What Is Preferred for Walk-Ons in Baseball?

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Earning a spot on a college baseball team as a walk-on takes perseverance as well as talent. If you were not offered a scholarship and were not recruited to play at the school, you face an uphill battle trying to make the roster with a lot of athletes who were given scholarships. Still, most college teams open the team to tryouts by players who either chose not to go where they were recruited or who were not offered any scholarships. The qualities you need to make the team as a walk-on in baseball generally come down to talent and desire, and both are equally important.

Passion for Playing

For a coach to take a chance on a player who wasn’t recruited, that player needs to demonstrate an insatiable desire to play. The coach needs to see that you are willing to put in the effort even though you may never get a scholarship and will have to pay your own way through school. A coach willing to take you must see that making the team is something that you desperately want, and that you are willing to change positions, learn new skills, and put in time before and after practice to keep getting better.

Something Special

Aside from strong desire to play, you need something that will set you apart from the other players on the team. It could be exceptional defensive skills or great base-running speed or power, or being a left-handed pitcher with a great curve ball. If you have special skills, develop them as much as you can to help stand out. And when you’re given the opportunity to play, make the most of it with your skill and energy. Walk-ons tend to play with an inspired hustle that the more highly recruited and privileged players don't always demonstrate.

Mental Toughness

Making it as a walk-on means putting up with some discrimination or negative attitude from the players on scholarship and possibly some skepticism by the coaches that you belong there at all. You may stick around for four years and never get a real chance to play. You may have to watch less talented players get more attention, simply because they landed a scholarship. But dealing with that kind of adversity may work out in your favor if the coaches see how you handle it. If nothing else, it may make you better able to handle tough situations in life.

Be Coachable

As a walk-on, your goal is to make the team and possibly earn a scholarship. To convince a coach to extend that offer or at least keep you as part of the program as a walk-on, he needs to see that you are coachable. It's one thing to have skill and desire, but it's quite another to show that you'll listen to criticism, make adjustments based on coaching and be a supportive teammate.