Tips for Baseball Tryouts—What Coaches Are Really Looking For
Every year when baseball season is coming up, it means tryouts are about to get underway for players across the country. Tryouts are always a little daunting for most players. They haven't played since last summer, they're going to be under the microscope, and theres often pressure to make a certain team or look good in front of peers and evaluators.
I've coached and been around every side of baseball for many years, and I've been the evaluator at a lot of these tryouts.
Below are a few tips that will take some of the nerves out of the experience and help you perform to the best of your ability.
Don't fear baseball tryouts. Look at them as the beginning of a new season! A chance to get back out there, knock the rust off, and take your first step toward an awesome year of baseball. Easy to say I know, keep reading to find out exactly what the coaches are looking for at tryouts, and what you can do to make a good first impression.
Tip #1 Look the Part
Tryouts are here, the first few things you need to do have very little to do with baseball. First impressions (this applies even if you've met these people before, this is a new year) are very important. Look like a ballplayer.
First and foremost, show up a little early. Don't get there right as their about to get it all going and then have to scramble to catch up with everybody. Get there with plenty of time to sign in, take a little jog, play light catch with a partner, and loosen up on your own a little bit.
Second, look like you're a baseball player. Don't show up to tryouts wearing jeans or giant basketball shorts. The perfect thing to wear is a clean pair of baseball pants, a nice light athletic shirt, and a good hat that's on forwards. Backwards or sideways and you may as well just stay home, baseball coaches hate that. Sweatpants work too, just know where you're doing the tryouts and dress the best for the location. If you're indoors shorts are probably not too bad, but I'd still recommend baseball pants. Obviously cleats for outside and good shoes for inside, and don't forget your glove and batting gloves.
You need to walk in and look like a player, whether or not you have a ton of experience. Coaches will look more favorably on you if you look like you belong right from the start.
How many baseball tryouts have you been to before?
Tip #2 Play the Way YOU Play
Don't come to tryouts and try to play "up" for the coaches or do your best imitation of Jacoby Ellsbury in center field. Just play your game, and let the game come to you. In other words, don't try to over play the tryout. Just wait for your opportunity to come to you, and then confidently perform your task the best you can.
Nerves or anxiety can make players try too hard, or swing too hard, or throw the ball too hard. That's never good. You'll make more mistakes if you over play the game. Simply relax and focus on your moment, then attack it with enthusiasm the best way you can. Coaches know you haven't played baseball in awhile so they aren't expecting miracles. They also know you could be a little tight or nervous so they aren't looking for perfection. They're looking for composed and focused players who are confident in their game.
Tip #3 Have a Good Attitude
This covers a few things and they are probably more important than just playing well.
- Be coachable. Make eye contact with the coaches when they're talking, act interested in what they're saying, and do your best to follow any and all advice they give you. Ask questions if you have them, and never try to correct a coach or tell him that the way you do something is better than the way hes having you do it. Often times a coach will tell you to do something or ask you a question just to see how well you listen and follow direction, so pay attention and listen to them well.
- Be positive and confident. Don't sulk around if you make a mistake or roll your eyes when the coach tells you to run a conditioning drill. If a ball goes between your legs, step up and tell the coach to hit another one. If I could boil it all down to one single quality that I look for in a player, it's confidence. Don't be timid or shy and don't let an error ruin the rest of the drill. Forget about it, focus on the next one, and play with confidence. The way you respond to a mistake could show your character far more than the way you act when everything is perfect, making a good impression.
- Lastly, be a good teammate. Please don't read that as "be social." Tryouts are not the time for laughing and goofing around with your friends. You're there to do your job and focus on baseball, so do that. However, do be a good teammate. Give encouragement to your friends or group mates if they mess up, communicate well in group drills, and try your best to help them succeed as well. If you're doing one hop drills with a partner, give them good hops that they can field well. Coaches will see you being a good teammate, and it matters. A lot.
Tip #4 Have Fun
It sounds like cliché advice, but this is actually more important than you might think. Coaches want to see that you like the game and want to be there. They want to see that you're having fun playing baseball.
If you're having fun and enjoying the game, you're more likely to dedicate yourself to working hard and being the best you can be. Coaches love to see players who enjoy the game as much as they do, and if you're having fun out there, everybody else will have more fun as well.
Drop the pressure that you may be placing on yourself and just play the best you can. Coaches will recognize your talent, even if you're not playing at quite the level you were hoping for. Play the best you can, and enjoy every second of it. Plus, having fun is just more...fun!
Get the right gear!
Here are some great pants for youth players, and they have a double knee which will last a long time!
Tip #5: Be Prepared
Even if you only have time to play catch three or four times before the tryout, do it. It's amazing how just getting the glove out of the bag and throwing the ball around a little bit will knock some of the rust off and make you feel more confident going in.
If you've been to the tryouts before and know some of the things they'll be doing, it's a good idea to practice those things a few times as well. If you don't have a partner, find a wall to bounce some balls off of and field them. Practice getting leads, good jumps, anything you can do that you think you might see at the tryout.
Make sure your cleats fit, your pants are clean, and your arm is going to be able to handle a few throws! Remember that the coaches will be able to tell pretty early on if you're a ballplayer or not, there's no pressure on you to do everything perfectly. It's still good to loosen up for a couple weeks before so that you feel more comfortable and ready to play.