In the Northern Hemisphere it’s tryout season! (I’m pretty sure you folks in the deep south are about to start your Fall and Winter training, why not come visit us up here and play a few tournaments?)
I’m often asked questions about tryouts and how one should prepare for a tryout or tryouts. It’s important to understand how tryouts are run and what you can do to improve your chances.
Firstly, most of the team has been decided upon before the first tryout. There are a small number of spots open for the team and those spots are what you’re fighting for. How few? If you really think about it then for an Open or Women’s team it may be four spots and for a Mixed team it’ll be two spots per gender. You’re also fighting for a spot on the team and not the starting lines on O or D. Should you make the team you’ll get to play in the less important games and you’ll still need to earn your spot on the starting lines. However, that’s another conversation and we’re here to talk about how to get on the team in the first place.
As I said in my previous post: “You are always being watched.” That means how you play, and more importantly practice, all year around reflects on you. If you are bad at making a particular throw then learn how to throw it when you’re warming up or when you’re out throwing with friends. You need to do that throw when you’re doing drills that are designed to teach that throw. The repetitive practice in a small time frame is very important. What you should not do is try to learn it during a practice scrimmage, game, or even a league game. Why? First, you’re not practicing the throw you’re learning it. During scrimmages, games, or league games you’re supposed to be practicing decision making and teamwork rather than throwing. If you cannot make a throw during a game and you do it anyways then what does it say about you? At what point can others trust that you’ll make good decisions? For goodness sakes, learn your throws before trying to practice them in a game of any kind. One caveat is when it’s pickup or a fun game. If you’re playing a low level game then you must try to take the edge off of everything you do. You should fool around but your responsibility, as a touring player and ambassador of the sport, is to provide opportunities for others. So in a fun game you will actually be the most consistent player and you should be passing to others so they can pass the most. But beware, the line between fun and competitive is crossed earlier and earlier as the numbers in our sport grow.
Thirdly, attend as many tryouts as you can. That means go to all of the tryouts that you can even if you’re not trying out for the team. In my part of the World we have several high level Women’s, Mixed, Open, and Masters teams. I always suggest going to all of the tryouts for the experience and also for the evaluation. By knowing where you stack up you can now work on defined targets. You also receive feedback indicating what you are doing well and what you’re not doing well. You also receive yearly measurement sticks of how you compare to the field and whether your hard work in the last year has paid off. Do not underestimate the experience of tryouts.
Fourthly, ask for help. Engage team leaders and coaches. Get better by throwing with them and cutting against them. Watch how the best players get open and emulate that. Recognize that your body type gives you advantages regardless of your body type. There are successful people at the highest levels of the sport with all sorts of body types. The only thing holding you back is your mental game. Your mental game is what tells you to keep training after the season ends rather than taking it easy. Your mental game is what tells you not to make a throw. Your mental game is what gets you up early on weekends to go out and throw for a full day. Watch the best players, they are always working hard year around. They have a game plan year around and in many cases they have game plans going out for four year cycles.
The reason you’re not on a particular team is because of your mental game and that you’re not in a competitive mode all year around. It can be an imposing expectation to always be in a competitive frame of mind year around but that’s the new standard. If you’re not preparing year around then somebody else is and they’ll take your spot on the team.
I know all of the above sounds rather cynical and many would say that’s not for them. I agree with that. I’m a transient player and my concentration is in other places these days. However, there are many of you that want to play high level and there are realities that you need to live with.