, or their best players occupy your position. So, don’t worry, don’t fret — just practice your craft, learn the game, and grow as an athlete. You time in the sun will come soon enough, so be sure to enjoy the less pressure, more free merits of junior varsity before it’s too late.
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I do agree with all of what was said, however When a kid is told/promised a varsity spot at the end of a season then put back to JV what a let down and the Parents are the ones stuck picking up the peices!
I love this article! I wish more parents and coaches would understand the importance of JV and stop treating JV as if it’s where all the “bad players” go. Even in the ski industry, being on a Devo team is not considered bad, since it’s where athletes can develop their skills until they feel ready to compete at a higher level.
What is driving me nuts about this year in my high school son’s lacrosse team, is that they have sorted freshman with zero rhyme or reason, and most of them ended up on the varsity, instead of the JV team. Those players consistently only play games with the JV and not with the Varsity, yet they NEVER practice with the JV team. This doesn’t seem standard to play players down.
It seems that best coaching practice would put most of the freshman players on the JV team (or freshman team if you have one), and then play up as needed. Using this approach allows coaches to see the way they play in games, what their skills and game IQ is like.
During most of the practices, those particular younger Varsity players don’t even get much in the way of practice, because they are sidelined, so they then become the weak links when they play on JV. Our JV hasn’t won a single game all season, which is not a surprise, but a little frustrating to the JV players that practice so hard all week.
Needless to say, our team validates all the points this article has made. The younger players on JV are definitely having a lot more fun that the ones put on Varsity. I am totally happy with my son being on JV, and so is he. He’s having fun, even though they haven’t won a single game. His confidence has grown, he is trying new skills without any repercussions, and he is getting a lot of play time. The JV teams also play earlier, usually when the weather is much nicer. What’s not to love? There’s also a lot less pressure and a lot more fun to be had. I figure he’s got 3 more years to play, so why worry about it?