- Baseball is much more than just swinging a bat. It’s about strategy, precision, agility, and resilience, all while keeping an eye on that ever-evolving age clock
- This is post is part of an nine-article series covering every aspect of a baseball tryout. If you arrived at this page via search, I highly recommend that you first read my post, Baseball Tryout – Complete Reference Guide
Content of this post
What to Bring
First and foremost: Show up looking like a baseball player. That means no untucked shirts, no sandles, no shorts. Double knot your cleats and wear a belt.
Arriving prepared with the necessary gear and ON TIME can help your child perform their best during a baseball tryout.
For tee-ball aged players, many leagues provide helmets and bats so your child only needs to bring a baseball glove.
For older kids, here are some essential items to bring:
- Paperwork: Double check to make sure that you have the necessary paperwork, such as registration forms, medical release forms, etc.
- Baseball Glove: A well-broken-in glove is a must. Players might consider bringing an additional glove if they’re trying out for multiple positions, such as a catcher’s mitt or first baseman’s glove.
- Cleats: Baseball cleats provide traction on the field and are necessary for safe play.
- Baseball Bat: If the player has a personal bat they’re comfortable with, they should bring it along. However, some tryouts may provide bats.
- Batting Gloves: These aren’t mandatory but can help improve grip and protect hands.
- Helmet: Some tryouts may provide helmets, but it might be more comfortable to use a personal one that fits well.
- Baseball Pants: It’s important to dress the part. Baseball pants will protect the player’s legs during slides or dives.
- Athletic Supporter and Cup: These are essential for male players to ensure safety during play.
- Water Bottle: Baseball tryouts can be physically demanding, and it’s crucial to stay hydrated. This is extra true for you catchers!
- Healthy Snacks: Depending on the length of the tryout, players might need a boost of energy. Consider packing easy-to-eat snacks like bananas, granola bars, or a PB&J sandwich.
- First Aid Kit: It’s always good to have basic first aid items like band-aids and athletic tape on hand.
- Equipment Bag: To carry all the equipment.
- Additional Layers or Change of Clothes: Weather can be unpredictable, and having extra layers or a change of clothes can help players stay comfortable.
- Sunglasses and Hat/Visor: These can be very helpful on sunny days to keep the glare out of the player’s eyes.
- Sunscreen: To protect from sunburn on sunny days.
Lastly, make sure your child looks like a ball player! That means a clean T-shirt, white baseball pants, plastic cleats (artificial turf) or metal cleats for older kids (playing on grass only).
Even if allowed, do not wear any type of jewelry, don’t chew seeds, and don’t chew tobacco. And for goodness sake tuck your jersey in!
Baseball Tryout Dates
Tryouts for baseball can vary widely depending on the league, region, and level of play.
For youth baseball leagues, the timing of tryouts can also vary widely based on the organization, location, and age level. Generally, these leagues operate in the spring and summer, so tryouts often occur in the late winter or early spring.
For example, many Little League organizations hold their tryouts in February or March to allow time for team assignments and practice before the season starts in April or May. Some travel or competitive leagues that play in tournaments throughout the summer and fall may hold tryouts in late spring or early summer.
In addition, some leagues may hold additional tryouts or player evaluations in the fall for fall ball leagues or to get an early start on team formation for the following spring. This is more common in competitive travel leagues than in recreational leagues.
High School Baseball
High school baseball teams typically hold their tryouts just prior to the start of the season, which varies depending on the region of the country.
In warmer climates where baseball can be played year-round, tryouts might happen as early as late January or early February. In colder climates where winter weather prevents outdoor play, tryouts may not occur until late March or early April.
The exact timing can depend on a variety of factors, including the school’s calendar, state athletic association guidelines, and local weather conditions.
Generally, recruited athletes for Division 1 (D1) baseball teams do not attend traditional tryouts. The recruitment process for D1 baseball, and college athletics in general, is quite extensive and typically begins years before a student-athlete would step foot on campus.
The process often involves college coaches scouting players at high school games, travel ball tournaments, and showcase events. In addition, players and their families often reach out to college coaches, sending them video highlights and athletic resumes. Coaches also observe athletes’ skills, evaluate their potential, and assess their fit for the team culture and academic standards of the school during unofficial or official campus visits.
Once a coach decides to offer a player a spot on the team, it is usually in the form of a verbal commitment initially. Later, it is formalized through the National Letter of Intent (NLI) signing process, where the athlete officially commits to attend the school and play for their team.
However, for non-recruited athletes, many schools do hold tryouts, often referred to as walk-on tryouts. These tryouts offer students already enrolled at the university a chance to earn a spot on the team. The specifics of this process can vary widely from school to school, and spots are often very limited.
The timing of walk-on tryouts for D1 through D3 college baseball programs usually occur in the early fall (September-October), shortly after the academic year begins. This allows coaching staff to evaluate potential additions to the team well ahead of the spring season when most collegiate baseball games are played.
Read more about the NCAA Baseball Recruiting Rules and Calendar here.
Minor league baseball doesn’t typically hold open tryouts. Players are usually scouted and drafted from high school or college teams.
However, when tryouts do occur, they can happen at various times throughout the year. Each team has its own schedule, so it’s best to check with the specific team or organization for exact dates.
With the dissolution of the Major League Scouting Bureau and an abundance of camps and showcases across the country, Major League Baseball teams have greatly reduced the number of professional tryouts they hold. As of 2023, only a few teams continue to host open tryouts, typically held during the summer.
Please note that these are general timelines and can vary depending on your geographical region. Always check with the specific league, school, or organization for their exact tryout dates.
Before stepping onto the field, your child needs to understand and grasp what coaches typically seek during these tryouts.
Yes, baseball prowess is vital, but the expectations often run deeper than just being able to pitch a fastball or hit a home run.
Coaches evaluate players based on age-appropriate skills and athleticism. For younger players, they look for basic understanding and execution of the sport – throwing, catching, batting, and base running.
As the age bracket goes higher, the expectations increase; a player’s ability to understand game tactics, perform under pressure, and their mastery over advanced skills like pitching different types of balls or strategic fielding come into the picture.
At what age should your child sign up for travel ball? The appropriate age to start travel baseball can vary greatly depending on the individual child and their unique circumstances. However, it's often suggested that players start considering travel ball around the ages of 8 and 9 because this when children typically begin to physically and emotionally develop to handle the increased demands of travel baseball. Unlike rec baseball, travel baseball include more intense competition, longer games, and significant travel time. Some towns are moving towards 7U as the starting point, but I personally think that is too early.
However, it’s not just the physical skills that count. Coaches also look for players with a good attitude and sportsmanship. How players interact with their peers, respond to coaching, and behave on and off the field speaks volumes about their character.
A player who displays enthusiasm, listens attentively, and shows respect to coaches, peers, and the game itself is likely to make a positive impression.
Remember, baseball is as much a team sport as it is an individual one; cooperation and a good attitude often matter as much as, if not more than, individual skill.
Baseball seems like a casual, easy sport to play in the eyes of untrained parents but it is a physically demanding sport that requires strength, agility, speed, and skill.
- Strength and endurance are vital for baseball. These traits not only enhance their performance but also protect them from injuries
- Start with age-appropriate exercises that focus on building their core, lower body, and upper body strength. Incorporate workouts such as push-ups, squats, lunges, and planks into their routine
- Exercises like farmer’s walks and medicine ball throws can improve grip strength, a crucial component for both batting and fielding.
- Developing and honing their baseball skills is a must. This includes batting, fielding, pitching, and base running
- Practice different batting stances and swings to discover what works best for them. Fielding drills should include both grounders and fly balls, while base running should focus on improving speed and understanding the tactics of stealing bases
- If your child wants to be a pitcher, work on pitch location for young players; for older players, focus on different types of pitches like fastballs, curveballs, and change-ups
- Improving stamina and overall fitness are critical to lasting throughout the game. Regular cardio exercises like running, cycling, or swimming can help build their endurance
- Equally important is the diet. Ensure that they are consuming balanced meals with enough proteins for muscle repair and growth, carbohydrates for energy, and fruits and vegetables for essential vitamins and minerals
- Don’t forget to remind them to hydrate and rest adequately, as these are vital for recovery and performance
Baseball is not just a game of physical skill; it’s a mental game as well. Your child’s ability to concentrate, make quick decisions, and handle pressure can significantly impact his or her performance.
Building a Routine
- Creating a pre-game and pre-tryout routine can help manage nerves and increase focus
- This routine can include visualizing successful plays, deep breathing exercises, or listening to motivational music. Find what helps them calm their mind and stick to it.
- Confidence is key in any sport. They can build it through regular practice, setting and achieving small goals, and positive self-talk
- Reinforce to your child that everyone makes mistakes. What matters is how quickly they can bounce back, learn from these errors, and improve
Understanding the Game
- Familiarize with the rules, strategies, and various positions in baseball
- The more you help them understand the game, the better their decisions on the field
- Read books, watch games, and discuss strategies with their coach or teammates to deepen their understanding. Your aim is to help your child to be one of the players with the highest baseball IQ
Putting Skills to Test: Practice Games and Scrimmages
Even the most rigorous training regime can’t match the experience gained from actual gameplay.
Practice games and scrimmages offer invaluable opportunities to put their physical and mental preparations to the test in a near-real-game situation.
In these practice games, remind them to focus on executing the skills they have been working on. This includes everything from making a proper throw and executing strategic hits, to navigating the bases efficiently.
Remember, it’s not just about the individual performance but to showcase their understanding of team dynamics and strategy as well.
Coaches often use scrimmages to observe players’ performance under game-like conditions, making these excellent occasions to stand out.
Most importantly, scrimmages are an excellent platform to make mistakes, learn from them, and improve, so tell your kid to not be afraid of errors; errors are essential part of the development process for a player.
As the tryout day approaches, it’s essential to have a plan in place to ensure optimal performance and calm nerves.
Nutrition and Hydration
- The food and drink they consume before the tryout can significantly impact your energy levels and focus
- Aim for a balanced meal that includes lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Foods like chicken, brown rice, and avocados can provide sustained energy. Sugar will make them more hyper and un-focused.
- Ensure that they hydrate adequately before, during, and after the tryout. Water is usually sufficient, but for longer sessions, sports drinks can help replenish electrolytes
Warm-ups and Cool-downs
- Proper warm-ups prepare a body for intense physical activity and can help prevent injuries
- Incorporate dynamic exercises like jogging, high knees, and arm circles to elevate their heart rate and loosen their muscles
- After the tryout, cool down with gentle static stretches to help their body recover and prevent stiffness and soreness
Attitude and Behavior
- How they carry themselves during the tryout can make a lasting impression
- Maintain a positive and respectful attitude towards coaches, other players, and the sport. Ask your child to listen attentively to instructions and applying feedback
- Remember, the way they react to setbacks or successes on the field can speak volumes about their character
Parental Roles in Tryouts
Tryouts aren’t the end of their baseball journey; they’re just another stepping stone. Irrespective of the outcome, there’s always room to learn and grow.
After the tryout, take some time off for an honest assessment with your child.
If you are a father, the urge to tell your child what they did wrong and how they can fix it will be strong.
HOLD YOUR TONGUE!
I have made my share of making this mistake, and can tell you that this kind of talk does not work.
Ask them reflect on their performance in their own words and just listen.
Facing rejection can be challenging, but tell your child that the setback doesn’t define their potential or worth as a player.
Many successful athletes have faced setbacks. What’s important is how one handle it.
Tell your child to use it as motivation to work harder and improve for the next opportunity because I can assure you, there will be more opportunities as long as they keep playing.
While it’s natural to want your child to succeed, remember to strike a balance between motivation and pressure. Focus on effort and growth over success, and remind them that it’s okay to make mistakes.
The goal should be to develop a love for the game and a commitment to self-improvement.
Youth baseball tryouts are an exciting and potentially stressful time.
However, with the right physical and mental preparation, a dedication to continual learning and improvement, and supportive parents, young players can navigate this process confidently.
Always remember that baseball is more than just a game. It teaches life skills like teamwork, perseverance, and sportsmanship. Whether your child makes the team or not, help them to continue to pursue their passion for baseball, help them to keep developing their skills.
No single tryout defines a child’s potential. Help them to not be afraid of keep swinging for the fences, and eventually, they will hit a home run or two.
What should I bring to a baseball tryout?
You should bring your baseball equipment including a glove, bat, helmet, cleats, and baseball pants. Also bring water and any necessary personal items, like sunscreen or medication.
What skills are evaluated during a baseball tryout?
Skills typically evaluated include hitting, fielding, throwing, catching, base running, and in some cases, pitching. Coaches also consider an athlete’s sportsmanship, teamwork, and attitude.
How can I stand out during a tryout?
Beyond showcasing your skills, you can stand out by demonstrating good sportsmanship, a positive attitude, strong communication, hustle, and a strong understanding of the game.
How should I prepare for a baseball tryout?
Preparation should include physical conditioning, honing fundamental skills, practicing specific drills, and cultivating a positive mindset. Also, getting a good night’s sleep and eating a healthy meal before the tryout can make a difference.
Do I need to have previous experience to try out for a baseball team?
It depends on the level of play. Beginner and recreational leagues often welcome players with no experience. However, competitive and travel teams typically prefer players with some level of experience.
What is the importance of mental preparation for a tryout?
Mental preparation is key to handling pressure and showcasing your abilities during a tryout. It helps you remain focused, confident, and allows you to perform at your best under stress.
How soon will I know if I made the team after a tryout?
This varies by team, but typically, coaches will notify players within a week or two after the tryout.
What if I don’t make the team?
It’s important to remember that not making the team is not a reflection of your worth. Use it as a learning experience, seek feedback, and continue to practice and improve your skills for the next opportunity.
Can I try out for multiple positions?
Yes, often you can try out for multiple positions. Showing versatility can be an asset, but be prepared to demonstrate proficiency in each position.
What does it mean to be a “five-tool” player in baseball?
A “five-tool” player excels in five key areas: hitting for average, hitting for power, base running speed and skills, throwing ability, and fielding abilities. These players are rare and highly valued in baseball.
What is the typical roster size for a baseball team?
The roster size can vary based on the league and the age group. In Major League Baseball, the active roster typically includes 26 players. 12U and younger teams may carry anywhere from 11 to 12 players. Middle school and High School teams may carry 15 players. High school team will also have three or four pitching-only players on the roster. Always check with your specific league to understand their rules and guidelines regarding roster sizes.