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Reducing Tryout Anxiety

Mike Scioscia
Manager, Anaheim Angels

Spring training is a great time of the year as players are relaxed, preparing for another year. The excitement of the upcoming season helps ease the usual aches and pains of getting a body in shape to perform the skills needed to compete. Major league players aren't the only ones going through training to get in shape. Younger players must prepare for what will be a long, taxing season for a young and developing body.

With tryouts right around the corner, it's important for kids to start getting the "cobwebs" out of their winter bodies. Start slow with some easy stretching, targeting key areas of the arm, trunk and legs. The trunk is a very important part of all athletic moves in baseball, so it is a good idea to start some form of trunk and abdomen strengthening exercises such as sit-ups and push-ups. (These are my kids' favorite before bedtime!)

Easy long toss, with a focus on solid mechanics and a nice easy throwing motion, is the best thing for an arm of any age at this time of the year. Don’t go back any further than a youngster can comfortably reach his target with some nice arc on the throw. Long toss is a great builder of stamina and will form a great base when players are ready to step up their throwing as the season gets closer. (Major league players will long toss on a daily basis, even through the season.)

Concentrate on basic baseball activities. Take some easy swings and "soft toss" leading up to batting practice as players' bodies reacclimate with baseball. There is time to address individual skill work after a youngster has had time to work through some of the rust of winter. Try to get as much of a jump on this as you can (at least twice a week if possible) as the more time a player has to get ready, the less chance there is of injury.

Tryouts can be particularly nerve-wracking to a player (and parents!). Place positive mental images in a youngster's head to help him relax and show his (or her) game. Remember, he doesn’t have to be anything but himself at tryouts. His best effort is all that can be expected, regardless of results. Make it a fun experience for your kids and they will take if the rest of the way!

As the season approaches, I will be giving some deeper insights into various aspects of the game that emphasize the fundamentals needed to be successful. Always remember... baseball is supposed to be fun for the kids. (And parents too!) Do your part to make sure every kid on your team gets the experience he or she deserves.


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