I think alot of people have this perception that open tryouts are good way to gain exposure and possibly land a spot on a collegiate team.
Here's the truth:
- Most college programs only carry 1-3 players that they have acquired via an open tryout
- Sadly, most programs run open tryouts not because they want to, but because they are required to
- A few good players DO come to these things, but as a rule, for every one solid guy that shows, there are 15 that don't belong there.
- Coaches don't hate or dislike these tryouts, but they rarely look forward to them.
- The odds of anyone making a good team at an open tryout are probably only about 1 in 30
First of all, start looking for workouts in the summer prior to your senior year. By January, 50% of the scholarships will be signed and all but maybe 10% will have already been offered. When you find a school that you like, contact a coach (head or assistant, most programs are recruiting with everyone on their staff so who you talk to doesn't matter much)
and ask if there is a day you an come workout with THEIR TEAM. You do not want a tryout. You want to workout with their team. Big difference. When you're calling coaches, here's a tip: Call between 8AM and 11AM. After that, most of us are grabbing a bite and then heading to the ballfield for the day. If you don't get an answer, leave a message and send an email.
Your goal should be to get on the field with the team of the schools your interested, and you want to do this before mid October if possible. If you can't get it done by mid October, try to get a workout in by mid-march. Can you still find a place after that?? Sure, but odds are you won't, and odds are even worse that you'll get a scholarship or on a team that really needs you.
"Are there any fool proof methods of finding a team??"
Of course. Be awesome. No, seriously, play for a good program in a good league against good teams and play very well. If your high school team is only average or is in a weaker classification or region, find a good summer program run by someone who isn't a used car salesman and put up great numbers.
Either way, high school or summer, if you play for a program that competes for championships or is at least in a very tough league, you'll get seen.... If you play well, coaches will come after you with the same enthusiasm that you'd go after them.
"If none of that works, should I just forget about it and not bother with a tryout??"
Well, not really, but it all depends. Were you one of the three best players on your high school team? Can you run a sub 6.8 60 or mash bleezies(that's slang for homers at Chatt Valley)? Do you throw 85MPH+? If the answer to any of those is yes, then you should absolutely go to open tryouts. Some guys DO fall between the cracks and some other guys never get a fair shake in high school and just need a shot.
We've had a few guys make it at Chatt Valley against all odds from open tryouts. One of them, a (now) former player named Ryan Noelte ran a 6.6, smashed balls all over the place and threw 88 of the bump 3 years ago at our open tryout, despite having played only sparingly in high school. Why he didn't play, I'm not sure, but he ended up hitting .401 as a freshman for us and starting in center field. After another outstanding year this season, he has signed a scholarship to play at Valdosta State University in the fall.
So you see, sometimes great stories do come from long shot tryouts, but I wouldn't recommend relying on it happening to you.