High School Coaches and Tryouts

This year I’m going to be 16 years old and trying out for my high school varsity baseball team as a pitcher. I’m small so I’m pretty sure that won’t help. So I was wondering what do coaches look for? Do they look for bad mechanics but can throw 65 so they can correct them and increase their velocity or do they look for a good mechanics guy who can throw 75s and just stick with him?
And also I’m pretty sure it would but would me being small affect their decision?

Well, they certainly don’t look for bad mechanics, but if they feel they can make adjustments to someone who seems to be a few tweaks away from really improving then they might (and should IMO) take a flyer on the guy. To be quite honest though, and this is painfully true, many coaches at the high school level don’t want to take the time or have the knowledge to really help a young pitcher. I know this isn’t what some want to hear, but from what I’ve encountered and seen growing up, it is true…at least where I’m from.

Size should never matter, and if you impress them enough it probably won’t, but if there are two pitchers of the same ability fighting for the last spot, I’m guessing the taller guy gets picked.

But don’t let any of this discourage you, man. You’re on this site because you want to improve yourself - without anyone even telling you to! That can’t be said for a lot athletes, even some of the most naturally gifted and talented ones. So keep working like you are, asking for help, making the adjustments, etc. and when time comes for tryouts, give it all you got and don’t let there be any regrets as to “what if I had done this” or “If only I had done that”.

Ultimately, the harder you work…

  1. the easier it will be on yourself when tryouts are over - for better or for worse. You’ll know you gave it all you got and there is no shame in that, ever.

  2. the more you are putting control of you making the team in your hands instead of the coach’s

A high school baseball coach can come from population pool with varying degrees of experience and persuasions. Add to this the various levels competition - frosh JV, varsity, and even sub levels, and you get playing environment that does not fit neatly into a one size fits all answer to your question. Here’s a few examples.

At the high end of the spectrum you’ll find a club like the Daphne high school Trojans. The Trojan baseball team is in Daphne, Alabama. Their alumni have gone on to roster the Florida Marlins, Anaheim Angles, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Florida State, Auburn University, Grambling University, and Mississippi State University just to name a few. The coaching staff at Daphne high school includes head coach Joe Hutchins, coach Keith Graham as pitching coach, and coach Mike Harrell as assistant coach.

The skipper of the Daphne high school club has attracted and kept a staff that has both depth and experience to compliment his own personality and style of roster compliments (player personnel).
He also has the support of monetary and administrative resources to support his club and his stewardship - for high school baseball. It’s also obvious that he and his coaching staff extend their expertise beyond the high school experience to include liaison with other institutions, both collegiate and professional. All in all, if your looking for a template for how a high school ball club can be organized and managed - look to the skipper of the Daphne high school and the way he does business. Besides, coach Hutchins, coach Graham, and coach Harrell are the people that you want to listening to when learning this game. Their JV and booster environment are evidence of that.

Now other clubs in high school are not so lucky. One coach can be the main wheel for anything and everything that comes down the pike, whether dictated by the scales of economy or self imposed as an extension of the coach’s personality. Equipment shortages, poor field conditions, and perpetual budget shortfalls can spell agony for some institutions.

So your question is a good one, but it’s not that easy to answer due to other things in orbit.

For example, and in addition to what’s already been stated, some coaches are from a specific background like hitting, base running, infield or outfield defense, while others have absolutely no savvy experience in the game whatsoever - they’re just there because an adult has to be present. Then again, some coaches go with what looks good at a practice sessions, then pencil in a roster from there. No history, background, or prior experience needed.

You will experience some sort of patronage - playing favorites and the upperclassmen game. There are those that believe in giving the graduating seniors as much playing time as possible due to their tenure and temporary status - final year. You’ve got to roll with this one and be patient.

If it’s your first year you’ll probably be looking at freshmen baseball, if your high has such a team, or junior varsity. Some school systems and governing student athletic associations restrict freshmen from competing at the varsity level, while other don’t. In any event, your club may only have one coach, a few adult volunteers, and even some upperclassman (juniors and seniors) acting as assistant coaches. Regardless, go with the flow and do your best to fit in. Your talent will be just as much an unknown to them as will be the type and quality of coaching and team composition to you. However, look around you at these tryout sessions and see if you recognize anyone from your prior years playing ball. How good are these guys? Do they know you? If so, try and buddy-up during the tryouts and show a little “team chemistry”. Coaches feel comfortable with a group of players that seem to get along and mix well.

Best wishes with your baseball experience.

Coach B.