I’ve just received word that Evaluations for our local Cal Ripken youth baseball program at all levels are scheduled for Saturday, March 21, making them less than 2 weeks away! Not much notice, so it’s good that Matt has been training in advance.
Our program is recreational in nature, the same as Little League® (as opposed to AAU). Therefore, everyone who signs up gets to play, hence the need for Evaluations vs. Try-outs. By contrast, the All-Star Tournament season that follows the regular Spring season is the highly competitive dimension of the Cal Ripken program, with players selected by a consensus of the coaches to represent the Town in highly demanding games that lead all the way from Districts and States to Regionals and the World Series.
Depending on whether a local league or club is competitive or recreational, most youth players will be faced with the stressful experience of try-outs (leading to cuts) or evaluations (designed to assess player skills and balance talent across the teams using a draft) before their season even begins. As this is the first chance for players to perform, here are some ways to make the most of it at least 2 weeks ahead of The Day:
- Work on the aerobic base: Start running to build up stamina and get the legs back.
- Be sport-specific: Make sure that any exercises help prepare for baseball, focusing on the required range of motion. Use resistance and repetition rather than large weights.
- Throw with a friend: Loosen up the arm, reacquire the feel of the glove, the ball and the bat.
- First mechanical check-up: Assess game gear and look for any equipment that requires repair or is now undersized. If you need a new glove, get one and start breaking it in. Remember, no excuses at the try-out.
- Test the waters: It is always best to actually drill in advance at the try-out facility to become familiar the surroundings.
- Quick-reflex activities: Work to improve reaction time and reflexes for your position, using appropriate drills 3 times a week for sessions of 20 minutes each that focus on Hitting Mechanics, Throwing Mechanics and Fielding Mechanics. Find a coach to help fine-tune the swing and pitching mechanics. Spend some time in the batting cage or on the practice mound. Take in a clinic or two. But above all, make sure that the mechanics are sound or else you will only be programming bad form that will need correction later.
- Mental preparation: Every second day for 10-15 minutes, review specific game situations in your mind such as double-plays, squeeze bunts, etc. Also review rules. Everyone should review Hit Charts to recall how to deal with pitch counts. Pitchers should also review what pitches to throw in different pitch count situations.
Soon we’ll be on our way!