baseball tryout drills

Baseball Tryout Drills: Tips For Youth Skills Evaluation

baseball tryout drills

In the world of Little League baseball, tryouts can be a challenging affair. Picture this. Dozens of youth players, each with their own unique skills and potential, but with only a handful of opportunities to showcase their abilities. The typical baseball tryout drills? It’s a rapid-fire sequence – three ground balls in the infield, ten swings at the plate, and a quick test under a few fly balls. But here’s the kicker. Pitching, arguably a game-changer in Little League, often doesn’t even make the tryout agenda.

This glaring gap in the tryout process can lead to undiscovered talent and unbalanced teams. Our article aims to tackle this head-on. We’re here to guide coaches and board members through effective baseball tryout drills that go beyond the basics. These drills are designed not just to evaluate the skills players already have, but to unearth their hidden potential.

Stay tuned as we discuss league tryouts, ensuring you see the full spectrum of each player’s abilities. Get ready to transform your tryouts into a more comprehensive, fair, and insightful process. Let’s find those future all-stars together.


Top Youth Baseball Tryout Drills

For coaches conducting youth baseball tryouts, you should use drills that accurately assess a player’s abilities across various parts of the game. Start with running exercises to gauge speed and agility, and then move on to different types of hitting drills. Fielding drills are also equally important, helping you evaluate a player’s accuracy and consistency in handling different types of plays.

Don’t forget to include pitching drills that can help better understand a player’s potential on the mound. Finally, incorporate catching exercises to test reaction times and hand-eye coordination of catchers.

This approach ensures a comprehensive evaluation of each athlete, helping coaches identify well-rounded players who can contribute significantly to the baseball team.


Running Drills for Baseball Tryouts

Here are some effective drills coaches can use to evaluate speed and running ability.

  • Home Run Sprint:
    • Players sprint from home plate for a trip around the diamond. This drill mimics the quick, all-out sprint required after a base hit. It will also help evaluators see the different angles runners take when approaching the different bases.
  • Shuttle Run:
    • Set up two cones approximately 20 yards apart. Players sprint between these cones multiple times, focusing on explosive starts and rapid deceleration. This drill is excellent for assessing agility and acceleration.
  • 60-yard Dash:
    • A staple in professional scouting combines, this drill measures a player’s straight-line speed and explosiveness over a distance which is common in baseball.
  • Outfield Sprint:
    • Players start in a ready stance in right field and, on a signal, sprint towards center field. This simulates the quick reaction and speed needed to chase down fly balls.
  • Base Stealing Practice:
    • Players begin at first base and, on your cue, practice stealing second base. This drill evaluates a player’s acceleration and ability to quickly read and react to play signals.

These drills should provide an overall view of each player’s running capabilities, helping coaches make informed decisions about their speed, agility, and overall athletic potential on the baseball field.


Hitting Drills for Baseball Tryouts

Hitting is a fundamental skill in baseball, and assessing it effectively during tryouts is crucial. Here’s a list of hitting drills that coaches can use to evaluate ballplayers.

  • Tee Drills:
  • Soft Toss:
    • A coach or partner gently tosses balls to the hitter from a short distance. This drill allows players to work on timing and swing mechanics in a controlled environment.
  • Front Toss:
    • Coaches throw pitches from behind a protective net, offering a more realistic batting experience while still maintaining a controlled setting for the hitter.
  • Batting Practice (BP):
  • Opposite Field Hitting:
    • Encourages players to hit the ball towards the opposite field, which is crucial for developing hitting skills and better overall bat control.
  • Hit-and-Run Drills:
    • These drills focus on making contact with the pitch and immediately sprinting towards first base, combining hitting and running skills.
  • Bunting Drills:
    • Practicing laying down bunts is essential for baseball teams, especially in sacrifice situations.
  • Two-Strike Hitting:
    • Teaches players to adjust their approach when behind in the count, focusing on shortening the swing and making contact to put the ball in play.

Consequently, these drills provide a comprehensive evaluation of a player’s hitting skills, from power to strategic thinking at the plate. Coaches can use these exercises to identify strengths and areas for improvement in each player’s batting technique.


Fielding Drills for Baseball Tryouts

Fielding is another important aspect of baseball. Here are some fielding drills that coaches can use during tryouts to assess players’ defensive skills.

  • Ground Ball Drill:
    • Players practice fielding ground balls and making accurate throws to first base.
  • Line Drive Fielding Drill:
    • Coaches hit line drives directly to players in their defensive positions. This drill tests players’ reflexes and their ability to catch hard-hit balls.
  • Fly Ball Drill:
    • Utilize a pitching machine to launch fly balls in various directions. Players must track the ball, make the catch, and accurately throw it back to home plate. Coaches should be able to see the outfielder’s first step with this drill.
  • Slow Rollers Drill:
    • This exercise focuses on fielding slow-rolling ground balls, requiring players to develop quick hands and throws, especially useful for infielders.
  • Double Play Drills:
    • Infielders practice executing double plays, particularly throws from second to first base. This drill is a great way to improve teamwork, coordination, and quick decision-making.

These drills provide a comprehensive assessment of a player’s fielding abilities, from catching high fly balls to executing quick infield plays. Coaches can use these exercises to identify each player’s defensive strengths and areas that need improvement, ensuring a well-rounded evaluation during tryouts.


Pitching Drills for Baseball Tryouts

When evaluating pitchers during tryouts, especially in the early season or colder weather, it’s important to focus on their delivery, comfort on the mound, and accuracy rather than maximum velocity, to avoid injuries. Here are some pitching drills that can help assess young pitchers.

  • Bullpen Sessions:
    • Regular, short, controlled practice sessions where pitchers will throw 5-10 pitches at about a 60-75% effort.
  • Long Toss Drill:
    • This drill encourages pitchers to develop power from their legs and core by throwing the ball over extended distances. This drill is great for building arm strength while minimizing strain. It may be hard for coaches to evaluate this if confined to an indoor space.
  • Target Practice Drill:
    • Focuses on accuracy by having pitchers aim at different locations within the strike zone.
  • Towel Drill:
    • A drill that improves arm extension, posture, and balance, both essential for delivering consistent and accurate pitches.
  • Knee Drill:
    • This drill emphasizes the importance of using the back leg effectively during the pitching motion, aiding in power generation and stability.
  • Step Behind Drill:
    • Focuses on developing an efficient stride toward home plate, which can lead to improved velocity and control.

These drills are designed to provide a comprehensive evaluation of a pitcher’s abilities, focusing on the fundamentals of pitching while ensuring the safety and health of young arms.


How to Set Up a Baseball Tryout

Start your baseball tryout planning by ensuring proper preparation and communication. Decide on different stations for running, hitting, fielding, pitching, and catching drills. Make sure to also prioritize safety by having the right equipment and enough spacing in between drills.

Preparation and Communication

Planning and discussing your strategy is essential for a successful baseball tryout. Start by setting clear expectations, goals, and agenda for the day of the tryouts. This plan will guide both coaches and players through various drills such as hitting, pitching, fielding skills assessment.

During the planning stage, pinpoint specific areas where you want to assess the young players’ skill levels. Equally important is effective communication with youth baseball players and their parents about the scheduled time slots, location of open tryouts, or any changes in plans.

Also, consider using a mobile app or online platforms to distribute information quickly and effectively among current players or those coming for their first baseball tryout. A well-communicated plan ensures that everyone knows what’s happening when they step onto the playing field.

This boosts confidence and motivation among new players while fostering an atmosphere of professionalism which is crucial to building a winning team during town or travel baseball tryouts.

Setting Up Stations

Planning the layout of your tryout stations is one of the most important elements of the entire day.

  1. First, designate an area for each skill that will be evaluated during the tryout. This might include a station for ground balls, a spot for fly balls, and zones for hitting and pitching drills.
  2. Map out locations around the field where different skills can best be assessed.
  3. A pitching machine at one station can provide consistent throws allowing players to showcase their hitting talents or outfielder skills.
  4. Plan a specific area, perhaps near second base for running drills like the 60-yard dash so you may gauge players’ speed accurately.
  5. Also, consider creating a station dedicated to testing young players’ arm strength through long toss exercises from various positions on the playing field.
  6. Establish spaces away from active stations where those waiting their turn can practice swinging or warm up their arms.
  7. Be mindful of safety when setting up these stations ensuring that every space has enough room without risking injury to participants or bystanders.

Tips for Evaluating A Youth Baseball Player

From spotting key skills to utilizing effective observation techniques, learn practical tips on how to evaluate youth baseball players effectively. This section provides insights for recognizing potential talent and future stars in the making during youth baseball tryouts.

Essential Skills to Evaluate in Youth Baseball Tryouts

When scouting young talent at baseball tryouts, it’s important to look beyond the basic skills. Here’s what evaluators should focus on to spot those future all-stars:

  • Batting Technique and Control:
    • Observe how players handle the bat. Are they comfortable and controlled in their swing? It’s not just about power. Watch for a balanced stance, smooth swing mechanics, and the ability to make consistent contact.
  • Fielding Proficiency:
    • Pay close attention to how players handle ground balls and fly balls. Can they approach the ball confidently and field it cleanly? Look for strong, accurate throws and the ability to make quick decisions.
  • Movement and Agility:
    • Baseball is a game of split-second decisions and rapid movements. Watch how players move on the field. Do they demonstrate quick reflexes, agility, and speed? These attributes are crucial in both offensive and defensive plays.
  • Overall Game Awareness:
    • Beyond physical skills, observe a player’s understanding of the game. Do they exhibit good judgment on when to take risks or play it safe? How well do they communicate with teammates? This mental aspect of baseball is often what separates a good player from a great one.

Identifying these key skills will help you pinpoint players who are not only talented but also versatile and ready to make an impact in any game situation. Remember, the goal is to find players who bring a well-rounded set of skills to the team, contributing to both its immediate success and long-term development.


Conclusion

Now you’ve got the insights to conduct successful baseball tryouts. With a solid plan, appropriate drills, and effective player evaluation techniques in place, you’re well-equipped to uncover top talents. But remember, while winning championships is thrilling, the true essence of youth sports lies in skill development, teamwork, a desire to improve, and the dedication to hard work.

It’s essential to recognize and nurture these qualities in younger players. Encourage them to have fun and grow in the game, fostering a love for baseball that goes beyond just winning.

Chris F.

Chris F.

Chris Forbes is the founder and editor of BaseballMode.com, a leading blog in the youth baseball space. As a lifelong baseball player, coach and fan, he decided to team up with his young son to offer advice and share their experiences with the sport they both love. Chris lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children.
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