Ten Tips to Tryout for the Team


The snow is melting, the birds are singing, and winter is coming to an end.  Spring has sprung and softball and baseball season has arrived!  For many, the start of the season means tryouts for school teams or select teams.  Whether this is your first time trying out for a team or if you are an experience veteran, below are some pointers for how to carry yourself and to put your best foot forward as you take the field and show your coaches and teammates what you are made of.

  1. Hustle. Always.  Softball is a crazy game and you will have good days and bad days.  You can’t always control your results on the field, but you can always control your effort. Run from drill to drill and never stop moving.  The drills will show your skills, but your hustle will show your heart.
  2. Be prepared. Make sure you have your glove, your helmet, your water, and everything you need when you walk into practice.  When it is your turn in a drill, give it your full attention.  Be noticed for your play on the field and for your attitude… not for being inattentive or unprepared.
  3. Play big. Tryouts aren’t the time to play it safe.  Swing away and show your strength.  Dive for balls and demonstrate your courage.  Put some extra juice on your throws to highlight your aggressiveness.  Give it everything you’ve got, and leave it all on the field.
  4. Dress like a ballplayer. When trying to earn a spot on the team and show the coaches and the evaluators that you belong, throw on a jersey, lace up the cleats, and pull up those softball pants and socks.  Look like you’ve been there before and show that you’re a player.
  5. Wear something with your name on it. Coaches are human and tryouts are short, so make it easy for them to put a name to the face.  Your play should do most of the talking, but go out of your way to be memorable.
  6. Talk to your coaches. Coaches want to see what type of player that you are on the field, but also the kind of person that you will be in the dugout.  Demonstrate your maturity, ask questions, and stay engaged.  Softball is more mental than physical, and show your coaches that you want to increase your knowledge of the game as much as your skills.
  7. Be a team player. Don’t get caught up in competing with your peers and your potential teammates.  Focus on doing your personal best and encourage others to do the same.  Compliment good play, share advice, and pick up others if they get down.  While not everyone can make the team, focus on what’s best for the group and be the consummate teammate and a good sport.
  8. Be a leader. Volunteer to be first in the drills.  Demonstrate techniques.  Carry the team bag.  Help others get ready and lead by example.  Help the coaches run the drills.  Pick up softballs after batting practice. Be the first one on the field and the last one off.  Be the player that others look up to and respect.
  9. Take failure in stride. You are going to make mistakes.  Ground balls will go through your legs, you will take some ugly swings, and some throws will fly wildly out of your hands.  Smile, punch your glove, and say “Can I try that again, Coach?”  Coaches don’t want to see temper tantrums… they want to see maturity and confidence.  Embrace the fact that you will sometimes fail, and focus your energy into getting better.
  10. Have fun. At the end of the day, you are playing a game and it should be fun. Enjoy the sound of the crack of the bat, the laughs with your teammates, and the thrill of the sport.  You should play this game because you love it.  If you feel yourself being stressed, frustrated, or angry, take a deep breath and remember that this isn’t a job or a chore… it’s a game.  Smile, laugh, and PLAY ball!

When all is said and done, if you make the team, accept the honor humbly and support your friends who don’t make the cut.  If you don’t make the team, give yourself some time and space to feel that disappointment. But don’t give up!  You love this game, so keep practicing, play summer ball, and continue to get better.  Good luck to all the girls and boys trying out for spring sports, hustle hard, and leave it all on the field!


Fathers, Daughters, and Career Advice


My oldest daughter, Mara, is in junior high this year, and I am still reeling from the fact that she is growing up so fast.  This has further fanned the flames of what has become a “Year of Reflection” for me (sounds more aspirational than “mid-life crisis”), as I have turned 40, changed careers, and taken many a trip down memory lane.  I have beseeched her consistently in her young life to “not be in a hurry to grow up” because frankly there is no better job than being a kid.  But as she starts to enter this world of young adulthood, her thoughts and our conversations are inevitably turning more toward her rapidly approaching future. As such, for the first time we had an actual conversation of…

So what do you want to do when you grow up?” 

First, she sarcastically retorted, “I don’t know, Dad… what do YOU want to do when YOU grow up?”  Valid point, but she was stalling.  As her mind wrapped around my question, I could see the wheels turning and the emotions conflicting.  Part of her seemed to be clinging tightly to her childhood, another feeling that fear of becoming a grown up, and yet another sparkling with the excitement of adventures ahead.  Finally, with a look of peace she said, “Dad… I am still only 12 and I like waaaay too many things to even begin to decide what I want to do when I grow up.  What I do know though, is that whatever I choose will be something that I love to do, that I’m good at, and that helps people.  And with those simple words, she had concisely and insightfully given a better answer than I could have imagined. 

As I have coached and managed people, businesses, and projects over the years, it is a simple, consistent, and amazing truth that these three elements are core to achieving success and fulfillment.  Whether it is a career path, a creative idea, or a new project, we often neglect one or more of these elements in making choices and decisions: 

  • Talent: A skill or core competency that is a step above “competition”
  • Passion: An inherent love or drive that radiates from within
  • Benefit:  Making a difference for someone(s), by providing a product, service, or idea that they truly need or want.

This isn’t rocket science in concept, but is surprisingly uncommon in practice.

As individuals and teams walk through my door each day, looking for breakthrough concepts, disruptive ideas, and to growing new business, the ones that inevitably go on to be successful can say YES to the following questions: “Are we good at this?”, “Am I emotionally invested?”, and “Does it make a difference?”

Of course, by no means am I saying that “making money” is not important (I certainly don’t intend on my daughter living in my basement forever!). But the money should be an output that arises naturally from infusing innovation with these three factors.  In a world that too often encourages action before reflection, let’s take some advice from the world’s 12 year olds and stop to run our ideas and decisions through these filters.  It could make a world of difference.

Note: I originally published this blog at http://www.upstream360.com.