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How to Prepare for High School Baseball Tryouts and the Season
Baseball Third Base
My son is preparing for his first high school baseball tryout/practice; to state the obvious he is pretty nervous. We recently went to the park to work on some of the minor drills that he will probably be expected to do to show the high school coach that he can compete at this level.
First things first, I have no doubt that my son will make the team because he is a smart ballplayer and can help the team out by being able to play six of the nine defensive positions on the field. He just turned fifteen but is starting to really figure out how his six foot 145 pound body functions. For me, being a ballplayer when I grew up, it is cool to see him try something and succeed. Watching him pitch is exciting, his curve ball is already way better than mine when I pitched at this age; I played first base and it is sometimes difficult to catch that darn thing and I was exposed to some poor throws during my career.
We live in a rural school district that has a small student head count compared to the other three “big” high schools in our community. Since his school is smaller they will only field one baseball team for the entire school. It may sound like the competition to make the team will be intense but it could be the exact opposite depending on the talent levels of the other players. We know that last year’s team lost six out of the ten players to graduation.
When we were at the park I started to wonder how many other players were outside trying to shake off the winter baseball rust before tryouts. I have heard a few stories about how players show up at tryouts noticeably out of shape and struggle to keep up with the exercises the coaches put them through.
I remember last year when we started our season with Little League in their junior division (the junior division consists of thirteen and fourteen year old players on a full size major league infield) some of the guys were winded after our first practice and we didn’t even do much.
So what is a player to do to prepare themselves for the rigors of starting their next baseball season? I have a few ideas that may help these players give themselves a respectable head start and avoid being that kid who can’t keep up and is off to the side with his hands on his knees trying to catch their breath.
Exercises for Flexibility
First things first stretch your body. When you are camped out in front of the TV, computer or video game system your body is obviously not getting the proper stretching it needs to do any athletic. Pay close attention to your hamstrings, groin and quads. With all of the running and lateral movement drills in your near future you want to get your legs as limber as you can.
Get outside and jog. It doesn’t matter if you jog at the park, down the street or even if you stay in your driveway; just get out and move! You are probably going to be doing laps around the entire baseball field so get used to jogging. Don’t worry about the sweat that is why showers were invented. If you hate and despise running at least ride your bike or scooter or whatever you have available. The key is getting your body accustomed to moving around.
Throwing a Baseball
You will be throwing a baseball at practice (no kidding right?) so get that arm moving. If you haven’t thrown for a while start slow from a close distance with your partner. Under no circumstance should you try throwing as hard as you can if you haven’t thrown for a while and don’t even think about snapping off some curve balls just to see if you can still do it. Your arm needs time to build up its strength and overdoing it too early can lead to problems that may linger all season long.
Hydration for Athletes
Another detail that seems to be easily overlooked is hydration. If you have not been very active jumping into an exercise regimen can lead to your body becoming dehydrated. Always keep water, or a sports drink, with you when exercising but remember that you can also drink water before hand to keep your hydration levels up. I’m certainly not advising you to down a couple of water bottles and then go run around the block a few times but you can drink water earlier in the day in preparation of an afternoon workout.
In an effort to keep my son in some kind of shape I had him play on my men's slow-pitch softball league over the winter. The game speed is way different than baseball but it allowed him to keep throwing and play some defense in the field as well as running the bases.
Without winter baseball hibernation my son has been able to stay in some kind of playing shape and was able to get into a flow at the park pretty quickly. I will be taking him to the tryouts and I plan on hanging around, if they let me; I am excited to see how he does out there.