TRYOUTS: THE LITTLE THINGS THAT MATTER


ERICK MOJICA

M.S KINESIOLOGY

FEBRUARY 26, 2020

 

Hello there! Sorry for the long break of blog content, but I’m back to bring you some awesome new content through Mo Baseball and Training!

On this blog post, I wanted to share some insight into those young ballplayers getting ready for high school tryouts. This was all inspired by the talks we had at the end of our winter practices with Adidas 3-Stripes this past weekend. It reminded me of the excitement and low-key nervous feeling of impressing my coaches back in the day.

Tryouts can be structured a little bit differently from school to school, but there are a few elements that never change wherever you play. Quite honestly, some of these things do not change much in life after baseball.

 

Preparation

Really you should’ve taken the entire offseason to prepare for this moment, but that’s not breaking news to you. What I want to share with you is the preparation for tryouts the night before.

Once again this is obvious stuff, but you need to make sure that you have everything you need equipment-wise ready to go. Double-check your bag and keep everything neat. The last thing you want to happen is storming through your bag only to find out you left your glove in the garage. Even worse, this happens right in front of your coaches. Simple things right?

Also, show up early. You don’t want to be the guy arriving at the field when everyone is already warming up. It’s never a bad look to arrive well before you are asked. If you know for sure you can’t get there early enough, communicate with a coach and tell them why. 

Some of my players have informed me that their tryouts begin at 5 AM… YIKES! 

Get to bed early and set the alarm for whatever time you’re going to need to be alert and get your body ready to go. It might be a good idea to wake up at that time a few days prior just to get familiar with it.

 

Communication

 

Make sure that before tryouts you communicate with your coaches and establish a good first impression. I can’t tell you how many kids I’ve coached that fail to make eye contact and give a solid handshake.

Believe me that coaches remember those types of things. Your play obviously determines if you’re good enough to make the team, but respect goes a long way when it comes down to being in the final roster cuts… should you be in that position.

Answer every time with “Yes Sir” or “Yes Coach.” I have personally crossed off names in tryouts when I got a bad vibe from a player. Especially when I noticed foul language or any sense of a bad attitude. A little unfair? Maybe… But if it came down to 2 players to choose for 1 spot, more often than not I’m gonna take the kid who showed me how serious he’s taking this opportunity.

Some coaches don’t care that much, but why take the gamble right?

On another note, make sure to ask questions anytime you have a doubt. Especially under time constraints in a tryout, never assume the instructions that your coaches give you. If you didn’t hear how he wants you to work through a drill, ask for clarification to make sure you get it done right.

A coach would rather much have you ask than to see you do the opposite. Frustrating your coach is definitely not something that’s going to help your cause.

 

Hustle

 

Don’t fake anything, but make sure you run hard on and off the field at all times. Walking on the field on tryout day is a huge sign on your back that says “I don’t care!”

It’s easy to run hard when you know you’re being watched, and it says a lot about you when no one has to ask you directly. Be the first to pick up baseballs and grab equipment. When a coach asks for a volunteer, don’t bother raising your hand. Be the first one to move and compete with everyone else in the tryout.

Your hustle shows how much you care. It’s not about kissing up to your coaches, but rather committing in being the person that’s there to serve the team. Anyone can say that they want to be a part of the team, but walking the talk truly shows it.

 

Body Language

 

This is HUUUUUGE!!! Even Javy Baez boots a grounder every now and then right?

When you make a mistake, it is crucial that you shake it off and get ready for the next one. Depending on how your coach structures the tryout, you might only get 3 balls hit to you on defense. Make every single rep count with not just your skills, but with how you respond to failure.

Confidence is important and we all express it in different ways. Make sure you don’t laugh it off and come off as you don’t take it seriously. Don’t get upset and show too much emotion. Just bear down, get back to your spot and get ready for the next one.

It happens sometimes, but there’s a chance that you have an off day at tryouts. For some reason, you missed every groundball hit to you. You hit terrible and couldn’t throw a strike in your bullpen. Especially if it’s a one-day tryout, there’s nothing else that you can show except a positive attitude. 

As a former player and now coach, I can tell you that most coaches can get a pretty good idea that you know how to play just by how you move. Some of it is athleticism and some are just simple body language. 

 

Moral of the story here? Make sure that if you don’t make the team, it is because you need to work on your baseball skills. Nothing else.

 

I’m gonna take a leap of faith and say that most of you young ballplayers don’t have much to worry about. But it’s probably a good refresher to be reminded of these simple things and lock in when it truly matters.

Some of you are absolute beasts on the field and don’t have much to worry about. Never be complacent with where you are or who you’ve become!

For those of you that are more on the nervous side of things, remember why you love baseball and try to have fun. Obviously, this whole article covers the serious parts of a tryout, but when you take care of business, the fun eventually comes your way.

If things don’t work out for you, you have two options: get better or quit.

 

I’ll finish this up with a brief story on how I got cut from my first college tryouts, TWICE!

I had my connections with Cal Baptist University (NAIA then and NCAA D1 today), and I thought I had the stars lined up to go to school there and play college baseball. As a pitcher, I faced 5 batters and got 5 outs… TWICE!

Both years that I attended their summer prospect camp, I had my heart crushed that I wasn’t good enough for their program. As the devastation tore me down, it was the gasoline to the spark in my love for baseball that created an explosion of hard work and endless hours to get 1% better each and every day.

I later found myself moving from California to Kansas City to pitch for Avila University for 4 amazing years of my baseball life. One of which we were crowned Conference Champions and went on to play in Regionals. 

Moral of the story… getting cut and heartbroken lead me to become the ballplayer that I was and the coach that I am today. It’s really up to you to decide which path you want to take.

Good luck at tryouts fellas! Let me know how you did!

 

(Shoutout to Coach Matthew Carpenter with Adidas 3-Stripe Prospects for the inspiration to write this piece!)

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