Softball Coaching Tips for Holding a Tryout
Tryouts are an extremely exciting time for a league or travel team because is signifies the beginning of building the brand new season by replenishing teams with new players eager to play the great game of Softball. However, for the volunteers, it can also be extremely stressful if the tryouts are not planned properly. Let’s take a look at some Softball Coaching Tips for Holding a Tryout.
A great way to eliminate unwanted stress due to tryouts is to be organized. The league should hold specific meetings focusing on the tryouts. Let’s face it, the tryout is a pretty big league event and depending on the size of the league it could be a huge event that takes days or even weeks to complete. Staying organized will be key to having a tryout without a lot of controversy and headaches.
Some of the tasks that will need to be completed are picking possible days, securing fields, getting volunteers or paid staff, sending out email invitations, finding other ways of promoting the tryouts, buying supplies, producing registration forms and printing evaluation sheets.
Free Resource: Download our Tryout Evaluation Forms and Drills
#2 Recruiting New Softball Players
In the months leading up to the tryouts identify the places to recruit players for your tryouts. Determine email outlets like the school district email newsletters and physical locations that post tryout information like your local batting cages.
If possible, have you players pre-register. This way, you can eliminate the line of people waiting to sign-in. Have players register online or bring their paper registration with them. The registration form should include space for positions they would like to tryout for like pitcher, catcher and first base that will need them to get evaluation at those extra positions.
#4 Field Set Up
Set up the field at least 20 minutes before sign in time. Designate field space for groundballs, flyballs, pitching, catching and base running stations.
Players should be grouped by age and then by alphabetical order within their age group. Players should have a sticker with a number on them and then lineup in order at each station. If registration happens in advance, these stickers can be ready for them at the field. All players should be double checked for proper documentation and league requirements prior to the tryout.
#6 Scoring a Tryout/Taking Notes
The organization should then make score sheets that reflect the grouping. The sheets should include the names of the players, the age groups and some type of scoring system preferably using a spreadsheet or grid type document (use our forms here here!). Coaches should also have some paper in case they want to take notes which I highly recommend. Clipboards, pens and pencils should be made available for coaches and other league officials who will be scoring. Score sheets should have some blank spots in each age group or a section for players who sign up the day of the tryout (if the league allows late registration). A league meeting should be held to go over what coaches should be looking for and how the scoring system works. This will help to draft a fair and balanced league.
Sometimes, the first time a league looks at their equipment is during tryouts and it is important to make sure all equipment meets safety standards for the tryout.Bats need to be inspected as well as helmets & catcher’s gear. It would also be a good idea to have some extra gloves on hand for a player that may need one. Also if a pitching machine is being used then it too must be inspected to make sure it is good working condition.
Even a very small league will have a good number of players to look at for the tryout. With that said, the tryout needs to be organized in a way to see enough of the players but not let the tryout drag on all day. There is not a bigger turn off to a new Softball parent than seeing a mismanaged six-hour tryout that should have been done in three hours tops. Again, a meeting should be held discussing tryout specifics like efficiency. The league needs to figure out how much time it will take to tryout a certain number of players. This will determine what the tryout will look like and also how many days will be needed. The coaches might have to make the sacrifice of having two days of tryouts so parents don’t have to sit through a six-hour tryout. The following tips will be suggestions on how to tryout specific skills in an efficient manner.
I strongly suggest a pitching machine and I also suggest that the volunteer manning the machine be efficient like a machine. This may seem cruel but my suggestion would be 3-5 swings and not contacts. I understand it could be embarrassing for the player and/or the parent if the player doesn’t make contact but time is a factor. Coaches should be looking at mechanics and won’t necessarily need to see contact to score the player. The president of the league should be damage control to address any parents or players upset with the way the tryouts are being conducted. A good president is a good peace maker and should have no problem ironing out any controversy.
First, safety balls should be used for the tryouts because the league has no knowledge of the skill level of brand new players. My suggestion would be 3 fly balls and no exceptions.
I would allow players to tryout at up to two positions in the infield of their choice. Each player should get 5 ground balls and throws to first. First basemen should receive 5 throws. Again make no exceptions due to time constraints.
I would end with base running. Simply allow players to run the bases starting and ending at home plate. The base runners could be timed but it isn’t really necessary.
#13 Pitchers & Catchers
Pitching and catching can be optional for players. An announcement could be made before players run the bases. Those interested in pitching and catching can stick around or the players not interested can leave after running. Pitchers should throw 5-7 pitches and catchers can receive 10-15 pitches. Catchers can also throw to second base after receiving a pitch.
#14 Addressing the Parents
Teams and leagues are often also being evaluated when a player comes to tryout. Take this opportunity to share your organizations philosophy, cost and anything that makes your program better or unique.