Apr 15, 2022 • 6 min read
Even though Stephen Woods Jr. plays professional baseball for the Kansas City Royals, he still can speak to what it feels like to attend tryouts and how to best prepare. At 26-years-old, he’s been to his fair share of tryouts; from the early days in travel baseball and summer ball, to college, the minors, and now pro leagues.
TeamSnap got to sit down with Woods and pick his brain about the best practices young baseball players can do to prepare for tryouts. Woods has played about every position over his baseball career, so he spoke to us about preparing as an outfielder, an infielder, and a pitcher.
“Going into tryouts, the biggest things would be, you want the ball,” Woods said. “When you take off for your outfield practice and you have to make your throws to the bag, you have to leave it all out on the field. You have to put everything you got into your arms, and throw it up to the bags. Throw it as hard as you can, at a downward angle, and you want to one-hop the bag if anything.”
For Woods, he thinks getting into the right mindset is key for having a good tryout.
You want to make sure that they understand that you’re in a certain area and you’re accurate with your throws, but it [your throw] has the juice on it.”
“Infield wise, it’s about being quick and accurate,” Woods said. “Early on you want to be smooth and precise. If you throw wide, you know what, it happens, you just have to lock it in for the next one.” Woods also added that above anything else physical, it’s important to control your breathing and get to a place where you’re not stressed or feeling out of control.
“Control your breathing, you don’t want to be stressing out the whole time. Tryouts are meant to be fun, yeah it’s competitive but you should enjoy the competition.” It’s about preparing, and preparing to be out on that stage.
“Jump out into that stage and be prepared to throw all your hard work out there,” he said.
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“Pitching wise, sometimes they don’t even look for the outcome, but they want to know what you have,” Woods said. Woods explains that a lot of pitching is getting into a mindset that it is just you and your catcher. Woods works with young aspiring pitchers and tells them, “When you go there and you step foot on the mound get mad, act like they stole your dog and you need to hit that catchers glove.”
“Put everything on that mound and throw your curve balls as hard as you can throw it. It’s a mindset that got me to where I am.”
Baseball tryouts all run differently, depending on what level and what league you’re a part of. For Woods, he spoke to the tryouts he’s been to. He explained the format of tryouts and how he mentally prepared for the different stages.
“The ones I’ve been to, infield, then outfield go first. After that, they go to the cages. In the cages, they hit a little bit, then the pitchers get numbers.The pitchers get loose then get called one-by-one. One after another the pitchers go to the mound and face different hitters. There is a full infield and a full outfield behind you. The want to treat it as a game as much as possible and see guys play in positions throughout,” Woods said.
“When you get out on that hill and you have to take in the moment.”
Woods’ advice for preparing for tryouts can be summed up in as enjoy the moment, prepare for game-like scenarios, and put yourself in a mindset that gets you game ready.