Holding tryouts for a softball team could be a complicated task. Coaches will be making choices based on a small sample size of performance to determine what players are best to fill the roster. In most cases, it will lead to the weaker players getting cut and some starting out with reduced playing time. Having an organized, consistent way of evaluating the players is key in the decision making process.
Write up a specific plan and timeline to follow before you begin the tryout. Know what you are looking for in each player and how to manage the time you set up. Take notes of the specific skills that you are looking for and know what you’ll have them do to evaluate them. Lastly, decide how you will announce results to the team and how you’ll positively encourage those who do not make the team.
Watch the players as they perform drills related to hitting, fielding, running and throwing. For some tryouts, you can also watch and evaluate pitching. Sometimes, this could be done through practice after cuts are made. It is important to develop a consistent points system to evaluate each element.
Measure catching and throwing skills simultaneously by using two coaches to observe and record each result. Two separate rounds should be done for different types of catching and throwing. For outfield, hit 10 fly balls to each player. Simply award 0 points for a missed catch and 1 for a made play. After each ball is fielded, have the player throw in to an infield base while a second coach records. Award 0 points for an errant throw, 1 point for a moderately inaccurate throw, and 2 points for a good throw to the base. For the infield, hit 10 ground balls and award players 0 points for an error, one point for keeping the ball in front of them, and 2 points for a completed catch. For the throwing portion, have each player throw to first and utilize the scoring outlined for the outfield.
Record subjective observations by using what your eyes see to supplement the scoring data. At the same time, be careful not to ignore the data altogether and base a decision solely on the subjective. Any team will have strengths and weaknesses, and a coach needs to address certain needs for each position and the team as a whole. Subjective notes can help make the decision if two players are similar based on the data, or if they have strengths in different areas.
Compare and contrast all of the data and subjective notes. Evaluate the team’s strengths and weaknesses and determine who fits best. Factor in the potential of the different players in the various areas. Decisions can be made from there and now you have a consistent way to evaluate the individual players fairly. Take the time to make a phone call to those who have made the team and use the tryout results to point out how you chose them. For those who will not make the team, use the results as a means of encouraging improvement. Never make cuts as an announcement in front of other players. Call each player to be cut individually, and in private.
Evaluate hitting by giving each player 10 good pitches from a pitching machine. Award 0 points for strikes, 1 point for fouls, 2 points for ground ball or fly ball outs. Give 3 points for line drives, and 4 points for clean hits. For more thorough results, conduct two rounds and average the total scores. Recognize that running speed does not equal base running ability. That is something to evaluate over time through practice. However, speed is an important element you want to evaluate and hope to have on any team. Each player should be timed on the ability to run from home to first and from second base to home. Each should be done based on time elapsed. As with hitting, to get more thorough results, this should be done through multiple rounds. Testing speed from second to home will bring in some level of agility into the evaluation, as well.