I was recently asked by a friend for some tips about how his sons should approach their upcoming Little League baseball tryouts. They wanted to know how to catch the coaches’ eye. The obvious answer is to play well. But there are a few things they should do to ensure an eye-catching performance.
- Understand that baseball tryouts are not social events. You are there to take someone’s job.
- Dress like a ballplayer. Wear baseball pants, cleats, and a hat. You will get major deductions if you show up in baggy jeans and the latest skater dude apparel. Wearing your hat backward or sideways is a major no.
- When you arrive, place your equipment away from everyone else’s. Run, preferably by yourself, to get warm. Stretch away from everyone else in the outfield. Coaches will notice that this is a serious, disciplined, knowledgeable ballplayer. Also, your equipment is less likely to grow legs.
- Throw sufficiently to be completely warm. There may be a lengthy wait while waiting to perform at your position. Be sure to keep throwing if necessary to stay loose and warm.
- Many think that hustling and trying to aggressively make plays is the way to impress coaches. Understand that it is early season and your game is not in midseason form. When it comes time to show your defensive skills you will be much better at taking it slow and smooth, focusing on proper mechanics. Get your feet under you and focus on making an accurate throw. The odds are, if you try too hard, rush it and throw it as hard as you can, you will boot it and throw it into the stands.
- When hitting, take a pitch to get a feel for the timing of the pitch. Be selective and only swing at pitches that you can expect to hit with a high degree of success. Here again, it is the early season so your stroke is not in midseason form. Don’t overswing, but just swing smoothly and try to hit line drives and hard ground balls. I once saw a kid hit four straight-line drives, turn to the coaches, and say, “it’s going to be a long day, do you want to see any more?” I drafted him!
- Daddies, stay away from the coaches. Lobbying will not help. There are two notations experienced coaches make. DIAs (Dad Is an Ass) are to be avoided. GLMs (Good Lucking Mom) are prized.
Good Luck. It’s going to be a great season!
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Bruce Lambin raised and coached two talented T-Ball players who became the best baseball players they could be. His oldest played at Texas while his youngest was the shortstop for Louisiana-Lafayette. Both later played with Team USA. Bruce has coached over 150 pro and college prospects (including six Major Leaguers) and continually shows a keen eye for many overlooked aspects of the game. Lambin is a CABA world champion baseball coach and he wrote a book, A Parent’s Guide to Baseball – Surviving and Thriving Youth League to College, that gives parents an inside look at baseball from youth league to college.