It is fall and high schools are back. Many aspiring young athletes, however, are already thinking ahead to one thing next spring: baseball tryouts.
Unfortunately, making the school baseball team is no easy task and tryouts are a nerve-racking experience for most. There is only a limited number of spots available, so what can you do you make sure that you are noticed by the coach and secure a spot on the team?
To make it onto the high school baseball team, you have got to have great baseball skills. You also need a great attitude, a huge passion for the sport, and a can-do approach. You need to prove that you are an asset to the school’s baseball team. With only a few minutes before the coach ultimately makes up his mind about you, first impressions are everything.
So, here is a complete guide on how to make the high school baseball team and become that high school star you have always dreamed of being.
Practice Your Baseball Skills
Of course, the number one thing that a coach will be looking for at baseball tryouts is your baseball skills.
The offseason is the ideal time to practice your play and get in the base physical shape you possibly can. Most US high schools will hold their baseball tryouts in March which gives you nearly six months from now to up your skills. Don’t solely focus on baseball skills, but also work towards becoming more athletic to give you an all-round improvement in performance.
Here are some of the skills that you should be working on and perfecting during the offseason. These are the essential things the coaches are looking for at tryouts and are skills that all great baseball players have. Make sure you have got each one down.
Being able to swing a bat well is obviously an essential baseball skill so practice working towards that perfect swing. You want to focus on hitting the most technically correct position and getting as much power behind your swing as possible.
Here are our top tips for improving your baseball hitting to wow your coach:
- Placement of Your Feet: Ensure your front leg is stiff and your back foot is on its toe. When you swing, this position means a strong force is generated forward and you can start the rotation, to give maximum bat speed.
- Position of Your Hands: Your back hand should be palm up and your front hand palm down. This gives the maximum force behind your hit.
- Position of Your Arms: Work towards getting your back arm bent at 90-degrees and tucked into your ribs for the maximum leverage.
- Eyes on the Ball: It is an obvious one but having your eyes on the ball is key to a good swing. In fact, 81% of pro baseball players have visual acuity of 20/15 which highlights how essential seeing is to playing baseball. Ensure that when hitting, you can always see the ball with both eyes.
On top of these universal pointers, it is important you understand your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to hitting. If you are strong but slow, focus on driving the ball far and getting as much height and power behind it as possible. If you are quicker on your feet but not as physically strong you should hit on a line.
Play to your strengths and this will highlight to the coach both your personal skills and your knowledge of the game.
Pitching is another basic yet essential baseball skill. By the time you reach high school, you should be able to pitch a ball at around 60mph! This requires a lot of arm strength, so work on building up that muscle so you can get as much power behind your throws as possible. Don’t forget about your legs either though as good stability will get you far.
Alongside velocity, accuracy is key. Basic throwing concepts can make all the difference between a throw on target and one that is miles out of range. Make sure you are using a four-seam grip and your elbow stays above the shoulder so that the ball travels straight. You also want your feet pointing in the direction you want the ball to travel and be positioned in a wide stance. These techniques are something that your coach will be looking for at tryouts.
To help you perfect your throw, here is one of our favorite accuracy drills you can use so that your throw is on target every time:
- Mark a target with paint or tape, or work with a partner who will be your target
- Stand 20 feet from the target and throw the ball at the target
- Every time you hit it, you get a point. Build the distance between yourself and the target so that you can eventually throw accurate shots from further away
Yes, we all dream of being a hitter or a pitcher, but fielding is important in baseball and usually where skills are lacking at a high school level. Practice your footwork to play at least one position effectively. However, if you really want to show off to the coach, learn multiple positions. This will make you versatile and will give you a better chance of making the team.
Catching is another lost skill at the high school level. Practice at catching the baseball because if you can successfully catch a ball time after time, you will be a team member that the coach wants and needs.
Get the Right Attitude
Having the correct attitude at tryouts is central in securing a place on the baseball team. In fact, your attitude will be the first thing the coach notices about you when you enter the room. This is what they will form a first opinion from before they have even seen you play.
But what exactly is the “right attitude” that coaches are looking for?
1. Friendly Team Players
Firstly, you want to be friendly and personable. After all, baseball is a team sport. The coach will want to know that there are not going to be any issues between you and other teammates that could affect the team’s performance in the season. Get good grades and show him you’re a good kid that is worth his time.
2. Confident Players
As well as coming across as a good Baseball team player, you need to be confident in your ability to play baseball well. After all your offseason practice, you probably deserve to feel confident.
When players make mistakes is when a coach can truly see how confident they are. If you handle a mistake well and ask for another shot to prove yourself, coaches see that you have a strong belief in your abilities. Sulk, strop, or look embarrassed and it highlights to the coach that you are not as confident in your play as you are pretending to be.
3. Players That Are Eager to Learn
You also need to be eager to learn. If you already think you know all there is to know about baseball, the coach won’t want you.
Think this seems like a contradiction? It isn’t!
Coaches are there to teach you and help you become a better baseball player. If you already think you know everything, you are going to resist a lot of their advice and will be a difficult player to improve. Someone with a similar skill level as you but who is eager to learn and take constructive criticism will be favored by the coach.
4. No Suck-Ups
What this doesn’t mean is to be a suck-up. Play well and work hard and your coach will reward you for your top performance, without the need to be their best friend. Find the perfect balance and you can almost guarantee yourself a spot on the team.
Come Dressed the Part
Now you have the baseball skills and the correct attitude to bring with you to tryouts, it is time for the main event. Nothing turns a coach off like coming unprepared, so make sure you look the part. What you look like will also have an impact on the coach’s valuable first impression.
Looking the part is also great for players who aren’t as experienced. Walk in the room looking like a pro baseball player and your coach might not even notice the difference.
Here are some do’s and don’ts for what to wear to your baseball tryouts:
- DO wear a clean pair of baseball pants. If you don’t have these, gym shorts or sweatpants also work, but baseball pants are best and look most professional.
- DON’T wear jeans or big baggy shorts. This looks unprofessional and like you have just walked in from the library or another team’s tryouts.
- DO wear your cap on forwards. A cap is not essential, but if you do have a baseball cap on then make sure it is facing the right way. If you wear it backward or sideways you might as well turn around and walk straight back out the door.
- DON’T forget your batting gloves or your pitcher glove. You want to look like you belong on the field, and forgetting these key pieces of kit on day one does not put you in a good position.
Arrive Early to Tryouts
On top of looking like you already belong on the team, always show up to tryouts a little early. This looks great from the coach’s perspective as you seem keen and eager to get stuck in and show him what you have got.
This is also great for you! Arriving at tryouts early gives you time to relax before the tryouts properly start.
I suggest heading to tryouts 10 minutes early with a friend so that you are not in a rush or queuing up to sign in. You can then take some time to warm up and play catch to get into the right frame of mind. Have some time by yourself too to clear your head before you get stuck in.
It might be difficult when there is a lot of pressure and tensions are running high, but make sure you enjoy your baseball tryouts!
Motivation is actually key to a team being successful. If the coach can see you are enjoying yourself, this means you are more likely to remain motivated throughout the year and always work your hardest. They want to see that you love baseball just as much as they do.
Baseball tryouts are a nerve-racking experience but try to push past this anxiety and make the most of the experience. Here are some of our top tips for tackling nerves at tryouts:
- Go to tryouts with friends: Having a friend with you can make the whole experience more enjoyable and offer you support when you’re feeling nervous.
- Simply play your best: Try to forget about how you think you should be playing, and just play your best. Less pressure on yourself will actually result in better play!
- Learn to take a time out: If you’re getting stressed and overwhelmed, take a breather. This does not mean you can give up or walk out midway through an activity, but when you have a moment to breathe take this opportunity to disengage from the situation and relax.
Follow this advice and you will be in for a good chance at making the high school baseball team. So remember:
- Practice your baseball skills throughout the offseason
- Come with the correct attitude
- Arrive slightly early and come dressed the part
- Have fun!
No matter what happens at your baseball tryouts, remember that the world is not over if you don’t make the team. This just gives you time to learn more, get better, and try again next year. Going into baseball tryouts with this mindset will also only help you play better and improve your chances.
All I have left to say is good luck!