A high school baseball tryout is an audition. In the future, you may want to audition for the college baseball team, or you may encounter a fellow college student auditioning to get into the music program. High school baseball tryouts have one main thing in common with any other audition: you are expected to be prepared and to do your best, regardless of whether you have a cold, or you didn’t sleep well the night before.
Baseball coaches are looking for two things at a high school baseball tryout: a reason to cut you or a reason to keep you. Coaches auditioning you at tryouts will have years of experience coaching high school baseball, and they tend to rely on first impressions. How you present yourself when you arrive is very important. Look your best and do your best.
We have put together here the best tryout tips to help you get on the high school baseball team. If you have talent and follow these tips honestly, and don’t cut corners or make excuses, you stand an excellent chance making it on the team.
Your Mindset at the Baseball Tryouts
Check out this advice given to a Mother who was concerned about her son’s upcoming team tryout:
“I think the best advice I could give you is to simply do your best to not have expectations. If you can set yourself up to just go with the flow, you may find the whole process a little bit easier.”
What are your first impressions of this advice? Is it good advice? Is it bad advice? If it’s bad, why?
There is some truth to the idea of “not having expectations.” Worrying about making the grade and getting on the team may cause stress that will show on your face and in your body language and can cause you to make mistakes when showing coaches what you can do.
The truth is, the advice has good points and also bad points. Here are the good points:
- Do your best not to have expectations. Don’t stress over making the team. It will cause you to make mistakes you wouldn’t otherwise make.
- If you don’t have expectations, you may find the whole process a little bit easier. This is also a true statement. Don’t expect the result you want if obtaining the result is out of your hands. Isn’t that true? If you expect a house to be built by the first day of June, and that’s your goal set in stone, but other people are building the house, can you realistically expect the house to be built by then?
On the other hand, if you were personally building the house, you could set a realistic goal based on your own ability to finish building the house by a set date.
Here’s the bad advice from the above quote:
Set yourself up to go with the flow.
If you and 9 other young men are in a rope pulling contest against another 10 men, you have to pull as hard as you can, regardless of how hard the other 10 men are pulling on your side. Your team could win the rope pull, and it would be unclear why you won to any of the others, but the reason could possibly have something to do with how hard you yourself pulled the rope.
In a tryout, you do not want to go with the flow. The best way to approach a baseball tryout, or really any situation where you will be observed and evaluated will come out best with the right mindset.
- Don’t have any expectation that you will make the team. Remember this before the tryout.
- There is no way that you can force the baseball coach to make a decision. Sometimes, even when you give what you believe is your best effort, the coach makes his decisions based on his own formula.
- Not making the team does not mean you are a bad baseball player. Many players who went on to the majors and had incredible careers flunked at getting on the high school baseball team.
- Have a calm, relaxed frame of mind. It may sound like “new age” advice, but, after you have practiced hard and prepared for your high school baseball tryouts, find a quiet place and sit for 15 minutes. Close your eyes and try to clear your mind. Think about… nothing. Try to get to a place and meditate. Do it until you see nothing but a blank slate with nothing written on it, nor are there any images on it. It’s a big space of nothingness.
- Make sure to sleep at least 8 hours before your tryouts. You’ll be better able to show off your skills if your body has gotten the rest it needs. When you have rested for 8 hours, you can challenge your body and your mind to do more, your reflexes will be sharper, you endurance will be greater, and your speed will be faster.
Having said all this about the proper mindset, the most important thing to do is something your fellow players or other coaches you have known will not tell you: Do not think about what you are doing. You already know what to do.
It may sound nonsensical, even a little crazy, but not thinking about what you are doing makes what you are doing easier.
Imagine a tightrope walker who is tethered high up on a rope that’s linked to two buildings a half mile apart. Is he taking every step and reminding himself not to slip, or to take the step a certain way? No, he isn’t. If he did, he may panic, and his feet may lose their grip and then the next day there would be a story about a tragic death.
A 45-minute long piano sonata is made up of over 25,000 individual notes and has three movements. It also has dramatic pauses, sweeping crescendos and periods of intense calm. All of these changes are in the performer’s mind. However, he doesn’t think about any of it when he is on the stage. Fingers running over the keys, his mind is clear and he feels the music.
Just like the performer, you have practiced for months and months on your position, and have applied yourself diligently to practicing drills. These have prepared you for your tryout-audition. Though is seems to be worlds apart from the concert pianist or the tightrope walker, the most important thing all three have in common is they are all being judged and evaluated.
What you might be expected to do at the tryout
We’ve compiled a list of what you can expect when you go to your high school baseball tryouts. Knowing these could help your prepare both your body and your mind.
95% of all tryouts are structured like this.
The purpose of the warmup is to get you loose and relaxed, get the blood flowing and break a sweat.
60 Yard dash
The next thing you will be asked to do is a 60 yard dash. You will need to train for this. You can really stand out at the beginning of the tryout if the coach notices your superior athleticism. And there’s nothing more important than making a great first impression.
Next, you’ll be told to play catch with another player. This is your chance to get your arm loose, and ready for the challenges ahead.
Strength of Throwing Arm and Defense Tests
- Catchers trying out will go behind home plate and will be throwing to second base. They may make you block a few baseballs beind the plate.
- Infielders will be sent out to the shortstop position and will be hit ground balls. You will be tested for your glove skills, so expect to get some tough grounders that bounce to you and other hits that will go to the left and right of where you are situated. They’ll be checking to see the speed of the ball as it goes from your hand to first base. Also, the accuracy of your throw will be evaluated.
- Outfielders can expect to be hit or thrown a series of ground balls and pop flies. They will all likely be placed in right field, although this may differ due to the layout of your high school’s baseball diamond. From right field, you’re going to be asked to make the long throw to third base. Just as with infielders, they will be clocking the velocity of your throw from right field to third. Coaches will also be checking your crow hop motion, so be sure to make the jump as effective as possible to get power behind your throw.
- Batting Practice: Coaches may or may not have curves or changeups pitched to you. Usually it’s straight fastballs or a mix of fastballs and curveballs. This is your chance to show what you have. Again, stay relaxed and don’t’ force yourself to hit the ball hard, because doing that will likely backfire on you.
- Scrimmage: It doesn’t always happen due to time limitations, but some baseball tryouts will involve you playing a position and hitting in a simulated baseball game.
Show up prepared
Running and sprinting: go beyond what you’ll be asked to do at the tryout. If you are going to run a 60-yeard dash, then do running beforehand and do the 100 yard dash over and over. On the day of tryouts, the 60-yard dash will be easy by comparison. The coach may notice the ease that you showed running, and you’ll have more energy in reserve for the rest of the tryout.
Hanging out with friends: in the two weeks before tryouts, your mental focus should be entirely on the tryouts and making the team. Hanging out keeps your muscles relaxed, and you should be spending this time going above and beyond what you’ll be required to do. You need to run, sprint, lift weights, and perform drills every day as often as you can during this critical period before tryout day.
Run through your mind the plays you make in our position. If you’re a catcher, visualize blocking a ground ball, throwing to second to get a runner out, running after a bunt. Once you can see in your mind what you are going to be asked to do, and combining the mental and physical aspects (doing drills, conditioning your body) performing at the tryouts will be much easier.
Look the part
You must look the part when you arrive at the park for tryouts. If you stand out because you’re wearing sneakers instead of baseball cleats, or you’re not wearing a baseball cap you will stand out and be noticed, but not in a good way.
- Baseball cap
- Baseball pants.
If you were going to a job interview in an office tower, you wouldn’t wear jeans, or not wearing a tie, or wearing sneakers with your suit. In baseball, your baseball uniform is your business suit. Make sure it’s clean and you look well put together. Why treat high school baseball tryouts with any less importance that a job interview in real life?
Coaches don’t like to see prospective players just standing around. Move your feet, move side to side, show some energy and it will definitely be noticed by the coach.
When you’re constantly moving, you’re conveying the attitude of a prospect who has something to prove and who is willing to earn it. Impressions go a lot further than one thinks. If you go to get hamburgers and all the workers at one restaurant are talking and not paying attention to you, what impression have they left with you when you walk out with your food? Will you want to go there again?
It is the same when a coach is eyeing his prospects. Imagine he sees all the players that tried out in a line against a fence. Some are talking and joking to each other, another one is sitting down on the curb playing with his phone, and even others are looking off in the distance as if they’re not even there.
But there is one player by himself, moving around, with a focused look on his face. He seems full of energy and seems to be excited. The coach looks at him and may think that he’s a person who will follow direction and will try hard to be better if he’s lacking in some skill.
Give Every Test 200%
In the 60-yard Dash, run as hard as you can. Sleeping 8 hours the night before, and having been doing nothing but preparing for tryouts the last 2 weeks to a month, will help you go harder than other players who are there. This is another way to stand out.
Swing hard and throw hard. If you are not great at throwing accurately, but you throw the ball hard from the right field to third base, these finer points can be corrected. A player who throws hard can be taught to be more accurate.
If you swing hard when you bat, and you square up to the ball with every swing, smaller details like swinging mechanics can be corrected. The important thing is that you put power into your swing, something not all players can do.
Body language and a positive attitude communicate more than anything else. Often, coaches will pick players who need work on the basics of hitting and fielding because his body language communicated that he wanted to be there and is willing to be coached.
On the other hand, a player with above average skills but who is distant and doesn’t listen very well will be passed up because his body language and attitude communicated his lack of interest. This type of player would not be as easy to coach.
Who makes a better impression?
- Player 1 is standing with his arms crossed over is chest while the coach is talking to him, not making eye contact. He looks down to the side, but never at the coach.
- Player 2 is looking right at the coach, his body is moving with kinetic energy and his face is animated. He nods or shakes his head as a way of responding to what the coach is saying.
The impression you make through your body language and attitude goes a very, very long way towards getting on the team.
Get ready for the Tryout
In the two to three week period before your high school tryouts, you should be practicing drills as much as you can. Even if you’re sick and tired of drills, keep doing them.
Overcompensate. If you are a shortstop, perform drills where you go from your ready position to running to second. Go to the high school gym and do leg presses for your running speed and bench press for your throwing speed. Work on your throwing accuracy.
Infielders can work at home with a pitch back net. Even repeating the action of pitching against the wall and fielding a rubber ball, something you have done so often that you can field with your eyes closed, remember that the more you do it, the better your tryout will go for you.
Drills and repetition. Drills and repetition. It can’t be emphasized enough that repetitions are the key to perfecting skills.
Attitude and Focus
It has been mentioned before here, but it can’t be stressed enough the importance of having a great attitude. Chances are that when you arrive, many players will be busy talking with friends, goofing off in one way or another. You will stand out if you stand on your own, listen to everything the coach is saying.
Baseball tryouts are under two hours long. It isn’t a great sacrifice to devote a couple of hours to get on the high school baseball team. Your purpose being at the tryout is to get on the team. Nothing else.
Lead by Example
During tryouts, there may be balls to pick up, or everyone needs to run on to the field, but they’re standing around. You want everyone out on the field now.
Run out to your position first, without ordering fellow players to go out their positions. The players will most likely follow your lead. Leading by example gives the coach the idea that you could lead the team during games. You earn respect by showing by example rather than yelling out orders. This is because you are not the leader now, and showing by example you are paving the way to take a leadership role later.