Tip for conducting an all-star tryout

All-star selections are coming up in leagues everywhere. Some leagues will simply select players based on kids and or coaches/board member votes. They will not hold a tryout. Other organizations do conduct tryouts to determine who makes the team. This is especially necessary when players from different divisions, (e.g. 10 year-olds in Majors together with 9 and 10 year-olds in Minors) are competing for the same roster spots. One way to run the tryout is to line everyone up and hit them numerous ground balls and have a coach throw batting practice to each player. It is possible to determine the 13 best players in this fashion, but there are always going to be issues. First, there are many kids who look like Albert Pujols against a coach throwing at a comfortable speed, but many of these same players will not fare nearly as well when facing another kid their age on the mound. If I’m a dad watching my son struggle against a coach pitching, I wouldn’t feel like he got a fair shake if that is how the team was selected.

Here is a suggestion: Run a live scrimmage. If you happen to have nearly equal numbers of Majors and Minors players trying out, all the better. Put the Majors players on one team and the Minors, or Farm, players on another. The reasoning for this is that it is likely most, if not all of the Majors players will make the team since they played at a higher level all year, and the few remaining spots will be filled in by the best Minors kids. What better way to see which of those Minors kids to select than to let them get nine or ten at bats against Majors pitchers? Maybe more importantly, by doing this you take all of the subjectivity out of the selection process. If a kid goes oh for nine in a two-day tryout, it is kind of hard to argue that he should have made the team. Even if you are not dividing Majors vs. Minors, the aspect of keeping a score book helps you deflect questions from parents demanding to know why their son or daughter was not chosen. And, we all know that sometimes players do things to help teams “under the radar.” You may look back after two days and see a player who went largely unnoticed because he didn’t get any extra base hits or make spectacular plays, but see in the book that he got on base nearly every at-bat and was solid defensively. In all of these situations running a scrimmage, instead of just hitting grounders and throwing BP, works to your benefit.

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