Dominating Tryouts (Part 1)

It was June 21st, 2005 and I had been invited as a Junior in High School to try out for the Milwaukee Brewers Area Code Games Team. Making it would secure a D-1 scholarship and a good chance at getting drafted. No pressure right? 


Nearing the destination my mental RPM‘s began speeding up faster than my red 1997 Volvo zooming down the 405 Los Angeles Freeway.


“What if I make the team? What’s next?  


What if i don’t make the team?  


What if I make a fool of myself?” 


Then, when I arrived at the field and saw the competition…


“What am I even doing here? 


These guys are in high school?


Wow…I don’t stand a chance.


Why did they invite me?


What do they see in me?”


That’s when I blew my tryout. Long before it ever began.  


It still haunts me as my least favorite day of my baseball career. I was prepared physically but had no clue how to handle the situation mentally. No one ever taught me what to expect and how to stay within myself. To control what’s in my control and rely on my preparation rather than fall victim to my situation.   


Back to today …  


As High School baseball tryouts and Pro Spring Training approach, I want to share a simple tip I’ve been discussing with clients to ease worries and increase confidence. It’s simple, but it’s not easy …  (After that, read the P.S. at the bottom for a special opportunity).


Tip: Take the TRY out of TRYOUT.   Now that doesn’t mean don’t try at all. It means to try less and stay within yourself


When there are coaches potentially deciding your athletic future there will be the temptation to try and impress (AKA i-m-pressing). This is the perfect time to try less by taking 10% off our effort because our bodies are already way ramped up. 10% off is the sweet spot and where you play at your best. 


Trying to do more than you’re capable of doing typically ends with you accomplishing much less.  


You do not have to be great. Consistently good is good enough. (Or it’s not, unfortunately).


Do not believe the lie.


Rely on showing off the fundamentals you know well and choose to believe they are good enough. I kid you not … in the heat of tryouts your fundamentals will try to abandon ship because your mind will tell you that your fundamentals aren’t enough to stand out.


Fielding had always been my strength. On the day of my Area Code Game tryout, I booted three of five ground balls. Plays I’d made thousands of times all the sudden sped up on me because I was trying to do too much, throw too hard, or look too fancy for the scouts and other players around me.   


Hold onto your fundamentals like they’re your most precious possession and watch as everyone else tries to do too much and only hurt themselves. That’s when you’ll stand out.


Pretty ladies in the sky. That’s what my college buddies and I called it when we pulled our heads off the ball trying to hit jacks. During your tryout, there’s going to be a lot of pretty ladies in the sky. Keep your head down and hit the backside of the baseball.  Hard:)


Here are a few simple (again, not easy unless you practice, practice, practice these long before the tryout/Spring Training) tips by position:   

Hitters:

  • Have fun. It’s baseball.
  • Take nice deep breaths before stepping into the box and between reps to slow yourself down and get present
  • Pick a sweet part on the bat you want to demolish the ball and focus on that (not mechanics)
  • Make it your mission to see the ball like it’s worth a million dollars
    • Use a scale each pitch of (1-5) on how well you saw the ball w/a five been great; 1 being terrible) 
  • Drive through four baseballs instead of being happy you made contact 
  • Keep your head at point of contact after contact
  • Repeat
  • **Do not compare yourself to others. Do you. Be you.

Let the coaches decide whether you hit the ball far enough. You focus on staying within you. 


Pitchers:

  • Have fun. It’s baseball.
  • Take nice deep breaths into the belly out through the nose. Often.
  • Show HUGE BODY LANGUAGE
  • See the target 
  • Tell the ball what to do
  • Make each pitch the most important one (no longer focused on what just happened or what might happen next)
  • **Do not compare yourself to others. Do you. Be you.

Your Coaches understand it’s early and aren’t as concerned with velocity as they are with whether you can locate your pitches and repeat your mechanics.


Fielders: 

  • Have fun. It’s baseball.
  • Breathe often.
  • Know where the play’s going. Communicate it. LOUDLY (you’ll attract good attention)
  • Know your a baseball vacuum
  • Want the ball
  • See the ball into your glove
  • Throw it to a specific target on his shirt/jersey 
  • Allow your legs to make the throw while your arm’s along for the ride – smooth
  • **Do not compare yourself to others. Do you. Be you.

Coaches are looking for guys who can make the routine plays consistently. Get lower than the baseball and make it a point to use your legs to get to balls better than anyone on the field.  


What I wish I knew then …


Had I known just a few of these listed above and committed myself to relying on my preparation I at least would’ve showed those scouts the best of what I had. It doesn’t have to be flashy. Allow yourself to keep things simple and be consistently good. 


More on conquering tryouts soon. 

P.S… Yesterday, I mentioned I’d be sharing with you about an opportunity to be held accountable to playing at your best on a consistent basis. Starting next week I am making available 20 spots for players committed to working together for the length of the season Feb-May (amateur) and Feb-Oct (pro).

Are you ready to give yourself the best chance of performing to your potential each time you take the field? Would it be helpful to have a non-judgemental resource to vent to during rough patches? A sounding board for getting your head back where it needs to be?  

Unlimited access.   

Reply to this email for more information about reserving a 15 minute consult to see if we’d be a good fit for eachother. Topics covered (butnot limited to)

  • Setting a Mission for the year (both process and result goals)
  • Dealing with Adversity
  • Building and maintaining confidence through routines, imagery, breathing, past success
  • Dealing with difficult coaches or lack of playing time
  • Breaking down high expectations
  • Handling pressure properly
  • Understanding the good and bad of perfectionism and learning to become an imperfectionist:)
  • And of course, addressing any immediate individual needs