This Softball Tryout Process Has Gotten Out of Hand
Posted by Ken Krause
So there I was a couple of weeks ago (early June 2022), scrolling through Facebook mindlessly (as if there is another way), when suddenly I saw it: a notification about upcoming tryouts for the 2023 travel season.
“What the what?” I thought. The high school season hasn’t even ended for everyone here in Illinois, they’re still playing the Womens College World Series, and we are just starting to get into the heart of tournament season for most teams.
How in the name of Jessica Mendoza can teams be advertising for 2023 already?
But that’s what it has come to now. In the arms race to capture every potential recruit before anyone else can get their grubby mitts on them teams are now looking to replace their current players, or programs are looking to add more teams to their rosters, before they’ve even gotten a chance to see what their current teams/players can do.
I’m sorry, but this is insanity people.
When did players and teams become so disposable that the actual season you’re in doesn’t matter? What’s next? Are we going to start seeing ads for 2025 tryouts in December 2022?
I thought the point of all of this was to play the games. In order to play the games you need to focus on the here and now.
“Take it one game at a time” we always tell our players. But what message does advertising tryouts for NEXT season at the beginning of THIS season send?
Here’s an idea. Let’s focus on winning the current inning, the current game, the current tournament, etc.
Of course, that sounds like a pretty old-fashioned approach these days. Because it seems like the goal isn’t to win anymore; it’s to land the most players in college, even if they have no idea how to compete once they get there. That’s the college coaches’ problem.
Here’s an idea. Rather than continuously pushing up the tryout/player recruitment process, why not focus on the season you’re in right now?
Instead of thinking up enticements to draw new (and presumably better) players, why not think about how to help your current players become better?
Focus on ways to help them become better as individuals and as a group. Look for ways to build their self confidence.
Teach them the game. Not just the basic stuff they need to know, such as which field is right field or when the dropped third strike rule is in effect, but how to read a hitter’s swing from the outfield or when to take the extra base on a line drive to right.
Most of all, treat your current players like human beings instead of chess pieces for your own glory. Understand as best you can what they’re going through as individuals, especially in the most vulnerable teen years where today’s game or practice has the potential to be the best part of their days.
Do all of that and they will not only run through a wall for you, they’ll want to keep coming back and doing it, year after year. Then you won’t have to advertise for next year at the beginning of this year.
You can’t do all of that, however, if your eyes are always focused on the future.
Let’s live for today, as the Grassroots would say.
Can we all make a pact that next year’s ads don’t start appearing until the current season for your team, whatever that is, is three-quarters over? I don’t think that’s unreasonable. If everyone agrees no one will feel the pressure to jump the gun so they don’t end up with the leftovers.
Give your kids the chance to enjoy their softball experience today instead of worrying about where they’re going to play next year. The entire sport will be better for it.