For those of you with kids heading to team tryouts over the next couple weeks, here are some great tips and position information from coaches Ron Maurer and Rich Graham of RBA South in Richmond, VA. They’ve both been excellent instructors with many years of baseball coaching success
BASEBALL TEAM TRYOUT TIPS from RBA SOUTH
1. Be on time: If you’re not 15 minutes early, you’re 15 minutes late!
2. First impressions are everything: Dress in a full uniform. Cleats, socks, baseball pants, belt, uniform top, and baseball cap and maintain a sharp appearance.
3. Come prepared for anything: (Under Shirt, glove, bat, cup, tennis shoes, catching equipment and gym clothes in case of inclement weather).
4. Introduce yourself: If you have never met the Coach before, make sure to go out of your way to say hello and shake his hand. This will show the coach you are a mature young man with a professional attitude and strong self confidence. The type of confidence needed to lead a team, or get a game winning hit.
5. Always on stage: During warm ups, make sure you look like an athlete, take each exercise serious, don’t talk with other players, even if they try to talk to you. Coaches are judging you from the second they see you. Don’t think they are waiting for your bull pen or batting practice session to make a decision.
6. Warm up seriously: When the time comes to start warming up your arm, choose your throwing partner wisely. Do not choose someone who looks like they will have a hard time catching the ball, because he will likely make you look bad. Do not choose a friend who will not take the warm up seriously. If the coach sees you or your partner chasing the ball across the field, it will look bad for the both of you.
7. Don’t be a warm up hero: Warming up is NOT the time to show off your arm. Coaches are looking for a player’s ability to play CATCH! Save your arm for the defensive part of the tryout, or your bull pen if you’re a pitcher. Take care of your arm in tryouts and beyond!
8. Bring it in hard: After the throwing warm up the coach will likely call players to “bring it in.” Do not sprint full speed stopping an inch from his face. This is “false hustle” and is obnoxious. Do not walk either. On a faster than average jog, make sure you are one of the firsts to take a knee in front of the coach.
9. Eyes on the prize: Any time the coach is speaking, keep your eyes locked on his. Always show the utmost attention. Do not be distracted by other players. You are there for one reason: to impress the coach enough to make the team.
10. Stay moving: When it is time for defensive drills, take a deep breath and hustle out to your position. Jump three times up into the air to release some tension and keep your feet moving. Look excited, look ready and look like defense is your favorite part of the game. Always be ready and willing to showcase your talents.
11. Fake it until you make it (VERY IMPORTANT!!): If you hate defense, it doesn’t matter. “Fake it until you make it” is a great quote that means, try hard to look like you are completely comfortable on a baseball field even if you are not. Look like a baseball player!
12. Hustle around the field: When it’s time to hit, hustle in from your position, grab your bat and helmet and line up ready to hit. Try to take some swings off a tee or even just take some imaginary swings before it is your turn to hit for the coach.
13. Time the pitcher: Time your load and swing behind the cage while others are hitting. Each batting practice pitcher will have a different delivery and speed to their pitches. Notice the BP pitchers arm slot. Is it over the top or more side arm? This type of mental preparation will give you an advantage over the player who jumps into the cage blindly without any clue how the pitcher is throwing. Actions like this leave a good impression on the coach.
14. Establish a cage presence: How you enter the cage will tell the coach a lot about our confidence as a hitter. Enter the cage with your shoulders back and your chin up. Dig into the box with a sense of cockiness and overall self confidence that coaches love.
15. Make some noise: Hit the ball hard. Make some “noise” up at the plate. Don’t worry about where the ball is being hit, and don’t try to hit home runs. Show the coach that you have the ability to hit the ball hard, no matter where the pitcher throws it.
16. Scare the coach: Mix in at least one or two balls that hit the L-Screen so hard that you scare the batting practice pitcher. When he thinks back to your round, he will remember getting the life scared out of him when you hit the ball back at the screen in front of him.
17. Pep in your step: No matter how your round goes, hop out of the cage with a little pep in your step. Show the coach this isn’t the last round of BP you’ll ever take in your life. Whether it was good or bad, don’t get rattled or down. Display the ability to stay focused even after a rough round.
18. Keep your head up: (players strike out sometimes in their first at bat of the game, if the player puts his head between his legs and sulks it will bring the moral of the team down) coaches need players that can rebound from failure and keep the team spirits up.
19. Stay focused: When you’re not the one in the spotlight, always talk your teammates up and congratulate others. This shows that you’re focused even when it isn’t your turn. It’s also being a good partner, which is what coaches look for.
20. Establish mound presence: Pitchers, coaches are looking for command of your pitches and confidence on the mound. Don’t worry if you get off to a bad start, the coach wants you to display the ability to recognize why you are making a mistake and make an adjustment to correct it. It’s better to throw consistent strikes, than fling the ball your hardest with no control.
21. Keep the ball down: You can never go wrong by keeping the ball down, even if you miss your location. Don’t change your mechanics for any of your pitches. Your fastball should look like your change up and vice versa. Be smooth and relaxed.
22. Willing to learn: If you don’t have a change up, or if you have one but it’s terrible, simply explain to the coach. “I don’t have that pitch, but I’d be happy to learn and give it a try.”
23. Be coachable: Coaches are not looking for all star players. Yes, all stars are fun to have. However, so are players with the ability to get better. It is more satisfying for a coach to find a player he knows has athletic ability and the burning desire to become a better ball player, and turn him into an All Star. That’s why they are “coaches” in the first place. Also, if any coach gives you advice, always take it thankfully and do your best to apply it. Coaches hate to hear the words, “my pitching/batting coach told me not to do that.” This is being “uncoachable” and always puts a bad taste in the coach’s mouth.
The reality is that it’s tough to make a team when there are many players of different ages and ability levels. Not making a sports team is not fun. Even at the middle school level, there are only so many spots on each team. Not being selected to the team doesn’t mean you are not a talented ballplayer, it can mean a hundred different things. Coaches are put under a lot of pressure to choose the best players that will help the team. My advice to a player who doesn’t make the team and loves the game is to work hard and never give up. Michael Jordan didn’t make his varsity basketball team. Imagine if he had given up?!
Catcher– Needs to be a very loud and aware. A “take charge” guy. Might possibly be the smartest and most baseball knowledgeable player on your team. You can’t have a slow catcher, he must be agile and quick. If not, sooner or later it will come back to haunt you.
1st baseman– Also can’t be very slow or it will hurt you. He must be able to cover some ground. More infield errors occur from bad throws than missed balls!
2nd baseman– Quick hands and quick feet. Doesn’t have to be very big. He needs to be able to make contact at the plate, especially if he is small and doesn’t bring too much pop with the bat.
3rd baseman– Strong arm. Doesn’t have to be the quickest, but should be able to cover the line. Your shortstop will cover to his left if he can’t reach it. The older the player, the more he is looked at as a power guy.
Shortstop– The leader of your infield and very quick and hopefully, fast. If he can’t cover the whole left side of the infield, than he should be a 2nd baseman. Should be very athletic and maybe your lead-off or #2 hitter.
Left Fielder– Should be able to charge. He needs to play deeper than most of your outfielders due to so many right-handed pull hitters. Doesn’t need the best arm but couldn’t hurt.
Center Fielder– Good to great arm, should be one of the best and quickest athletes on your team. If he can’t cover much ground, don’t pick him or put him in left or right if he has a superior arm. He gives the corner outfielders confidence. Remember…the game is won “up the middle!”
Right Fielder– Big arm, needs to make the longest throws on the field. Again, the older the player, the more he is expected to hit for power. Doesn’t need great speed, covers limited amount of ground.