Sunday, August 15, 2010

Youth Baseball: Tryouts - Tips For Coaches, Clubs and Players (Part 3)

This summer, my son participated in three select baseball tryouts for the 2011 season. This post highlights what coaches should do and what they should not to do based on our experience.

Prior to tryouts
  • What to do: Coaches should make themselves available to talk prior to the tryouts via phone or email. This allowed me to gather the information we needed to make decisions on which opportunities to pursue. I got a good feel for the demeanor of the coach through these conversations. And the coach got a good idea of the potential and fit of the player.
  • What not to do: A few coaches did not return emails requesting information. We did not go to these tryouts.
  • What to do: Advertise your tryout schedule on the league website, team website, local newspapers and word of mouth. 
  • What to do: Schedule three or four tryouts dates. The team we eventually selected had four. After the first one, they invited back a select few to join new players who missed the first tryout date. Perhaps a coach can determine the skill level of a player after one tryout, but can they determine the level of  commitment, leadership or passion of a player after one tryout? I doubt it.
  • What not to do: A team my son tried out for only had one tryout date. Due to a conflict we were 30 minutes late. Summertime is hectic with lots of conflicts, a team can miss out on some really good talent by having a limited number of tryout dates. 
  • What to do: Allow a player to have a private tryout.
  • What to do: Allow for pre-registration via email or website.
  • What to do: Ask players to wear a numbered jersey so the coach can easily identify players during the tryout.
During Tryouts
  • What to do: Have a volunteer at the registration table to quickly process potential players. 
  • What not to do: Have the coach do the registration. This leads to delays of the tryout.
  • What to do: Have an evaluation spreadsheet on a clip board to capture information about each player.
  • What to do: Have all the potential players properly warm up their arms. 
  • What not to do: Allow potential players to throw full speed without warming up. I was at one tryout where each kid threw 15+ long throws from the outfield without a proper warmup period. Players want to impress and throw extra hard, make sure all the players are properly warmed up.
  • What to do: Evaluate all the potential players at every position. A prior coach may not have seen the potential in a player at a certain position. 
  • What not to do: Assume a player cannot play a certain position based on appearance. 
  • What to do: Give the kids enough pitches to get their timing down during batting practice. Evaluate the potential player's ability to hit pitches of varying locations and speeds.
  • What not to do: Evaluate a players ability to hit based on a limited number of pitches. During one tryout, my son got two rotations of three pitches. He saw a total of six fastball pitches. I am not sure how you can evaluate the true potential of a player on six pitches. 
  • What to do: Make the players you want feel welcome. One team was very interested in my son. I am not sure if the coach did this or the players did it on their own, but all of the current players made my son feel like he was a part of the team during the tryout. Your players can help you sell the program. Let your players know who you are targeting.
  • What not to do: Allow current players who are in jeopardy of losing their spot talk bad about the program. My son was taking outfield with one current bubble player who was disgruntled with the coach and the program. After the tryout, my son did not want to play for the team based solely on his conversation with this kid.
  • What to do: Evaluate all aspects of the game. Evaluate baserunning speed and technique, evaluate a player's ability to play all the infield positions, evaluate the player's ability to track a fly ball and to throw accurately from the outfield, evaluate a player's ability to hit various pitches to all fields, evaluate a player's ability to bunt, evaluate a player's ability to pitch and throw pickoffs, and evaluate some player's ability to play catcher (footwork, arm strength, blocking, etc.).
  • What to do: Keep players moving from station to station. Have four or five coaches keep the tryout moving efficiently.
After tryouts
  • What to do: Call or email each player. Put some thought into the rejection letters. 
  • What not to do: Fail to communicate a decision. Do not keep players in the dark. Coaches should let each player know as soon as possible so that the player can make other arrangements. 
  • What to do: Have current players text message the top recruits. Kids from one team sent my son numerous text messages. This made my son feel wanted.

The Main Point

The tryout process is part evaluation and part selling. Coaches need to attract talent to the tryouts, evaluate the talent properly and then convince the top recruits that their program is the best option for the player.


  1. That is crazy what experience do you have that is not a way to hold tryouts by making excuses for them. You want your child to be ready at all times and make best of every situation when they are present. That is how life is and that is how children learn to succeed. And not everyone is meant to play all bases or outfield positions. There are simple ways of holding a tryout and evaluating player. Yes your son may be good or even have potential. That will show up in any try out weather it is the first the second. Believe or not kids have to make thier own choices on if theg want to be out there it is not enough for parents to convience, pursue cause you want him out there or yku think is good. Not enough just to show up and and tryout. I will take any child who wants to play thier hardest and wanting to learn then some who is good but does really want to work hard or play. If you have any questions just email me at i will help you make the best or give you some good advice. I have been coaching for over 17 years from fastpitch softball to travel or club baseball. One tip on a good coach is that he or she should be able to demonstrate correct technic and not have to bring someone else in to bark orders and the kids and any respectable coach will not run a tryout them selfs. How are they going to be able to evaluate the kids fairly if they are engaged in drills.

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