There is a famous line from the great New York Yankee player, Joe Dimaggio, to the effect, “You never know when someone may be seeing me play for the first time” when he was asked why he played hard all the time. What a great philosophy and so important when a player is trying out for a baseball team.
With the abundance and competitiveness of baseball traveling teams in this day and age, trying to impress the coach and make a team requires more than just displaying baseball skills. Often, the best players from a large area are all competing for the same spots on these travel teams, as well as on the larger high school teams. When a coach is seeing a player for the first time, the player must do all he can to stand out, even beyond displaying good baseball skills.
Of all the sports, trying to impress the coach and make the team may be the toughest in baseball. Just the very nature of the game makes it difficult to be “on” all the time, or at the right time. Hitting, pitching and fielding slumps come and go, even for the best of players. On the other hand, I can recall many instances of players performing very well at baseball tryouts and still did not make the team. Sometimes coaches have their mind set on who is going to make the team even before tryouts begin, and do not have an open mind going into the tryouts, but that is a story for another day.
Of course, the number one thing players should do is physically and mentally prepare for tryouts so they have no regrets if they do not make the team. There are many things that baseball players can do, besides play well, in order to have a good showing at baseball tryouts to impress the coach.
Players who do the following have the best chance of impressing the coach and making the team. Players should:
1. Show up on time, help with gear or any necessary set-up if needed, and get familiar with the surroundings. Players may even want to go to the field a day or two before tryouts so they feel more comfortable with the field and surroundings.
2. Make and maintain eye contact with the coaches at introductions and during opening instructions.
3. Show enthusiasm at all times during tryouts.
4. Hustle and try not to be the last player to arrive at each station or position. Run to positions, run out all hit balls and hustle after missed balls.
5. Take warm-ups seriously – just the way a player plays catch, throws and warms up can impress the coach.
6. Try any suggestions coaches offer and definitely do not say that you have been told a different way to do something.
7. Not be afraid to ask questions if confused and it seems appropriate.
8. Be social and encouraging towards teammates and never laugh at or berate other players’ play. Coaches love to see players who may have leadership qualities and do not want to deal with players who may be a behavior problem.
9. Help pick up after stations and practice.
10. Not look bored and try to be busy or look busy, whenever possible.
11. Not get discouraged or look discouraged when things do not go the way they would like. Coaches generally recognize talent and understand that players are nervous, but they do not like to deal with players who get down on themselves too easily.
12. Display knowledge of game strategy, show a good eye at the plate, volunteer or be willing to play different positions if asked.
Of course, players have to be careful of trying to gain favor with the coach by going overboard (brown-nosing) to the point where other players get turned off by the player’s obvious actions. This is especially true as players reach the high school age when other players are adult enough to recognize such behavior. Finally, maintaining good grades in school is always important for school teams.