Baseball Brains is a group of players, coaches, and athletic trainers who help others in our field become more successful and knowledgeable.
Think You're Ready for Varsity Baseball?
Making the varsity high school team can be very challenging. It is made even more difficult if the high school you're attending has a solid baseball program.
Coaches tend to make up their minds about players pretty quickly, but that doesn't mean you can't make the varsity team with some hard work!
The main job of a coach is to put a winning team on the field. In the end, it's your job as a player to make him think you're a piece of the puzzle that will make that happen.
Read on for more helpful tips!
Learn About the Baseball Program
The first thing that is extremely important is that you know how the system works at your high school. Do freshmen ever get picked for the varsity team? Does the whole program work out together most of the time or do they split the younger and older guys right away? Is the head coach a pitching guy, defense guy, or hitting guy?
These things matter for a few good reasons.
First, you'll be able to set some realistic goals. For example, if you're a freshman and your program never has freshmen on the varsity team, then you know you essentially have an extra year to prepare yourself to make the varsity team.
Knowing what your head coach's passion is can help, because you know he'll be looking for that in all his players. It's not always easy to know this, and some coaches don't have a strong preference for one discipline over another.
Most of them do, however, so if you know what it is from the beginning, it can certainly help you prioritize your goals.
I'll talk a little more about head coaches later on, but the message here is to find out as much about the program as you can. Even if you're in the program, you may not have paid much attention to how it really works, so spend some time doing so and maybe even jot down a few notes about it. This can really help you be a good member of the program and increase your chances of making the varsity team.
Have a Good Attitude
First of all, the coaches should like being around you and think you'll be a good influence on the team. After all, these guys end up spending a big chunk of their lives with you, and they want that to be as pleasant as possible.
The more important reason they want to like your attitude is because they want you to learn the things they're teaching. If you come across as resistant to their coaching or to their advice in general, they'll see that as a lot of extra work to get you where they want you to be. If you happen to have similar talent as somebody else, but they have an enthusiastic, positive attitude and you don't, you may lose the battle.
This doesn't mean that you have to be good friends with the coach, or that you try too hard to seem like you want to work for them. Coaches want you to be natural and fun to be around; they don't want you to constantly suck up to them for playing time.
Work hard, and then work a little harder. If you make a mistake on the field, get back in there and try it again. If you're consistently making mistakes at something, ask for help on it.
Coaches want you to work your butt off all the time. If they see you investing the time and effort into getting better at the game, they will be more likely to invest time and effort into you.
Asking questions is a good thing, but it never replaces hard work.
Coaches will know if you are asking them how to hit better because you've been working your booty off at it and you're not quite able to figure it out, or if you just want to make it seem like you're interested.
Somehow, we coaches see everything. We know if you're working hard or not, we know if you've spent extra time in the cages or not, if you've done those extra sprints or not, and we can tell if you're devoted to being as good as you can be, or not.
Be One of the Few
Here's some good news for you; if you truly dedicate yourself to baseball and to working extremely hard at the game, you'll stand out to the coaches. Whether or not you are a great player right now, the coaches want to see that you might become one.
They have confidence in their coaching ability to make you better at baseball, but they can't teach desire or drive. The players that supply ample amounts of those things are few and far between in a lot of programs, so if you go out there to light the field on fire, you'll stand out in a good way.
Be Versatile and Open Minded
If you really want to be on the varsity team, you might have to have some skills at more than one position. Don't lock yourself into just one spot. This can stall your ascent to varsity faster than you might think.
If your varsity team already has a good shortstop and the coaches think of you as only a shortstop, they won't look your way very often when they're looking for good talent.
Just as you can get bottled up behind a good player at one position, there might be a weakness somewhere else. Go take reps in the outfield, get good at reading fly balls and use that to your advantage.
You want to get in the door to the varsity squad, whether that means you get there at your favorite position or not shouldn't matter. Just get there, and then worry about impressing the coaches at multiple positions.
Hit, Hit, and Then Hit Some More!
There are two things that thread across all other factors on a baseball field. One is if you're an ace starting pitcher, and the second is if you can hit.
Almost all programs, especially with the new bats that don't hit the ball as well, value hitting very highly. What this means for you is that if you are one of the top nine or ten hitters in the program, they'll probably find a spot for you on the varsity field.
Hitting the ball hard and consistently is critical for a team's success. Hitting with real power is pretty rare in high school, so if you can get stronger and increase your bat speed that will be a huge advantage. There isn't anything more important at the plate than hitting the ball on the barrel frequently.
Hitting doesn't just mean doubles. It also means you can hit balls to the opposite field with 2 strikes; you can bunt, and you can contribute at the plate no matter the situation. There's nothing more frustrating to a coach than being in a bunt situation and knowing there's no way the guy at the plate can get it done.
So all of this amounts to being good with the bat and having good plate discipline. These things take a lot of reps to get good at, so take them. If your coaches see that you're better at the plate at these facets of hitting than your competition, you'll have a big advantage.
Speed is hard to teach, but it isn't impossible to learn. If you have a sprinting coach in your area or can research the things that go into being fast, spend some time learning it. Then go out and work hard at becoming as fast as you can be.
It's always a threat that coaches love to have when a guy is blazing fast on the base paths or can run out an infield single. Speed may be the best asset a team can have when it comes to momentum generating plays, and putting a lot of pressure on the defense.
Any investment you make in your speed will be worth it, even if you only cut a little time off.
Know What Works
Okay, back to knowing what the coach wants. Some coaches are weights instructors; they will want you strong. Some coaches are former pitchers; they will want your throwing habits to be rock solid. These things can really help you set your priorities when you put together a plan to make varsity. Put the things that are important to your coach at the top of the list.
Also, look at other players that are successful in the program and see what they do and what they're good at. You may be able to set yourself some goals that will give you some tools that you already know work in the program.
A lot of this advice may make it sound like you need to change yourself into what the coach wants, or what somebody else is doing in order to make the varsity team. The honest truth is that we want players that are individuals, and that are confident and happy with who they are on the field.
The advice that I've given you in this article is to help you gain the tools that will help you be the best you can be. Don't lose yourself in the quest for a spot on varsity, and don't imitate other people to get there either. High School baseball is a blast, and you shouldn't take away the fun by worrying all the time if you're doing everything you can to make varsity.
Set some goals, set up a good plan, and then have fun playing baseball and trying to reach those new heights. While you should never be content with where you are in sports, it's vitally important to enjoy where you are; never forget that!
Reach out for Help
If you need help or have questions, please use the comment section below. Thanks for reading and best of luck to you in baseball!
© 2014 baseballbrains
Hunter stewart on May 12, 2020:
Im a upcoming senior havent played high school ball before but do have baseball experience im a strong hitter and fielder but not fast what should i do
Xavier on September 22, 2019:
I'm a freshman in high school and with just that don't have much chance of playing on the varsity team but I also am a little rusty what do you think I should do?
baseballbrains (author) on July 11, 2019:
If there's anyway to get with the coach for a workout before tryouts, that might be a great thing to do. Sometimes coaches are available to hit or throw with you a little bit, and then he would be able to give you an idea about what your chances would be. Generally speaking, a little training would help a lot before tryouts, and if it's something you want to do then learn as much as you can and get out there! The worst that could happen is that you don't make the team, but you may very much enjoy the experience of trying out anyway. Thanks for reading, good luck!
Fernando Bethancourt on July 09, 2019:
Well I am going to be a senior in highschool and I want to join the baseball team but the thing is I’ve really never played before or anything like that but varsity is my only option since I am going to be a senior and I don’t know how low or high my chances are at making the team tryouts are in a month..
Hunter Endicott on May 05, 2019:
What is the best Avenue to getting on a high school baseball team city pony league or travel ball. Whi h is the best for improving skills
baseballbrains (author) on September 25, 2018:
Thanks for the comment Meshack.
We're entering the perfect time of year to train those things that might be holding you back. Depending on what roadblocks you're facing, perhaps there's a good hitting instructor nearby? Or a field where you can get some extra reps? Start a new speed/strength program from November-February to come into the new high school season with more athleticism? Always see the "off-season" as your best possible opportunity to eliminate weaknesses.
If you would like to chat you can send me an email (see profile), would be happy to help with anything specific, perhaps even look at a video of your swing/pitch and offer my thoughts.
Max Kingsley on October 10, 2017:
Thanks this reallly helped
Dude really on August 10, 2017:
Bro how stupid are you. Theres now way u could join his team
tyler henckel on August 06, 2017:
did you get my taxet
Tyler Henckel on August 05, 2017:
I want to play baseball with you and try out and be second base. I also interested in pitching. I will give it everything I have to succeed