Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tips On Handling Baseball Try Outs

By Jim Bain

I was driving past the junior college the other day when I noticed the parking lots were filled to the maximum, which would not have been strange if school was in session, but it wasn't. As I slowed, being nosey, I saw the baseball field was swarming with baseball players of all sizes and dress and realized what was going on.

Either the college or a professional ball club was holding tryouts, and based on the amount of participation, I was betting a major league team. I actually became nauseous to my stomach, sympathy pains for the players, as visions of my first try out flooded my mind. I know it sounds silly, but I actually pulled the truck over to the side of the road to allow my hands to quit trembling.

Try out sessions are either by invitation or a general open session which any one can attend, which an open session may seem crazy as every Tom, Dick and Harry could show up, but believe me, they weed out the impostors incredibly fast.

A player, who is very honest with himself, knows if he actually feels he can play at this level, but that does absolutely nothing to calm the nerves. The saying " A big fish in a little pond... is now a small fish in a big pond," definitely applies in this situation.

For the most part, even on traveling teams, you've seen most of the competition you'll be up against, but suddenly there are literally a hundred unfamiliar faces with unknown talents in which to compete against. If your stomach is not in knots by this time, you may be dead, because no matter how good you are, there's always the doubt someone's better.

As I said earlier, they weed out the want-to-be and other non-qualified contestants rather quickly. The very first measure they use to evaluate you is your size. Too short, too fat, small frame and whatever criteria they may have gets you a polite " Thanks, but no thanks." You've been cut without ever having an opportunity to show your skills.

You'll then be herded like cattle into different groups and put through physical tests, such as a 40 or 60 yard dash, timed from home to first, home to home, left field to center field, the list goes on and on. This cuts the field down dramatically, again without seeing any baseball skills.

I won't go any further with the try out explanation, because from what I experienced they are all a little different. Maybe one coach puts more emphasis on a physical requirement than another, or they want to keep everyone guessing as to what they'll be tested on, doesn't matter why, just know they are.

There are four tips I can give you if you're contemplating going to a try out.

1. Come prepared. Glove, bat, spikes, hat and sunglasses are the minimum requirement. I guarantee you nobody will lend you their sunglasses to help cope with a sun field you're going to be trying to catch fungos in.

2. Prepare mentally. Use positive thinking techniques and meditation to calm your nerves and keep self doubt from creeping in. Don't wait until the try out date. Perform these tasks religiously weeks ahead.

3. Pray. With the intense competition, if you truly want to be a professional ball player, a little Devine intervention is required.

4. Don't give up. Some players who were quickly cut because of their size eventually became major league ball players. David Eckstein is a prime example. He was too small, too slow and didn't have the arm to play shortstop at the professional level, yet he became a star doing just that.

Jim Bain, former Minor league baseball player, who since retiring has dedicated his life to teaching baseball to youth, shares his advice on running baseball drills on his exciting info packed website:

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