Baseball Magazine

Baseball Tryouts: Current Ability Vs Potential

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
Probably the worst part about coaching is tryouts.  Telling a player that there is not room for him is not a fun conversation.  Coaches love the game and sometimes they have to tell a player, who also loves the game, that their abilities will not allow them to be successful at our level.  That news can be hard to accept by players and their parents.  
Click HERE for information I give to players and parents at the end of tryouts. 

Nobody likes to be told they aren't good enough.  However, explaining to a player or parent that the player's running speed or ability to make a play on a ground ball falls short is easier because you can use actual times using a stopwatch.  But what happens when your decision to keep a player is based on subjective information and not numbers?  Opinion not fact?   Here's an example of what I mean.

Player Ability Rating (out of 10)

A 6

B 5

Which player do you keep?  Obviously, you keep Player A because he is a better player.  The numbers during tryouts prove it, right?
Not so fast.  Now let's add "potential" to the mix.  

Player Ability Potential

A 6 7

B 5 9

Now who do you keep?  Not so easy now is it.  Everything else being equal (grade, position, throwing arm, etc.) most coaches would keep Player B.  But if they do, here's what's coming ... 
"Everyone knows that my son is a little faster, throws a little harder, and had a better batting average last year than Player B, yet Player B made the team and my kid didn't!"
"There must be some kind of favoritism or nepotism going on here!" 
The hard part is that players and parents have a valid point about which one is a better player.  But that's only if they look at current ability levels.  Parents and players naturally focus on past performance and current ability.  As coaches, we look at current ability, future potential, and not so much what they've done in the past.  We are not looking at the same thing.  Coaches have to take the big picture into account for the good of the program's future.  Sure, I want to be good today but I also want to be good two or three years down the road as well.  Therefore, we can't avoid potential even if there is no objective numbers to prove it.

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