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For the experienced baseball player, a player who was on the team last year or played on the J.V. squad, a high school tryout can be nerve racking, but for the player which this is the first experience attending a tryout, it can be terrifying. Let’s reduce some of the fear.
The first question to answer is “What is causing the fear?” Whether it be trying out for the chess team or the baseball team, nobody intentionally puts themselves into a situation where you can be laughed at or ridiculed for lack of talent. Therefore, without being smug, you believe you have the talent to play on the high school team. Don’t get wrong, there’s always the self-doubt all athletes experience, but that’s normal.
Fear of the unknown is main culprit creating the problem, so let’s shed some light on what to expect, how to prepare and a few tips which will attract a coach’s attention.
1. Be prepared for the challenge. As soon as you decide to attend the tryouts, whether it’s 6 months prior or 1 week, begin preparing your body for baseball activity. You notice I stress baseball. Doesn’t matter if you’re just finishing playing basketball or wrestling, although in excellent physical condition, the muscles must be prepared for different actions.
To briefly demonstrate, a wrestler has been training with weights and physical activities which produce muscle, muscle which is designed to grasp, exert maximum strength and provide short explosive reactions.
A baseball player requires elongated muscles for fluid and extended running, arms and shoulders move differently throwing a baseball in comparison to holding a head lock.
The key is to utilize a stretching program which will transform the bulk muscle mass into elongated, yet very powerful muscle. One must remember, building bigger muscle mass, actually tears it, but stretching keeps the muscle from tearing.
Begin throwing, slowly and at short distances, until you can safely expose the arm to long toss and throwing hard. A sure fired bet to not make the team is to show a rocket for an arm the first practice, catching everyone’s’ attention, then short arm weak throws the next day because the arm is sore.
Once you’re physically ready, it’s time to become mentally ready.
2. Unless you’re from a small school and have an automatic spot on the team because there’s only 12 players trying out, you’ll be facing competition numbering between 30 to 100, a daunting site which will make your stomach queasy.
Here’s the key to handling this problem… Every one of them are scared and filled with doubt too. Most people have great difficulty publicly speaking to a large audience mostly due to feelings of inadequacy, they feel the people in the crowd are smarter, or whatever.
A college professor of mine taught me a little trick I’ll pass along to you. Visualize every person in the crowd stripped down to their underwear, which will make them appear silly and less daunting, making you superior to them. Visualize the other players wearing silly hats or anything else which your mind sees as inferior. That’ll pop the bubble that every one is better than you.
Now we’re physically and mentally prepared. Let’s go to tryout.
There is no 1 method or system tryouts are held as it’s at the discretion of the coach, but most are basically the same.
1. Players will be divided into positions infield, outfield, catchers and pitchers, whichever the player deems he is. Infielders will go to their chosen position to field ground balls. *** Just in case… if you consider yourself a second baseman, but there are 12 players trying out for second base and only 2 for third base, go to third. Sure the positions are different, but only in the details. The basics are the same, requiring catching and throwing. You can learn the finer details after you make the team.
2. Outfielders can be expected to initially perform a lot of running, especially sprints, because there is no substitute for speed. The fastest runners will have a first day advantage, but it normally becomes the deciding factor when two players are equally talented in all other aspects of the game. Then you will field fly balls.
3. Pitchers will be required to throw fastballs only. They may ask what other pitches you’re capable of throwing, but will not allow you to demonstrate at this early stage. The coach is mainly focused on proper execution of mechanics and velocity of the ball. Some pitchers throw light balls, others heavy balls, which is all factored in.
4. The catchers will alternate catching the pitchers as they throw, and will be graded on target, softness of hands when catching the ball and the apparent ease and comfort they demonstrate behind the plate.
*** Always bring your own equipment, at least a mask and mitt. I know of no school which has 20 catchers masks and mitts available at any one time.
Hitting will be reserved until the second or third day after the numbers have been reduced. The initial tryout will mainly be based on defensive skills and speed.
There you have it. Nothing to be afraid of. Just take a deep breath and go out and do your best. Good luck.