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Tips for Baseball Tryouts: What Coaches Are Really Looking For

Baseball Brains is a group of players, coaches, and athletic trainers who help others in our field become more successful and knowledgeable.

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Baseball Tryouts Are Here!

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 there's 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 evaluated thousands of players along the way, even at the varsity high school level where there are a few unique considerations for trying out.

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.

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 they're about to get it all going and then have to scramble to catch up with everybody. Get to the tryout 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. Backward 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 your indoor 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.

Tryout Day

Tryout Day

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 Mike Trout in center field. Just play your game, and let the game come to you. In other words, don't try to overplay 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 overplay 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 a while 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.

3. Have a Good Attitude

This covers a few things that 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 he's 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, make 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.

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!

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 of weeks before so that you feel more comfortable and ready to play.

© 2012 baseballbrains

Leave comments or ask questions!

Ethan Yelverton on September 09, 2020:

(I am a freshman)

So I just had off season tryouts and I did not make the team also I haven't played ball since like 5th grade. It would be very beneficial if someone could help me make sense of what all the numbers mean and how I can improve my skills. Here is a link to what my scores looked like:

MAUREEN on February 04, 2020:

my grandson has played ball since he was 7 still plays with travel team , he is a freshman at a very large school in the fall he was one of 5 freshman who made the team, just had tryouts he didn't make the team. he is very bummed out not sure what advise to give him , his dad felt he had a good tryout.

Abbyz on December 02, 2019:

Hi. I am a sophomore in highschool and well I am a girl. I played baseball from the teeball days until about 5th grade when I switched over to softball. I then played travel softball even playing last year at school. I have always looked back wishing I stayed with baseball because I noticed people dont have the same passion in softball. I am thinking of trying out for my school's boys baseball team but I worry 1. I will get bullied and 2. I am not nearly as good because I have only played softball not baseball in 6 years. Any advice?

baseballbrains (author) on November 01, 2019:

Thanks for reading, if possible you can send me an email and I'll be happy to help if I can!

Want to do tryouts on October 27, 2019:

Do you know a website or team I could do tryouts for I am ten years old and it has been a while since I have thrown a baseball also I have not done a tryout before

Rhay Kepler on June 11, 2019:

Nice write...

b-ball boy= Dane on April 07, 2019:

great tips this is my first tryouts

Bobby on March 14, 2019:

This is my sons first High School tryout. (freshman)

Some very helpful tips

Meira on March 02, 2019:

I like base ball

baseballbrains (author) on November 04, 2018:

Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed the article!

Layne from Boca Raton & Miami Florida on November 04, 2018:

Fantastic Article - More then just baseball, it should be read a few times a years to keep you or anyone on the right track!

baseballbrains (author) on October 09, 2018:

Hi Jayrick!

You're never too old to play baseball, there are many adult leagues throughout the country that would be happy to have you come try out!

Jayrick garcia on October 08, 2018:

Can i play a baseball sir? But my ages now is 34.i came from philippines.

Mason on February 26, 2018:

This helped me a lot because today is out first practice and so i'm really scared. This helped a lot more then I thought I could.

Davis on August 29, 2017:

This is my first tryout and i haven't played since i was 12, so i don't exactly have baseball gear that currently works well, my bad is little league and so's my glove, so ig ill leave those home? and Ill take my dads glove. I do have sweatpants so ig thats what ill take? anyway this stuff is gr8 and i hope i can make good sue of it today

Drew dock on July 25, 2017:

Thanks I wanted to know how to practice but this is good because I got down graded from left to right

Dr Brad Kayden from Atlanta, GA / Chicago, IL on March 08, 2017:

Evergreen article with great advice! Great for all levels of competitive baseball play.

All Hustle Baseball on December 31, 2016:

I actually wrote quite a bit on this myself. I am currently in college and what I wrote is for those who are trying to get a scholarship but it all starts with the tryout to get on a good travel/ rec ball team. At a young age though, the most important thing which is highlighted in your article is to have fun. If you're not having fun, you simply aren't playing the game for the right reasons and that won't take you very far. Never forget you're playing a game, not interviewing for a job..... yet (hopefully you get there).

Here is the link if you'd like to read it.

Jonathan on September 18, 2016:

Awesome i made my A team becasue of this

baseballbrains (author) on August 02, 2015:

Thanks Jered, that's awesome that you made the A team! Keep working hard and let us know if you need any help with anything. Chef, confidence is where it's at! Being positive and having confidence in yourself are two of the most important things you can do on the field, and at tryouts. Thanks for reading!

Chef478 on August 02, 2015:

Thanks a lot you gave me the confidence I needed

Jered on May 29, 2015:

This is a great page. I made the A team because of this.


baseballbrains (author) on May 17, 2015:

Thanks for reading!

brady macintire on May 17, 2015:

this is a great page

baseballbrains (author) on September 10, 2014:

Thanks! I think the humility aspect of what you're taking about it very important. Even kids that are really good, surely good enough to make the team, do themselves a disservice by acting like they're a step above. It's awesome when a kid is confident, but it surely is not awesome when a kid is cocky. Stay consistent, work hard, and let your game speak for itself as far as being better than everybody else there.

Dan Reed on February 27, 2012:

Very good advice. Especially the good attitude and not overplaying. As a coach, I need to see how you play comfortably and do not tolerate players who seem to think they are above the team. Voted up and useful.