The first Friday in March was always better than any holiday. In New Jersey, the first Friday in March marks the first day of high school baseball practice. Depending on your grade and level played at last year, there are numerous emotions. The varsity player from last year is excited to get back and chomping at the bit the top last season. The Sophomore who played Freshmen ball last year is hoping to prove himself to make it to the Varsity level and the freshman is hoping to make the team. Excitement and nerves will be felt by most players as they go into tryouts. Today I wanted to offer some tips for the players who are hoping to make the team or make it to the next level. Often times High school tryouts last for only 2-3 days so these tips can go a long way in making an impression on a High School Coach.
It sounds obvious, but hustling is something that most players don't do. Make it known to the coaches that you want to be there and are passionate about making the team. One of the quickest ways to get a coach down on you is to lack hustle, get easily upset, throw equipment, etc. Handle practice like a professional.
2. Take the right approach in batting practice
Depending on the number of players on the team and the number of tryout days, a hitter may only have the ability to take a limited number of swings under the watch of the coaching staff. There should be only one thought in the mind of the hitter: Get the right pitch. If it is a regular BP round, look for a no strike pitch. All of the mechanical adjustments in the world can't do much if pitch selections is poor. In fact, some of the best rounds of BP often come not as a result of significant mechanical changes, but from better pitch selection. Give yourself the best oppritunity to drive the ball by getting a pitch that will allow you to do that.
3. Prepare your body
To put yourself in the best position to play well, you have to get your body ready. Sleep and diet are the top 2 things that you can do in the upcoming week.
Sleep- Get a good night sleep starting tonight, not just the night before tryouts. You don't want to be fatigued going into the first day of practice. If your team has an AM practice, get your body used to the earlier wake up time by going to bed earlier and waking up at the early time a few days before the first practice. (I'm not a big fan of 5:30 am practice, but many schools have them and if your coach wants to have them you have no choice.)
Nutrition- Eat well and drink lots of fluids. Many schools have conditioning as a major part of tryouts to see who has been working in the off-season. Even if you have worked your butt off, poor nutrition and hydration can make it appear as though you haven't. Wake up and drink a glass of water, have breakfast, make sure that you are fueling your body so that you can be at your best.
4. Relax and Control only what you can conrol
Remember, baseball is a game of failure. Chances are, you will take at least one bad swing in BP, miss a ground ball or make an overthrow at some point during tryouts. It happens....to everyone. Forget about it and move on. Don't let a single mistake dictate the rest of the tryout.
When you are competing for a spot on the team, there will be competition. Don't worry about the other player you are competing with. If they do something spectacular, don't try and one up them and get outside of yourself. Control only what you have control over: yourself.
Tryouts can be both exciting and stressful. An off season worth of training often comes down to just a few days to impress a coach. Prepare the right way, stay within yourself and have fun!