When trying out for spring sports, athletes have to battle the low temperatures of late-winter weather, hindering their performance. There is no way to “tough out” the cold because playing conditions like wind, temperature and precipitation will affect any sporting event.
Cold weather is not just a mindset. There are physical ramifications of playing sports in the cold that are out of athletes’ control. For example, a baseball always travels slower in low temperatures than in high ones. Because a person trying out as a pitcher has natural forces hindering the speed of his throw, coaches cannot accurately assess his skill. Hitters measuring their hit speeds also suffer the same problem. On average, cold weather reduces the travel distance of a baseball by two percent, according to the Univeristy of Massachusetts. This can be the difference between a home run and a flyout. Even a capable batter can have a stunted performance with this reduction of distance.
Physical activity in cold weather takes a structural toll on athletes. The human body naturally reacts to low temperatures by contracting joint muscles to hold on to body heat. Blood vessels also restrict blood flow to the top of the skin to prevent any heat from escaping, which is why fingers and toes sometimes lose feeling. It is counterintuitive to request an athlete to demonstrate the scope of their capabilities when they are physically impaired. For instance, stiff joints almost always marrs a runner’s ability to go as fast as possible or a soccer player’s ability to accurately kick a ball. It is similarly absurd to expect a baseball player to accurately throw a ball that he cannot feel in his hands.
The difference between the circumstances surrounding spring sports and fall and winter sports, which primarily take place in low temperatures, is that the spring season is the only season which holds tryouts in cold weather. Consider the tryout dates for fall sports. Most seasons begin in August, which is among the warmer months of the year. Although the season takes fall sports into colder weather, it does not compromise athletes’ ability to make the team. For the winter season, tryouts, practices and competitions take place indoors, and therefore, the outdoor weather has no impact on a basketball player’s performance.
Of course, the dates for spring sports tryouts will never change. If the tryout dates changed, teams would go into their first games only a short while after forming their rosters, negatively affecting team chemistry. But spring athletes do have a way to showcase their entire skill set without the disadvantage of cold weather: green days.
In practice, green days serve a similar purpose as tryouts for coaches. Athletes do drills and exercises and coaches watch and analyze their performance. The only difference is the weather. Green days never take place in weather that coaches do not want athletes to play in for long periods of time. Therefore, green days will almost never take place in weather that is not optimal for athletics. Furthermore, attendance at a green day shows coaches that an athlete is committed enough to attend optional events.
So if you are a baseball player, softball player or tennis player, hedge your bets: try out at green days before tryouts.