The Huddle, Issue #2: Trying Out

Posted: May 20, 2008 03:45 PM

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Trying Out

Tuesday, May 28th, 2008


(Note: the following issue of The Huddle is a reproduction of an article originally published on

Spring brings the climax of the college season, as well as the beginning of club. Most club teams hold some sort of tryout; without adding new talent they are sure to fall off of the map sooner rather than later.

At this point in the year, thousands of ambitious players are cleating up to show that they are worth a precious roster spot. We asked our panel to give us their thoughts on the tryout process in general. Their answers demonstrate the complex nature of tryouts, both from the tryout's perspective as well as from the viewpoint of the decision-makers.

If you are trying out for a team, or even if you are interested in how captains of various teams approach their tryout process...keep reading. The responses show a commitment to improving each team, but in a variety of different ways.

Below are several of the sub-questions we asked to provide structure for the panel's answers:

  • Do young players have any chance of making the team as an offensive player? What about as a handler? As a hucker? What would they have to show you to prove their worth?
  • Is calm, conservative play better? Or do you want to see highlight reel moves, throws, and catches?
  • Say you are a young player with a specialty throw (something out of the normal repetoire). You are confident in that throw, but it doesn't really fit easily into a team's offense (rather, they could change how they play to take advantage of this talent).
  • Should you show this in tryout scrimmages?
  • What is most important: practices or tournaments?
  • How should tryouts behave and carry themselves? Some captains and coaches love people that ask a ton of questions, and others want people that want a lot of feedback. Or give their opinions. Or are silent, strong teammates. What are you looking for? Does the personality of a player figure large into whether they can make the team? What about an obnoxious player with tremendous talent?
  • Is there anything about the tryout process that you think teams should do more often?
  • Does everyone try out, or are returning players safe?
  • How long are your tryouts? Is this optimal?

For everyone trying out this year, we hope the answers to these questions from our writers proves to be helpful. If you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch with us at

Issue #2: Comments/Discussion Thread


  • Thoughts from Chris Ashbrook
    ArticleBlock Ashbrook

    • Do young players have any chance of making the team as an offensive player?

      Absolutely. There are a number of college players that have now played on club teams while still in college (Watson, Heijman, Cahill, Gibson, etc), some while in high school. These players are usually the best offensive players on their teams and have been to college nationals, at least once, if not multiple times. Although they may have inexperience on the club seen, they have crunch time experience and are able to eventually translate that to the club scene.

      What about as a handler? As a hucker? What would they have to show you to prove their worth?

      If you are a handler, you must be composed and make the right throw. This means understanding what the offense is trying to accomplish and what your role is in accomplishing this goal. Upon understanding the goal, the second part is to actually make the decision to make the throw that completes the goal of your offense. Finally, the handler should know the throws in their repertoire.

      Understanding what the offense is trying to accomplish and your role to me is key. By understanding the offense, you are able to position yourself for the dump cut (or any cut) that will allow the thrower to make an easy completion and retain the disc. After receiving the disc, this means that you know where other people will be cutting so that you can keep the disc moving to your big throwers.

      When watching handlers, I am ok with turnovers during tryouts when the handler made the the throw easy for the person with the disc and subsequently made the right decision in where to throw the disc. Sometimes the throw isn't complete, it happens to everyone. However, if the throw is habitually not completed, catching the disc and making the right decision will take you only so far in the tryout process.

      What I am not ok with is:

      1. When the handler looks off a throw that should have been made within the frame of the receiver; or
      2. Tries a throw that is not in their repertoire (even if completed). This shows to me a lack of confidence in their throwing ability, not understanding the offense, and/or lack of decision-making abilities.
      For a hucker, this is usually a down field player. They need to have the ability to gain yards and time their cuts. More importantly, they must be able to make a consistently good choice and throw.

      Note, not every huck is a good huck. This should be made known to the hucker and if they continue to make hucks that are low percentage as they fall out of the framework of your offense, they may not make the team.

      Is calm, conservative play better? Or do you want to see highlight reel moves, throws, and catches?

      I want to see the player play to the best of his skills, abilities, and within the framework of the offense. The highlight reel plays will be a byproduct of doing so.

      Say you are a young player with a specialty throw (something out of thenormal repertoire). You are confident in that throw, but it doesn't really fit easily into a team's offense (rather, they could change how they play to take advantage of this talent). Should you show this in tryout scrimmages?

      I would recommend throwing it only when the situation dictates. To throw it in any other circumstance, most likely will be a very low percentage throw and probably be looked down upon. However, if you are able to identify the situations in which the throw is highly effective and has a high completion percentage I would be looking for a way to implement it only in certain circumstances (such as a stopped disc).

      What is most important; practices or tournaments?

      Practices are more important. Here the captains are able to explain and work on the skills that are important to their offensive and defensive and philosophies. This gives the captains the opportunity to view which players can and will fit into their style of play. It also gives them the opportunity to identify the weaknesses of the tryouts within their structure.

      The tournament should be more of a confirmation that the player either is capable, or is incapable of performing their role on the team.

      How should tryouts behave and carry themselves? Some captains and coaches love people that ask a ton of questions, and others want people that want a lot of feedback. Or give their opinions. Or are silent, strong teammates. What are you looking for? Does the personality of a player figure large into whether they can make the team? What about an obnoxious player with tremendous talent?

      Always ask questions, always ask for feedback. Most of the captains I know are more than willing to provide that feedback.

      In ultimate, I have found that personalities always figure into whether or not the player makes the team. Two players of equal talent, the one who fits in personality wise with the team will most likely make it over someone that does not fit in well personality wise.

      Does everyone try out, or are returning players safe?

      On every team, you know pretty much that the top 10 (or possibly more) will be returning. So it is then up to the captains to let those players who are on the bubble know and tell them what they need to do to make the team.

      In general, when evaluating the bottom half of the roster, the question I ask is whether or not the tryout would significantly improve the team over a returning player. If the answer is no, then the returner will most likely retain his spot. The reason for this is that the returner has history with the team, understands the offense, defense, and his role on the team. There are a number of intangibles the returner could possibly bring back. But there is always the flip side, so you can never take your position on the team as a returner for granted.

      How long are your tryouts? Is this optimal?

      6 - 8 practices and includes a tournament so that you can confirm your thoughts on the player.

      Is there anything about the tryout process that you think teams should do more often?

      During the tryout process I would like to see teams work on the basic skillset of their tryouts (and their current players included). Then work the skillset into their offensive and defensive philosophies. This allows you to identify areas in which the players excel and where they are lacking.

      For instance, you might run a hucking drill to see who can actually huck with consistency. You would then explain how the huck drill fits into your offensive philosophy and the types of looks you want to take. This allows you to identify those who can huck, then actually huck in the framework of your offense during scrimmages and tournaments (confirmation) successfully.
  • Answers To All Of These Questions
    ArticleBlock Beatty

    • Do young players have any chance of making the team as an offensive player? What about as a handler? As a hucker? What would they have to show you to prove their worth?

      Sure they do and it depends on their skill set. It's more than likely easier for one to make it as a hucker first; pretty much everyone can huck it. Making it as a primary handler (a "1") is somewhat tougher.

      Is calm, conservative play better? Or do you want to see highlight reel moves, throws, and catches?

      I prefer a combination of the two which is possible, but most players can't pull off the balancing act.

      Say you are a young player with a specialty throw (something out of the normal repetoire). You are confident in that throw, but it doesn't really fit easily into a team's offense (rather, they could change how they play to take advantage of this talent). Should you show this in tryout scrimmages?

      I think so but obviously not all the time and on those turns your defense has to be prettier than your offense was ugly.

      What is most important: practices or tournaments?

      That's not quite a quick answer like the others; but I'll go with practice. Tournaments are the luxury.

      How should tryouts behave and carry themselves? Some captains and coaches love people that ask a ton of questions, and others want people that want a lot of feedback. Or give their opinions. Or are silent, strong teammates. What are you looking for? Does the personality of a player figure large into whether they can make the team? What about an obnoxious player with tremendous talent?

      Tryouts should be determined, with a feel of confidence about them. They should be putting out there what they think the last 10% of 100% is. That measure has never failed me in the past when critiquing others/tryouts. It's probably a collective thinking among those tryouts, in their drive to the site: "I'm gonna give these guys 100% today." Okay, great; but what's that last 10% mean to you? What am I looking for? I'm looking for the casual approach or an approach that's mostly callow.

      If personality mattered, or mattered greatly, there'd be a great many savage seven squads out there. Aren't most tremendously talented players obnoxious? For those that fit that description as a tryout, I think that's part of their talent and it's something they can work on over the long haul of the season if they survive the cut. And of course this comes down to personnel management and is one of the reason why being a captain can be so damned thankless.

      For your team, does everyone try out, or are returning players safe? How long are your tryouts? Is this optimal? Is there anything about the tryout process that you think teams should do more often?

      Up until a few season ago, returning players were safe on the team that I competed for. It may have been 2006 when returners had to actually make the team. Funny how some decide to play coed when the word gets out. Tryouts usually run once a week for three weeks; but there's also a weekly pickup or competitive scrimmage during this time as well. Also, there's an early tournament, such as terminus where interested tryouts are invited.

      It's difficult because of the tourney calendar, but good club teams should make themselves available to college teams early in the semester: provide clinics to teams within their section. 2 or 3 times early in the semester to accommodate all the teams is what I'm thinking. I know it'd be tough because of all the tournaments, but at least some of the second tier teams could attend, they have ballers too.
  • Play To Your Best, Tone Down The Rest
    ArticleBlock Burruss

    • You have to ask yourself, "What do I do that is great?" This is your ticket onto a team. For most young players, this is blue-collar Ultimate: tough D, swing passes and safe choices. If what you have to offer is something different (big throws, great recievership), then showcase those skills.

      The two quickest ways to get yourself cut are poor atheleticism (nothing much to be done about that) and poor choices with the disc. A lot of tryouts get in trouble by failing to recognize that the definition of a good choice has changed. A good choice for Eastern Wyoming State (Go Fighting Pronghorns!) is a piss-poor choice for Bravo. Aim for zero turns. I mean zero.
  • Things To Focus On At Any Level
    ArticleBlock Graham

    • Here are my six recommendations to anyone who is trying out for a team of any level:

      1. Be on time and have all of the appropriate equipment for the tryout.

      2. Relax — tryouts are a high stress process for everyone involved, but as a captain/coach I'm looking to see how players handle themselves throughout the process. Tryouts are a decent representation of how players will handle high-stress situations during tournaments.

      3. Know what you can and can't do — Before you even get to the tryout think about your game, what throws you are confident in, how you have been taught to mark, what assets you think you can bring to the table. Also, remind yourself what you aren't so great at. At the tryout put yourself in situations in which you are likely to succeed. Show off what you can do. Conversely, don't try to do too much. If you don't have a deep flick, don't try it. Throw a good fake if someone is open deep for your flick and make a smart throw underneath.

      4. Go for it! Again, this is your chance to show what you can do, if a play you can make presents itself go do it, and do it with confidence!

      5. Hustle! A coach will always find a spot for someone that is willing to work hard.

      6. Show you are coachable — If a coach suggests something to you, listen, and try to apply the suggestion in the scrimmage.
  • Go After Similar, More Experienced Players
    ArticleBlock Husak

    • I think the first thing that a player should evaluate is their own talents and strengths. During the tryout you should be focusing on accentuating those strengths when given the chance. If you're a tall deep threat, don't waste time in a scrimmage squirelling around the disc, and in any huck drill make sure you are going up strong to show that you can climb. If you're a squirrely quick guy, make sure you are getting open on all short cuts, and that if there are any sprints to be done that you are winning them all. And with these points in mind, here are a few general tips:

      Stay focused. A few lazy turnovers in a seemingly meaningless drill might cause the powers-that-be to write you off or at least notice and inconsistency or lack of focus to detail. That's probably not going to be appreciated on a successful team.

      Give a good effort. It might not be how the 'cool' guys play, or even very efficient, but if you're going hard the people will notice, and that's always a welcome vibe to bring to a team. Never give up on a disc that's in the air, make every cut as hard as possible, make the guy you're guarding in the drill work a little's a positive.

      Recognize your strengths and make sure they are exposed in scrimmages. if you're going to make the team you're going to have to be pretty good at something. know what that is, and make sure you're doing it better than others.

      Guard the returners who do your thing as often as possible. If you can do their thing better than them, that's going to be apparent if you are guarding them. If you're making them work harder than usual, that will get filtered up to decision-makers. If you're getting schooled, you'll at least know why you didn't make the team and will have hopefully learned something from a better player than you.

      Finally, be supportive and enthusiastic. All players love to get high-fives from teammates, they love when people get excited about their defense, when people recognize their accomplishments...don't be sparing with those comments. Also, talk while your team is on defense, even if it's just to one returner.

      I think it's important to recognize that there most likely is some hierarchy, even a subtle one, and that returners are likely above new tryouts. Some teams may have a flatter structure than others, but if you want to get on the team you're likely going to have to displace somebody, so do all the things you can better than some of those above you and hope that the effort and skill are recognized.
  • Focus On What You Can Control
    ArticleBlock Morgan

    • Trying out for a club team is like interviewing for any job. There are some things that are in your control and some things that aren’t. It’s important to focus on the things you can control and understand that the other things aren’t worth worrying about. Even if you are a great thrower, if the team already has great throwers then the 6’9" guy that can’t throw may get selected over you. Here, I’d like to focus on three things that I would like to see from all of my tryouts, regardless of my team’s needs: commitment, willingness to adapt, and decision making.

      First, for a tryout to have any chance of making the team he must show his commitment. Elite club ultimate requires a significant time and money commitment. Additionally, a newcomer to the team will require more time during the season to gel with his new teammates. A tryout should show that he is prepared to make the requisite commitment by attending all preseason tryout events. This may require missing family events, having less time to study for a test, or delaying that vacation but an elite club player must make the team a priority. A tryout who misses preseason events severely disadvantages himself.

      Second, a tryout must show a willingness to adapt to the team’s style. Just because you had the green light to send it in your former team’s huck-n-hope offense doesn’t mean you will have the same luxury with this team. Get a feel for what kind of offense or defense the team is accustomed to running and show you can be an asset in that system. A good rule of thumb is not to try anything unusual unless an established player does it first. Generally speaking, don’t be the first tryout to attempt a 40-yard hammer or a blade to the break side. If you are comfortable with a special throw, show it off during warm-ups and not in-game. Perhaps over the season improvements can be made to the system to take advantage of your skills. But for the tryout period you should adapt your play to the team. The team should not adapt to you. Of course, if you find out that this team plays huck-n-hope too, then huck away!

      Third, every tryout must demonstrate good decision-making. At the elite level every possession matters. Every turnover matters. So, good decision-making that will reduce turnovers is a much more important factor than at lower levels. Sometimes knowing how to play smart is a more important quality that being talented. On my team, a talented player that makes poor decisions will get cut while a less talented player that makes good decisions has a much better shot at making the team. Some examples of good decision-making include:
      • Seeing poaches
      • Recognizing mismatches
      • Throwing high percentage passes but knowing when to take calculated risks
      • Appropriately choosing to initiate or not initiate a fast break after a turnover
      • Remaining calm even as the stall count gets high

      Ultimately, both sides are trying to find the perfect fit for them. As a tryout, as long as you focus on those things you can control including commitment, a willingness to adapt, and good decision making, then you can feel good about your effort. Good luck!
  • Hard Work Stands Out
    ArticleBlock Roth

    • At tryouts, I am looking for someone who will fit into the TOP HALF of our roster if they are a new player. I prefer having all-team tryouts so that each member, even if they have played on the team previously, brings great intensity to tryouts — this is the best way to start a season (and the most fair way to choose a team).

      In terms of skills, this means you need to have all the basics without flaw. For example, you can be the best thrower in the world, but if you refuse to play defense, ta-ta. As a teammate, I’m looking for someone who will support the team, make the (huge) commitment to being at everything possible and be low-maintenance. It’s good to ask questions; it’s bad to ask questions every day of the same person. It’s also good to have a compatible personality — someone that people will enjoy being around has a much greater chance of making the team because we spend so much time together.

      As far as age, I’m more looking at someone who will either contribute to the team immediately, and hopefully for more than one year OR someone who will learn quickly and has a lot of potential (these are usually the hyper athletes with weaker throws). In my mind, it’s great to be young and want to learn — if this is you, make sure you show the appropriate amount of respect for team captains/coaches/returning players. Young players can make the team as whoever they are, age doesn’t matter that much to me — we have had very experienced, calm young players play great in big games on Riot.

      As far as what type of play is better — I believe the base should be to be 100% on offense and never let your woman touch the disc on defense. Beyond that, if you can break the mark, throw hucks, sky people, get blocks — show that! But if one of those things isn’t you (they are almost certainly not ALL you), tryouts is NOT the time to start trying. If you are particularly good at something that the team you’re trying out for does not have, make sure you show that at some point during the tryout process.

      I would say the #1 thing I’m looking for in a tryout is someone who works hard. If you work hard every moment of your tryout that will stand out to anyone. Whether you’re at tournaments, practices or track workouts, you better be giving it your all at all times. This includes traits like being on time/early to everything, busting your ass at track (and also having been at the track/weight room prior to tryouts), being healthy for the tryout whenever possible, jogging to water, making eye contact with people explaining drills/offense/etc, and talking from the sideline at tournaments and practices.
  • Strong Fundamentals Trump Team Needs
    ArticleBlock Sun

    • Tryouts are such a weird time for me. It's exciting the season is starting and so many people want to tryout for our team, but at the same time the decisions can be stressful and as much pressure as one might feel when trying out, the team is also some amount of pressure on the team being tried out to find a good fit. Since there are a few different options in Boston, it is very important for our team to put our best foot forward and we try to do it as accurately as possible. We try to have a complementary mix of teaching and evaluating so that people can get a good sense of what the team is like (values, personality, strategic sets, etc) and the team can get a feel for what the tryouts can bring to the table. While there do exist specific skill sets that we look for each season (more on this in a bit), at the core, Brute has always had a strong emphasis on athleticism and strong fundamentals: catching, throwing, good decisions, and man defense. It is also important for us to see that people are coachable and able to adapt to different/new situations. All of these characteristics together paint a pretty accurate picture, albeit an overwhelmingly general one, of the type of player we look for taking on our team.

      Attitude and personality fit, while both are very important intangibles that are taken into consideration, have never been deal breakers for us. One of the reasons for this is because we already have such a diverse range of personality on the team - we have teammates who like to ask questions, teammates who are outspoken, teammates who are silent, teammates who are emotional, teammates who view the glass as half full/half empty, etc - and this is something we embrace and have never had a problem with.

      At the beginning of every season, we take inventory of the team and evaluate the roles we need to have filled, based both on evaluations of previous seasons and on personnel losses. Every year without fail, one of the hardest roles for us to fill is the dynamic handler (big throws, big target, touch the disc a lot types) and inevitably, we never have enough of them. Some of the other past specific needs have included: deep defenders, stopped disc cutters, possession handlers, and big marks. This isn't to say that we only look for people with certain skill sets, but rather we do tailor practices to focus on teaching and identifying these skills. The general philosophy is to increase the quantity of people on our team that are good at a certain skill, so sometimes we have tryouts who already fit one or more of our needs, but the tryout process is also a lot about teaching and in that case, it is just as important for us to see improvement from weekend to weekend.

      So I guess this has all been more about the tryout process from a team organizational perspective, but if I had to give anyone advice about trying out for our team, I'd just encourage them to be themselves and have fun out there. We try to maintain an atmosphere of openness and transparency, so if anyone has thoughts/ideas/questions, just tell/ask someone. Don't be scared of asking questions or for feedback and don't worry too much about "fitting into a system". Work hard, have fun, and play ultimate, because that's what we are all together to do.
  • Athleticism First, Attitude Close Behind
    ArticleBlock Talarico

    • The most important things I want to see from a tryout are, in no particular order:
      • Athleticism/speed
      • Field sense
      • Confidence with the disc
      • Ability & willingness to take direction

      The first point speaks for itself. If a player can't run fast, jump, layout, and exhibit a reasonable level of body control, they don't stand much of a chance.

      For field sense, I want to see that a player knows where the next pass is likely to go. A couple examples:
      • While on defense, if his man gets a swing pass, does he get upfield and take away the continue pass before getting tight on the mark?
      • Does he keep himself in a position to see both his man and the thrower?
      • On offense, does he clear space if he's not cutting?
      • Does he set up a deep strike when he sees a handler make an open up-line cut?
      • Is he in position to receive a continue pass after a break-side dump?

      Of course these could go on and on, but what a tryout needs to show is that he's aware of what's happening on the field, and knows where he needs to be.

      I guess confidence with the disc speaks for itself as well. No matter what position someone may want to play, they need to be able to complete passes when faced with a tough, aggressive mark. Shaky forehands and rushed dump passes aren't going to cut it.

      The last point about taking direction is part personality/attitude, part on-field ability. The on-field part involves being able to adjust your style of play. Too often I've encountered the problem where a particular defense is called on the line, but is not executed during the point. I want to see a player that doesn't get beat deep when the call is to force your man underneath. I want to see a player be able to change their mark to take away an I-O, if that's what has been called, or to instead stop the 'around.' A player needs to be able to holster a huck - even if it's wide open - if the call is to play conservatively. The longer I've played, the more important I've found this last point to be. It's incredibly difficult to win if everyone on the field is not on the same page.

      Those are the main things I look for at tryouts.

      As for the player with the fancy throws... as far as I'm concerned, tryouts are not a venue to display "trick" throws, or to take chances with any kind of throw. Disc possession is more important in elite ultimate than at any other level. You're far less likely to get the disc back if you turn it over, so you've got to prove that you have the ability to complete passes before you show off your newfangled whatchamacallit. I like forehands and backhands... call me crotchety and conservative, but I'm far more inclined to take a player on my team who can complete a safe pass 100% of the time vs. a player who will attempt more difficult throws and turn it over occasionally.

      Admittedly, that makes for a bit of a stifling situation for a new player who regards himself as a thrower. But really, anyone can take chances - I think a tryout needs to first show that they're capable of playing turnover-free ultimate before opening it up.
  • Thoughts From Team USA Tryouts
    ArticleBlock VanHeuvelen

    • My thoughts on this topic are at the front of my mind today!

      Advice to tryouts:

      1. Distinguish yourself on defense, even if you consider yourself an offensive player. Even if you don't know the offensive system of the new team, you can always make an impression on D. In particular, focus on marks and shut-down defense.

      Be the defender who uses intelligence, positioning, and quickness to prevent his guy from getting open for uncontested passes. Be the defender who visibly hassles/ flusters the thrower with unpredictable movement and energy on the mark. Do not go for poach Ds; do not go for handblocks at the expense of letting off breakmark throws; do not bait layout Ds. Handblocks and layout Ds are flashy, but good captains/coaches will appreciate the flawless fundamentals that make for excellent team defense. (Also, flawless fundamental defense should create plenty of opportunities for flashy big plays.)

      2. Get in shape early. Returning players who feel more assured of their roster spots might not be in great shape yet. You can get an extra few blocks per game, catch an extra few goals per scrimmage, if you're in mid-season shape when everyone else is in early-season shape.

      3. Ask the captains/coaches what they're looking for. Good leaders will articulate, or will be able to articulate, the general qualities they're looking for in players. After a day or so of tryouts, they'll also be able to tell you the type of specific role they envision for you, and what they need to see from you in order to give you a spot on the team.

      4. Play your game and show your skills, but within the structure and the expectations that the team captains set. One way to achieve this balance is to focus on being a player who makes everyone else better. Make throwers look good by catching their swill. Make cutters look good by placing perfect passes to space in front of them (and holstering throws that will not result in perfect passes). Make teammates look good by clearing space. In the course of doing all of these things, you will probably be doing flashy things -- making plays as a receiver, breaking the mark, making long throws. The trick is to keep your focus on doing what makes the team look good, rather than what makes you look good. (Ultimately, they are one and the same.)

      5. Cheer your fellow tryouts as if they're your teammates. One mental pitfall of tryouts is that you focus relentlessly on yourself. You are constantly evaluating how well you're doing. This is dangerous psychological territory. (As Joe Montana said, "As soon as you know you're in The Zone, you're not in The Zone.") Take your focus off yourself -- get out of your own head -- by encouraging your fellow tryouts. Talk to them when they're marking, congratulate them when they do good things, etc. (And, as a side-note, do not try to coach or instruct them.) Not only will you have an easier time getting out of your own head and play better, but you'll show the team leaders that you're a good teammate.
  • Perspective From The Team & From A Player
    ArticleBlock WigginsB

    • A couple of thoughts that I always have when tryouts roll around:

      Any young player that wants to improve should be trying out for any team possible. Tryout ultimate is typically intense, cheap, and with players that you don't normally play with. This can be an amazing opportunity to improve...especially with experienced players available that are motivated (or at least ready) to give constructive feedback. This can be a great opportunity for developing players, regardless of your own chances of making the team.

      If you are invested in making the team, you should know the answer to this question: What is the point of the entire tryout process? It isn't to be fair, and it isn't to give everyone an equal chance. It darn sure is not to find the best 24 players. The point of tryouts is to WIN GAMES.

      From the tryout perspective, this means that you should be trying to win scrimmages and win tournament games, first and foremost. Win. Play tough D, hustle to the ball, listen and those things that win games. This should trump any advice on how to try out. Assuming that the people picking the team are thinking objectively (which is a big assumption, obviously) they will see those things. If your scrimmage team's best chance of winning is not with you on the field...well, you probably aren't going to make the team this year (which is may as well ignore this assumption for the time being, get onto the field, and improve...just be realistic about your chances this year). Why should you cheer your scrimmage teammates from the sideline? Because this wins games. Why should you run down on the pull hard? You get the point.

      If you ever come to a point in a tryout practice where you aren't sure whether you should give full effort or Returning players have a history of success on the team, and will be excused for their inability to get up for practices to some extent. You, however, do not have this history. Win drills, win games.

      The team is trying to pick a team that will win games. If you show yourself to be a player that will give them their best chance of winning, they should take you. This is very different than trying to be their 23rd best player. If you don't make the team, and spend your time thinking about how you are, in fact, better than player missed the point. Do you give your team a better chance against Regional Rival X? Would Sectional team Y be dismayed to see you on the roster, or happy?

      The folks that run tryouts for professional teams get paid of a lot of money, and they make mistakes all the time. These mistakes are both in their process mistakes (how many tryouts, how much intensity, what drills do we run, etc) and in their decision mistakes (which player should we pick). And those are the pros. Non-pro Ultimate players are often running tryouts with no experience or training, and they are doing the best they can with the main goal (Win Games) in mind. Which means they are going to make mistakes of all kinds. Winners deal with these mistakes and give their best, and the rest tend to whine about how they didn't get a fair, open, balanced chance to show they "deserved" a spot. If you are trying out for a team, understand that the process will be imperfect and be ready for something weird. Maybe you get less time on the field than optimal. Maybe you do drills that aren't geared to your strengths. Maybe you are forced to play in an offense that you don't know well. Deal with it...when the big games come in September and October, you are going to be out of your comfort zone then, too. Everyone will. Heck, this almost makes the insane tryout process a better process of analysis.

      On Sockeye, we have what I think is a pretty solid tryout process, but only after years of making mistakes and then making adjustments in the next year (I'm not captaining now, but have been involved for the past several years). We have an initial open tryout, where about 100 players come out. Our tryout process is merged with Voodoo, the other open team in town. At least for the past 4 years, everyone has to try out every year: obviously there are people that are at very, very low risk for being cut (Nord is probably going to have to lose 2-3 limbs in order to NOT make the team this year) but everyone else has to perform and show up to camp in shape. After the initial tryout, we cut down to about 35. We make cuts by email or phone, and we give players a chance to tell us which method they would rather receive the news by. We set pretty hard deadlines about when people will hear back from us. After first cuts, we practice with this 35 for 3-4 weeks, then go to a tryout tournament. Tryouts are told that the tournament is the big deal, and we try to teach everything the player needs to know (O, D, positions) before that tournament. If someone blows up at the tournament against good competition then they have a good chance of making the team. I might repeat, I think this is a solid process, but we make mistakes with it every year and every year it improves, hopefully.

      I think team captains need to understand what they are selecting for. I had trouble trying out for a couple of teams as a thrower/handler...these teams wanted all their new players to simply dump the disc to their veterans. You find out after tryouts that, sweet, you now have 8 new handlers...none of whom will throw (or can throw) a 30-yard throw. Maybe THAT is why our offense keeps grinding to a halt. Teams need to trust their own teaching and, often, look for the players with character and potential. If the player is a winner and unselfish then they can learn discipline, in my opinion.

      When one of my team's takes on a new player, we need to realize that our team is now 1/24th based on the new players skills and mindset. We picked up two vert-stack players? This doesn't mean they need to hurry up and learn horizontal stack like we run...maybe it is time to incorporate more vert-stack principles into our offense so we can really use those skills. Such are offenses changed to become more effective. We picked up a guy with a crazy I/O flick? Well, 23/24ths are him learning to use that throw within our O, and 1/24th is us learning to adapt how we play to this throw. Same with team motivation, learning style, take on the character of your new players. They don't just become robotic clones of last year's retirees.

      Lastly, as a tryout, try to focus on things that you can control. If your goal is "make the team" then you are always going to be at the mercy of the people picking the team. These people may or may not be objective, logical, or fair. Making a goal like "play well enough to help my team in every scrimmage or tournament game and give focused effort in every drill" is better; it helps you to focus on the things you can control. At the end of the day, you can meet your goal and still not make the team, which is a darn sight better than being crushed that you were cut and then giving up. Make controllable goals.


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