Q. Coaching: Making the Team
A. You have to draw the eye of the baseball coach. I hear the word Politics a lot when people are talking about making the team. I think more often than not what the parents are referring to is familiarity. If baseball coaches know certain kids, or they know kids play for a certain organization, they have some background information to go off of. If you don't have those luxuries, you need to stand out. You are just one of a dozen or so faces that coach doesn't know what to expect from. You have to make coach look at you.
Immediately when kids show up that I've never seen before, I start to assume who are the better players by how they dress, how they carry themselves, and how they move.
If these two players walked into my tryout. My eye would automatically be drawn to one of them. If he made on good play during the tryout it would just confirm my assumption that he can play. The other kid, I assume that he's awkward on the field. It is going to take more than just one play to prove to me that he can actually play the game well. One mistake and he might be done in my book. Why? What is it about these two kids? Do you see it?
Here are some suggestions that come to my head. I bet I could pick a pretty good team just based on the following indicators. If I never saw a kid play, but I just focused on the 10 suggestions listed below, I think I could pick a winning team.
#1 Dress like a baseball player.
You shouldn't have hair hanging out from all sides of the hat.
You should have your shirt tucked in and a belt that matches your hat, socks, or shirt.
You should not wear grey pants with a white shirt. Just don't do it. Trust me.
You should have clean shoes.
You should have a well-taken-care -of glove.
Batting gloves, wrist bands, eye black can compliment the look. Just don't over-do it.
#2 Look Coach in the eyes.
When coach speaks, you hang on his every word.
#3 Carry yourself like a ball player.
Stick your chest out. Don't slouch.
Keep your head up. Don't always look at the ground.
Spit. It makes you look comfortable on the field. Don't ask me why. I just like kids that spit well.
Walk from the on-deck circle like you are going to go fight someone that picked on your little brother.
In the field, don't walk. Move with a bounce in your step.
When you make an error, don't let it change your body language. Force yourself to hold it together and look like the mistake doesn't faze you.
#4 Communicate on the field
Don't chatter! Just don't. No more, "heewego-nowhumnow-whadayasaynowkid-comekid-comeonnow." This does no good.
Communicate in-between every pitch.
Don't just yell, "two down" look at your outfielder and show him until he looks at you and shows you the outs.
When you talk about situations call your teammates by their name, wait 'til you get their attention, then share a reminder about the situation.
As a coach, my eye is drawn to a kid who communicates on the field, not chatter.
#5 Be on time.
10 min. early is on time for a player.
#6 Welcome instruction.
Nod your head yes when coach gives you something to work on. Don't be afraid to mix in a "yes sir."
#7 Look for opportunities to show off your athleticism.
In-between innings when your pitcher is warming up, don't go through the motions.
You might only get one ball hit to you the entire game, so show off your skills while fielding balls from the first baseman.
Catchers, work on your exchange and footwork every pitch.
Outfielders, get behind the ball and come through it when you play catch.
First basemen, get low and use good feet on every throw.
Hustle on the field. Some kids go on and off the field like they are a senior citizen. Look young, bounce a little
#8 Encourage your teammates.
When they do good, let them know.
When they fail, tell them that they'll get him next time.
When they screw up, tell them to learn from.
When they slack, tell them that they are better than that.
Don't get down on a teammate for making a mistake.
Don't be fake about it. Don't do it just to be noticed. Be genuine.
#9 Don't show up out of shape or rusty
Do whatever you have to do to make sure that you are not rusty when tryouts come.
This might mean training, fungoes, running, throwing, or playing.
Whatever gets you ready to show your stuff.
#10 Tell your parents to stay away from you during practice.
Coach doesn't want to deal with parents who over-step boundaries.
PARENTS CAN SCARE COACHES INTO NOT KEEPING KIDS.
"Dad, I love you, and I want to hear what you have to say, but right now I need to focus on my team and I will listen to whatever you have to say on our way home tonight."
Brian Berger, ABC Holiday Camp Director, Owner Youth Baseball Edge