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Some Tryout Tips

by Dave
Thursday, August 14, 2008

You get to the field somewhat early and find others arrived before you, a lot of others.   More girls trickle in until it seems as if there is a large tournament taking place today.   You know you have skills sufficient to make this team but you're wondering how the heck you are going to gain the attention of the team's coaches with this many girls trying out.   What can you do, what approach should you take, what are the things you should keep in mind as you try to earn one of 12 or 13 spots from within a crowd of 30, 40, maybe 50 or more girls?

  1. Don't play catch:

    At a recent tryout, I heard the coach admonish the girls, "you are not playing catch here, you are being evaluated!"   That's an important piece of advice that most coaches will not offer at tryouts.

    When you are throwing back and forth at a tryout, you really are not playing catch.   If you want to play catch, grab a friend and go to some fields on your own time.   Right now, you are trying out.   There's nothing leisurely about the next 2, 3 or 4 hours.   So when you are doing warm-up throws, don't act like you are just at one of your many practices.   It's game time.

    Catch the ball out in front of you, hop to position and make a good solid throw.   We've been over this before but when you are warming up your arm before a game or in most other circumstances, what you don't want to do is have your feet nailed to the ground and your arms reaching for the ball.   Move your feet to make a catch within "your strike zone."

    "Your strike zone" consists of the lateral space in front of you which can be delineated when you hold your arms out from your body, at about a 45 degree angle.   To see what I mean, stand up and put your arms straight out and to the sides of your body like you are an airplane ready to take off.   Now put your arms directly in front of you.   Your strike zone consists of that space which is evident when your arms are halfway between the two positions (airplane ready to take off and straight in front of you).   Further, your strike zone for catching the ball, in terms of up and down is from the bottom of your gym shorts to your shoulder.   This is similar but a little smaller than your actual strike zone when hitting.

    Always catch the ball in this area, if possible.   "If possible" should be broadly interpreted.   You catch the ball within your strike zone if it is humanly possible to do so.   Always catch the ball with fingers pointed up, again if possible.   Obviously balls in the dirt require you to point your fingers down but almost everything else is possible to catch with them pointed up.   All you need to do to ensure that you catch the ball with fingers pointed up is bend your knees appropriately.

    So, in summary, when you are doing warm-up throwing, it is not pre-tryout time.   You are being evaluated.   Those coaches are not just watching the throws you make.   They are watching everything.   They may make marks on their evaluation sheet about your athleticism during warm-ups!   So, don't be lazy.   Move the body.   Move your feet.   Bend your knees.   Try (try hard) to catch the ball within your strike zone.

    After the ball hits leather, hop into a good throwing position.   Keep balanced.   Point your off shoulder at the target and make a nice, mechanically correct, four seam throw, over the top.   I believe we've discussed these subjects before but when making a throw, you are looking for what is described in baseball as a four-seamer.   That means the longest portion of the ball's laces which are evident when you examine a ball are the ones which do the spinning.   If you were to use slow motion film from the target area, you would see one long lace, then another, then another, and finally the fourth one.   What you should not see is rings or a wild assortment of laces spinning all over the place.   Is that clear enough?   The way to throw a four-seamer is to grip the ball properly, finger tips across one seam and thumb hold onto the seam beneath that, and then to make your arm motion virtually 12 o'clock down to 6.   It is humanly impossible to actually throw straight 12 to 6 but the closer you can get to that, the better.

    The trouble with throwing a ball side arm or via a two seam grip is, it tends to sail.   A two seam throw is one in which two of your fingers grip laces running side by side.   As the ball travel through the air, one seam hits the front of the ball's path, then another does immediately afterwards, than no seam makes contact for the remaining 80% of one revolution.   This causes the ball to wobble and track to one side or the other, if it is not thrown perfectly 12-6.   Throwing sidearm makes even a four-seamer tail to the side.

    The best arms, at least from my point of view, whether infield or outfield, are always the girls who throw "over the top."   For one thing, when a kid throws over the top, I assume she has had training.   When a kid throws sidearm, I figure she learned that in the sandlot and nobody has been able to correct her since.   Depending on her age, I doubt I'm going to be able to do anything with her.   I think this way because I have tried and failed to correct too many kids who throw from the side or three quarters.   Just this past year, we had a kid who arguably had the strongest arm on the team but who threw sidearm.   We, all of the coaches, worked her throughout the winter to come over the top.   We appeared to make some progress.   But later, she went back to her improper mechanics.   She seemed like a coachable kid but in the end, she was not.   And I cannot tell you how many throwing errors she made during the season.

    There's another aspect besides errors which play into my need to have kids with good throwing mechanics.   We throw a lot in practice.   I believe that is the single most important aspect to defensive drilling.   I'll hit a grounder to third and yell, "go one" but after the throw is made, I make the girls throw it around.   "Go three," "four," "go two," "back around the horn."   Every grounder is generally followed up with at least three throws after the initial one.   Kids who throw improperly invariably end up sitting out of practices due to arm pain.

    Every kid who comes to my practices is going to throw more than they ever have before.   That's just me but I can tell you that many other coaches I know feel similarly.   Most of the teams I have watched practice do a lot of throwing.   And there's always some kid rubbing their arm in the dugout wishing they could be back out there.

    I remember last year there was a high school team nearby.   This team was a very good one which was coached by a former player in the WCWS.   She made the kids throw a ton - more than I do because they practiced 5 to 6 days a week for months.   On that team there was an outstanding freshman pitcher who had played high level travel ball.   She made varsity based not on her pitching because there were numerous other good pitchers on the team, but rather based on her hitting.   She played DP for a while and then graduated to the outfield.   During the course of the season, she threw perhaps ten to twenty more times than she had ever done before.   She didn't throw badly per se but she had a tendency to push her arm out from her shoulder.   She developed shoulder problems and had to take quite a lot of time away from pitching when the season was over and travel ball picked up again.

    Before I even consider a kid for a team, the first thing I look at is throwing mechanics.   Without them, there is little I feel I can do.   And I know kids who throw badly are going to miss lots of practice time, perhaps games.   When you tryout, please try to keep your mechanics together and throw over the top.   If you get lazy even once and sidearm or three quarters one, there's a decent chance somebody like me is writing down "sidearmer."   That's often one of those disqualifying events.

  2. Go Two!

    If the team you are trying out for has multiple dates for their tryout and you aren't otherwise engaged, pleas go to every tryout you possibly can.   Many teams will tell you to come to multiple dates.   Some won't.   I was talking to the father of a kid who was trying out for a showcase team the other day and she came to both tryout dates.   The father overheard a couple of the coaches talking.   One said to the other with reference to a kid who had stood out the first day, "I guess she felt she didn't have to come both days."   The other, the head coach, replied, "Nobody makes my team if they don't come to every tryout.   Does she really think she's that good that she only needs to show up once?"   Those coaches hadn't bothered mentioning this to anyone.   But they are intense.   And this is a very good team.   The number of kids they will beg to join them is extremely few.   There's no way to know if you really were "that good" at your tryout.   So when there are multiple days, go to them unless you really have something better to do.   If you cannot make the second and/or third date, tell the coach that and why.

    I should say that a week ago some kid was trying out for my team and the father engaged me in conversation.   I liked the kid a lot and she is a very good ballplayer who had a very good tryout.   The father said, "So, we should come back tomorrow, right?"   I said, "Come back if you want to run these same drills but I can tell you that I have seen plenty and there is nothing you need to show me.   If you have something else to do, your not being here is not going to impact my decision one way or another.   I want you on my team, period."   That kid didn't need to come back but everyone else would have benefitted from additional tryouts.

    Further to the point, I had my kid tryout for a team which she does not intend on playing for.   The tryouts were held in the middle of the week when we would not ordinarily have anything going on other than to go to the fields and practice on our own.   So I thought to myself, "my shoulder, arm, wrist and back are killing me - we should just go to this tryout for the heck of it since I don't want to go hit balls today."   They told us they want the girls back for a second day this weekend.   Well, we have tryouts for teams we want to make so there's no going back.   We planned that long before these tryouts were scheduled.   I hope they don't think poorly of me or my daughter though that is a risk.   But we just don't have time for a second tryout with this organization.   There's no way we can make it.   And at least to me, when you don't show up for more than one tryout - unless somebody tells you not to bother coming - everyone probably believes you are at another tryout, perhaps for a team you would prefer over this one.

  3. Watch out for guns!

    I was talking to the father of a girl trying out for a high level team recently.   He brought his daughter to the hitting part of a tryout.   Her first task was to go out and stand in the field to retrieve balls while the hitters hit.   A ball came her way, she lazily picked up, and lobbed it back into the infield.   The father was casually watching things move along while waiting for his kid to get a chance to hit.   All of a sudden he realized to his extreme horror that some guy had lifted a gun to his daughter's lazy throw back.   He was radar gunning all the girls waiting for their turns at bat and writing down his readings.   The father wanted to scream out to his daughter to throw the darn ball but he realized he couldn't do that - see below.   Later, he told her, "I hope you realize you blew it with this team."   She had no idea what he was talking about so he told her, "You know, every time you lazily threw the ball in, there was somebody gunning you.   He wrote down the speed of every throw you made during batting practice.   You acted like you were retrieving balls during one of our practices and they were evaluating you the whole time."

    All ball players should be aware of their surroundings at all times.   Everyone ought to pay attention to who the people with such things as clipboards, notebooks, radar guns and stopwatches are.   You don't need to throw for an audience per se but you should nonchalant stuff either.   If there is some idiot gunning you at 10U tryouts, most likely he is just playing with a toy.   At 14U, 16U, 18U, most likely the guy with the gun is deadly serious.   Again, this is not practice.   It is game time.   You are "on" during the sntirety of tryouts.   You are being watched, clocked, etc.   Pretend the whole time is a live game.

  4. Stand out when you want, not when you don't

    When the team does some sort of warm-up jog around the field or any sort of agility or speed stuff, you may not be a barn burner but you need to try to finish at least in the middle of the pack.   Some kids take the notion that this is just a warm-up run a little too seriously.   They'll jog so as to avoid any possibility of getting out of breath even if that means they finish dead last.   Sometimes, coaches will have girls run at 50% or 75% of speed before beginning real sprints.   If you finish these dead last by a wide enough margin, you can almost bet that some evaluator is writing down your number under the category "slow" or "unathletic."   Even if you have to get a little out of breath or push harder than you think you should, make sure somebody or somebodies are behind you.

    One of my pet peeves involves a line of girls fielding grounders at practice.   I hit some balls and then have to yell "next" because several girls are talking about last night's sleepover.   That's not the optimum situation at practice.   At tryouts it tells me who is going to be giving me a hard time or making me yell.   You don't want to not be ready when your turn comes along.   You really do not want to stand out from the crowd in this manner.

    Another of my pet peeves occurs in this same grounder line.   Sometimes there is a girl who appears to be getting bored by the easy grounders.   She is a good athlete and I want practice to be meaningful for her.   So, I'm going to give her stuff to get her ready for the next level.   I might pound a few balls at her, make her go side to side, or put spins on the balls.   If she doesn't miss a few, I haven't done my job.   But my pet peeve arises when I do this, she misses one and somebody standing in line chatting gets hit hard.   I don't like hurting kids.   I feel entirely responsible when I do.   But I do not want someone on my team who is going to continuously get hit by missed grounders.   So, if you are busy chatting and not paying attention, you may make me yell "next" or you may get hit by a ball.   You are standing out but not in the way you want to.   On the other hand, if I slow down and then realize you have been frozen in the ready position for 30 seconds waiting for me, then you get to stand out in another way, a good way.

  5. Confident and friendly, not a social butterfly or an anti-social hornet

    I think one of the things which is least understood at tryouts is the social aspect of things.   It is generally understood, I believe, that coaches are not merely looking for the absolute best athletes.   They want good teammates who are coachable.   That doesn't mean that wall flowers have no chance - many shy girls fall into the category of highly coachable.   But everyone should try to be friendly on some level, friendly towards others trying out and friendly towards the coaches.

    Friendly means responsive to direct words.   Friendly means cheering each other on.   Friendly means happy to be where you are.   It does not mean you approach coaches as if you've known them your whole life or like they are your new best friend.

    I have encountered a number of girls who are a little too friendly at tryouts.   You might say they suffer from a little overconfidence.   They talk to you as if you are their parents' friends.   They would rather speak than listen.   And they waste your time.   They act as if making great friends with you or the person they think is your daughter will guarantee them a slot on the team.

    Additionally, I have observed girls who during warm-up throwing try to impress their throwing mate, if not intimidate them.   These are the girls who throw as hard as they possibly can from 30 feet.   Sometimes it looks like they are trying to scare the other kid.   I remember one kid throwing with my older daughter several years ago.   You could see in her face that she wanted to scare the bejesus out of my daughter.   But she wasn't going to get scared.   We threw back and forth a lot in those days and I threw the ball hard at her to acclimate her to such things.   This kid was throwing her absolute hardest at 30feet and my kid was catching the ball nonchalantly - this was a practice and the girls were just waiting for the rest of the team to show up.   You could read oin this kid's face that she was exclusively interested in intimidation.   She turned out to be a lousy teammate.   She wasn't all that good of a ballplayer.   And she hurt her arm several times.

    I watch out for that kid and others like her whenever I conduct tryouts.   If a kid is throwing extremely hard from close up, I take a hard look at her face to see if what she is after is intimidation.   Several times I have found a kid who I thought was doing that.   I put a note next to her name or number so I can watch her interact with others.   If I see one more piece of anti-social behavior, she's gone.   We don't need poison on our team.   Things are hard enough without that.

    Be friendly, responsive to coaches, nice to those around you trying out and things should go OK.   Don't distract or be distracted.   Cheer for others or slap them five when they make plays.   Don't try to intimidate anyone.   I'm watching you.   You aren't going to make my team by making someone else look bad.

  6. Get dirty

    The one act which gets the most favorable result is getting dirty.   You puit ten girls out at third and hit each three grounders.   Nine girls field every ball cleanly and make decent throws.   Then the tenth kid steps in and you hit one too far to her left.   She dives for the ball and misses it.   Guess who makes the best impression?

    This is not to say that girls should try to dive for balls they should make while staying on their feet.   But the kid who dives when the coach hits basically a basehit through the hole is going to make a very favorable impression.   Everyone likes an infielder who isn't afraid of getting dirty.   And if that dive comes early enough in the tryout, you are going to carry that dirt stain on your evaluation form for the rest of the workout.   You are going to step up to the plate to hit and all the coaches are going to say to themselves, "this is that kid who dove."   Everywhere you go, you are going to be more identifiable than any of the other kids.   Everybody has numbers on their back.   You have your number all over your practice uniform.   And everything you do is going to begin with coaches having a favorable impression of you before the drill starts.

    There are several drills which many coaches will conduct which are intended to see if girls are willing to dive and get dirty.   For instance, the coach may line everyone up at infield positions and then hit balls between short and third, up the middle or other places.   She wanst to see somebody, anybody, get dirty.   I watched a tryout in which the coach hit balls past 3B several times.   About the tenth one she hit, she stopped and begged the girls, "Is somebody going to dive for one of these?   These are playable.   These are the third baseman's ball.   Girls, you have got to get dirty.   If you don't dive now, you aren't going to dive in games!"

  7. Don't be afraid of the ball

    This is a tough subject.   I suppose everyone is at least somewhat afraid of the ball.   That's human nature.   Nobody actually wants to be hit by a pitch thrown 60 or struck by a grounder moving 90.   Sure, some hitters seem as if they want to gain a base by being hit by the pitch - that's why softball has rules against failing to try to get out of the way.   And some fielders are hard as nails and never seem to shy away.   But nobody walks onto the field saying, "I hope I get hit, hit a lot, and hit hard by balls today."   Everyone should have a healthy awareness of the dangers posed by a flying ball.

    Still, one of the disqualifying moments at any tryout occurs when a girl demonstrates apparent fear of the ball.   I was at a tryout the other day when some girl persistently caught grounders and line drives to her side.   Then when a hard smash was hit right at her, she moved to the side and missed what should have been an easy play.   I jotted down, "afraid of the ball."

    I didn't write down a lot of comments about kids that day but of maybe 24 kids on the field, I wrote that same comment 3 times.   When it came time to go over evaluations, I listened intently as one of the evaluators said, "she was pretty good, decent arm, reasonable athleticism, not too bad of a hitter."   Then I let go of my bomb shell, "she's afraid of the ball."   The evaluator looked me straight in the face to judge my earnestness.   So I added, "do you remember when they were taking grounders at third.   She caught everything to the side and then ducked out of the way when a hard shot was hit at her."   The evaluator remembered this when I reminded her about it and that kid's number never came up again.

    I recall an e-mail exchange I once had with defensive softball specialist Howard Kobata in which I was inquiring about the earliest age to have a kid attend one of his clinics.   He said that he thought 13 was a good age because, by then, most girls weren't afraid of the ball anymore.   He said, I can work with anyone who isn't afraid of the ball but I can do nothing with one who is.   He felt that too many kids at 12 and below are afraid of the ball so he suggests that girls wait until they are 13 before coming to one of his clinics.

    I remember a showcase team tryout I watched a few years back.   There was a girl I know there.   She is quite a hitter but her other skills precluded her from being invited to the team.   I watched as she batted against a college pitcher - this girl trying out had turned 14 recently and had not yet stepped foot inside her high school.   She hit a couple of line drives off the college pitcher who had been hired for the specific task of pitching at tryouts.   The pitcher didn't like this youngster hitting her pitches.   She started working her a little harder than the others.   Then, when the girl's time was almost up, a coach said, "two more."   The girl drilled the next pitch to left for what would have been a base hit.   The pitcher picked up another ball, looked in stoically, wound up and drilled the kid.   There was that half second when I knew the pitcher had done this intentionally and I wondered what the overall reaction would be.   The 14 year old batter never flinched.   She looked immediately at the coach and said, "can I have another?"   All the coaches there that day smiled broadly.   They couldn't help it.   I smiled too.   In fact everyone there smiled, except the pitcher.   The girl got another pitch just off the plate but definitely a ball.   She took it even though it was her last pitch to hit.   I think one of the coaches said something like "throw her a strike, please."

    later that day the coaches let this 14 year old girl know that she hadn't made the team this time around.   But one coach said, "You're a tough coookie.   I want you back here next year."   That is the incident which I believe most clearly demonstrates the way in which coaches view fear of the ball and no apparent fear of the ball.   Anyone can work with a girl who is not overly afraid of the ball.   Nobody wants to work with a kid who is genuinely fearful when she walks onto the field.

  8. Stay after the ball

    A ball was hit by the coach way far away from the intended fielder at a recent tryout.   The kid was stationed in right and the out of practice coach hit a screaming liner to center.   He was supposed to hit pops to right and was somewhat embarrassed when he crushed one to center.   He said, "Sorry" immediately and picked up another ball.   The kid in right took off after it.   Several evaluators yelled, "Let it go and take another" but this kid was off to the races.   She ran like the wind and got to that ball.   For a moment, this seemed like a waste of precious time and all the coaches and evaluators seemed annoyed at the delay as she ran hard after the errant liner.   They tried to call to her to come back but chopped off their words in mid sentence.   This kid was like some Golden retriever chasing a tennis ball.   You couldn't have stopped her with a high power rifle.   All stood and watched as she chased, retrieved and made a throw as if there were runners going around the bases.   Nobody jotted down anything like "doesn't take direction well" or "failed to listen to coaches."   They all understood.   This kid was conditioned or born genetically ready to chase yellow balls with red laces and retrieve them as quickly as possible.   Once the ball was in the air, it was go time.   And you cannot easily teach that.

    On another occassion, a ball was hit to girls fielding grounders at third.   One took a bad hop and bounded away from the kid.   Her body posture said, "OK, that one got away and this is just practice, I'll go get it and then take another one."   I suppose this wasn't a game and there were no runners on base.   But this was a tryout and what did the coaches think when they saw that?   Maybe they thought nothing.   And maybe they thought and/or wrote, "gives up on the ball."   When you're at tryouts, it is game time.   And there are always runners on base.   Stay after the ball, ignore the coaches telling you to let it go.   Follow your instincts.   Go make the darn play and then ask for another!

  9. Don't get "hurt"

    I'm not telling you to avoid injury in tryouts although the last thing you want to do is go to your first tryout and then get hurt so bad you can't go to another.   But when you are fielding grounders, taking swings, or whatever and you get struck by the ball, don't stop playing, grab at the injured area, or otherwise make a scene, at least not at first.   First, finish the play, get the out, pick up the ball, and make a throw.   If you do that, then you can collapse to the earth, grab at your injury or otherwise make a scene.

    If you finish the play even after you get whacked by a 90 mph grounder, the coaches are going to have to admire you.   We've all seen or been involved with circumstances in which a player gets genuinely hurt in the middle of a play.   We all feel for the injured kid and want to run to her immediately to take care of things.   But we have to wait until the play is over.   And if some kid gets whacked, picks up the ball and throws it in before retrieving her tooth, eyeball, nose, or head, that's a really good thing.   If you get whacked by the ball, it is really OK to be hurt but please try to finish the play before collapsing into a heap.

  10. Make smart throws

    We talked about four seamers and throwing over the top but there are things you need to consider when you are in the action, like when you are fielding outfield balls and throwing to the bases.   Many softball and baseball players feel the need to make the throw all the way to the target.   If the throw is long, most players will throw a long, looping one that is intended to be caught right at the base.   Most such throws do not reach their intended target anyway and if the thing travels on the trajectory of a moon rocket, you will certainly get noticed, just not in the manner you would like.   Make your throws from the outfield on a lower trajectory.

    Imagine an infield cutoff, if there is nobody out there ready for such a cutoff.   Throw the ball so that you would hit an infielder in the head if she were standing there waiting for the cutoff.   It really is OK if the ball bounces once or even twice before reaching the base you are aiming for.   Say you are in rightfield and have been instructed to throw to third.   You track and catch the fly or charge and get the grounder.   Now, picture an infielder halfway between you and third.   Throw the ball at her head.   The ball will probably bounce before it reaches its destination but it should bounce right up to the third baseman and about land right on the bag.   That's a perfect throw, in case you didn't realize it.   A bad throw is one which rises 15 or 20 feet in the area and then reaches the third baseman on a fly but 5-10 feet off the bag.   It seems like the ball got there faster but it didn't.   And there's no way to apply a tag on the sliding runner if the 3B is 5-10 feet away from the bag.

    In a related topic, is is far better to make a short throw than a long one.   If in the same scenario, you over throw the 3B and the ball sails beyond the fence along the line, that's not merely a runner you wouldn't get out, that's an extra base for every baserunner.   If instead, you make your throw too short, the 3B should be able to prevent it from getting past her.   You may not get an out but you didn't hand the runners an extra base.   Also, if your throw was slightly offline, the infielders are going to have an easier time retrieving the ball if it is rolling than they will if it is flying.

  11. Parents - behave

    We all should know by now that when a kid comes onto a ball field and does something of the underperforming variety, most people do not look back at the parent and think, "I wonder what's wrong with those people that they produced a child that bad."   Most of the time, people are not standing around thinking "that guy must have been a real loser in high school - just look at his kid."   Your children are reflections of themselves.   Sometimes their actions on a ball field demonstrate that maybe you should or should have played catch a bit more frequently.   But when an otherwise decent ball player does not make the play you think they should, yelling "come on, you're better than that" does not help them achieve or receive positive recognition at a tryout.   Chances are pretty good they won't make the next play either.   The only thing communicated by such an act is perhaps this kid is going to fold in real games because her parents are overbearing.

    The act which really gets my attention happens when a bunch of girls are fielding balls in some location and one kid makes an error.   Her father or mother saunters over and then whispers something like come on.   Less obvious is when the parents moves into such position so as to make eye contact with the kid and "encourage her silently."   This may get by the judges but every once in a while it gets noticed.   Coaches do want kids who have been worked by their parents from a young age but this area borders on reflecting negatively.   If you are a parent at tryouts, watch, listen, learn, gather facts, but stay out of it.   if your kid has been prepared well, that will show.   And one or two bad plays is not going to disqualify her from most teams.

  12. Remember there are other people there

    It is a part of reality that sometimes everyone in the crowd is not who you think they are.   I have observed many tryouts in which one kid is there just for the heck of it while her parent might be there for sinister reasons - he or she is there to get a leg up on recruits for his or her own team.   I was recently at a tryout at which something funny happened.   The tryouts were held over two days with the instruction that nobody needed to come for two days.   Loads of girls showed up the first day but only one appeared the second day.   I supppose that most girls initially thought they'd be there for both days but when they were told they didn't need to come back, they did something else.   But that wasn't the funny part.

    The funny thing that happened involved the one kid who showed up on day 2.   At first I felt sorry for her.   She ran through the drills with nobody around to keep her company.   She didn't get any breaks and was out of breath pretty fast.   Her mother, along the sidelines, looked uncomfortable.   I figured here is one kid who will never join this team since it is apparent to her and her mother that nobody else wants to join the team.   I walked over to the registration table and realized immediately that this kid wasn't here to try out.   I recognized the mother's name and knew she was a coach of a team not too far away that was conducting tryouts the following weekend.   I knew I recognized both mother and daughter but I couldn't find the context.   The mother was there either to see how we ran tryouts or to pick up recruits.   I had no doubt about that.

    Many, many times I have gone to tryouts and found I already had many friends there in the form of other coaches.   Sometimes coaches' kids are genuinely trying out for these teams.   Sometimes they are just exploring.   Sometimes they are there mainly to see who else is around or to watch kids they are pursuing for their own teams.   Some parents and kids who are not all that familiar with the lay of the land do not realize that the coach of the team they really want to make is in the crowd.   So, in effect, everything you are doing at this tryout couold count double.   The coach who is watching and evaluating your kid tomorrow might just be the person standing or sitting next to you today.   favorable impressions can be made at this tryout.   Unfavorable ones can be too!

So go out and do some tryouts.   Treat these like you would games.   Play seriously, play aggressively, get dirty, be friendly, don't distract or be distracted, and remember, you never know when you are being watched, judged clocked, gunned, or by whom.


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