The following steps will help youth baseball coaches coordinate a successful tryout for youth baseball.

Prior to tryouts

  • Advertise your tryout schedule on the league website, team website, local newspapers and word of mouth.
  • Include your phone number and / or email on the team website.
  • Make yourself available to talk to parents of potential players prior to the tryouts via phone or email. When parents of potential players call, use this time to sell the program and get an idea of the potential fit of the player.
  • Increase the odds of attracting a lot of kids to your tryouts by scheduling three or four tryouts dates. You will find that some of your scheduled dates conflict with the tryout dates of other teams or the schedules of the athletes you are trying to attract. This gives you flexibility if it rains. Also, a coach may be able to determine the skill level of a player after one tryout, but it is difficult to determine the level of commitment, leadership or passion of a player after one tryout.
  • Allow a player to have a private tryout if they cannot make the scheduled ones.
  • Allow for pre-registration via email or website to save time at the tryouts.
  • Ask players to wear a numbered jersey so the evaluators can easily identify players during the tryout.
  • Create an evaluation spreadsheets and attached them to clip boards for the evaluators to capture information about each player.
  • Have a pre-meeting with your evaluators to align to goals and objectives.

During Tryouts

  • Have a volunteer at the registration table to quickly process potential players. The coach needs to be on the field.
  • Capture information in an organized fashion on evaluation spreadsheets.
  • Have all the potential players properly warm up their arms. Do not allow players to throw full speed without warming up even the players who show up late.
  • Evaluate all the potential players at every position. A prior coach may not have seen the potential in a player at a certain position. Do not assume a player cannot play a certain position based on appearance.
  • Give the kids enough pitches to get their timing down during batting practice.
  • Evaluate the potential player’s ability to hit pitches of varying locations and speeds. Some kids can mash fastballs all day, but cannot adjust to off-speed pitches.
  • Make the players you want feel welcome. Also, have your current players make the top players feel welcome. You may need to sell the top prospects on your team.
  • If you have disgruntled current players who may be in jeopardy of losing their spot, keep them out of the groups with the top prospects. These players may criticize the program to new recruits to dissuade players from stealing their spot.
  • Evaluate all aspects of the game.
    • Baserunning speed and technique,
    • Ability to play all the infield positions (except lefties)
    • Ability to track a fly ball and to throw accurately from the outfield
    • Ability to hit various pitches to all fields
    • Ability to bunt
    • Ability to pitch and to throw pickoffs
    • Ability to play catcher (footwork, arm strength, blocking, etc.).
    • Game situation knowledge
  • Keep players moving from station to station. Have four or five coaches keep the tryout moving efficiently.

After tryouts

  • Call or email each player. Put some thought into the rejection letters. Let each player know as soon as possible so that the player can make other arrangements.
  • Have current players send encouraging text messages to the top recruits.

The tryout process is part evaluation and part selling. Coaches need to attract talent to the tryouts, evaluate the talent properly and then convince the top recruits that their program is the best option for the player.