Thinking of joining a travel baseball team or playing Little League? This list can help you prepare by learning what to expect at a baseball tryout, compiled from interviews with friends and family on their experiences.
Most teams and leagues hold some sort of tryouts, even Little League where there are no cuts. Tryouts can determine whether or not you make a team (in the case of travel ball), or simply serve as an assessment for the coaches to figure out how to create fairly matched teams (in the case of Little League and other types of recreational ball). Tryouts may be held in late summer for Fall, or in early or mid winter for Spring or Summer. Exact dates will vary depending on when your local baseball season begins. For travel baseball, tournament hosting organizations will likely post tryouts, such as this NC GameOn Sports page or this Top Gun page for North Carolina teams. Find your local Little League on the League Finder site.
Trying out can be a little intimidating, so keep these tips in mind.
- Your child will not play a game at the tryout. There will be a set of stations, where your child will be asked to perform one or two skills at each station. The stations will most likely cover infield, outfield, speed running, pitching, and hitting.
- You will see players much better and much worse than your own child. There is nothing you can do about either. You child could end up on the same team with any of those players. Try not to compare, even though it will be hard. Everyone will get an equal chance to tryout.
- You may be uncomfortable for an undetermined amount of time. Bring a chair, preferably the same one that you bought based on this post. It might be indoors, or it might be held at a field with no bleachers. Or a soccer field. It could be cold. Or terribly hot. Remember these are usually held in the off season. And if there are a lot of potential players, it could be very long.
- You may not see anything. In travel ball, your child is likely to be completed removed from where you are. In Little League, you may be able to view their tryout.
- And if you can see the tryout, don’t follow your child around from station to station. And don’t yell advice to them. The coaches want to see how your child plays, not you – and they will tell them which station to go to next.
- You may see players dressed in a variety of outfits, including the uniforms of top tier baseball teams. You should definitely have your child wear baseball clothes to the tryout – baseball pants, socks, a belt, and cleats. For travel ball, it’s not uncommon to see prospective players in another team’s gear (such as, perhaps, their current team that they want to switch from). Your child should be comfortable, and look and feel like a baseball player.
- Even if the tryout is at a field you have visited before, you should assume the bathrooms, concessions, and water fountains will be closed. Go to the bathroom before you leave home, and bring some water with you.
- Feedback is rarely immediate. Some leagues and teams may take several weeks to make a decision. That can be especially agonizing if it’s a team that you child really wants to play for, but it’s the reality.
- Once contacted, you may be asked to make a commitment quickly. Talk through options ahead of time, and make sure you and your player have communicated on preferences and any questions that you need to have answered.
- Tell your child to have fun! It’s baseball!