baseball tryout drills

Baseball Tryout Drills: Tips For Youth Skills Evaluation

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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 youth baseball 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, then move on to different baseball 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. Smart base runners can significantly impact a game by making the right decisions on the base paths.
  • 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. This simulates base running and fielding movements.


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 baseball hitting drills that coaches can use to evaluate Baseball players.

  • 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 youth baseball hitting 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 strong 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 youth 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 to various bases, which can lead to improved velocity and control.

These young pitching 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.


Catching Drills For Baseball Tryouts

Catching drills are important for baseball tryouts because they help test a catcher’s catching, blocking, throwing, and footwork skills. Here are some catching drills for your baseball tryout:

  • Blocking drill
    • Stand slightly from the coach or another player and throw the ball into the dirt. The receiver needs to focus on getting their body in front of the ball, keeping it in front of them, and preventing them from overtaking.
  • Receiving drill
    • Use a pitching machine or have the coach throw the ball from different distances and speeds. By continuing to catch the ball with an elbow, the catcher must work to line up the pitch so that it looks like the umpire has been hit.
  • Footwork Drill
    • Place a cone or marker to simulate a batter trying to steal a base. The catcher starts in position and performs quick drills, getting up, walking, and making a strong throw to base.
  • Blocking and Recovery Drill
    • Combine blocking and recovery by dropping the ball in the dirt with a coach or trap and relocating a second pitched or hit the ball where the catcher must rebound off the block to come early and act on the second ball.
  • Throwing drill
    • Catchers should practice throwing from knees to bases and squatting. Focus on accuracy and arm strength.

Scrimmage Drills For Baseball Tryouts

Scrimmage drills during baseball practice greatly influence how players handle real game situations. It’s all about knowing how to work, make decisions, and work together. Some common scrimmage drills are as follows. 

  • Infield vs Outfield
    • Divide players into two groups, one for the infield position and one for the outfield. Then, hit or throw the ball to simulate game situations like grounders, flies, and line drives. This helps determine how to communicate effectively, field, and make accurate shots.
  • Live Batting Practice
    • Pitchers throw live to batters, letting pitchers work on their throws while batters show off their skills. It’s an excellent way for coaches to see how well batters connect, judge pitches, and handle different hits.
  • Base Running Drill
    • Set up a scrimmage where players take turns batting and running bases. This helps us check out their base running abilities, speed, and how smartly they play on the bases.
  • Emulated Plays
    • Players are split into teams and create short scrimmage plays with specific situations, like having runners on base with one or two outs. This helps you see how they handle pressure and make smart moves in the game.
  • Fielding and Throwing
    • Focus on defense by hitting grounders, pop flies, and line drives to the players. It’s all about practicing clean fielding, accurate throws, and good communication between teammates.

These drills give us a good look at the players’ overall skills and how they handle the game’s different aspects.


Why Mastering Tryout Drills Matters?

Youth baseball tryouts can be a stressful experience. Proper preparation gives you a better chance of getting onto the team. Coaches seek talented players who shine in game situations and show skills and a commitment to practice. Mastering tryout drills is important because it showcases your abilities rather than hitting or playing. They allow coaches to see your agility, speed, accuracy, and decisiveness under pressure, exploring your potential as a team member.

Additionally, mastering tryout drills can give a player a competitive advantage over other players, making it harder to get a spot on the team. In a field where everyone strives to stand out, demonstrating professionalism in exercises can have a lasting impact on coaches. It shows your commitment to the sport and willingness to invest time and effort. In addition, mastering these exercises can boost your confidence during the test, allowing you to perform better under pressure.


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 successful youth baseball tryout drills. Start by setting clear expectations, goals, and agenda for the day of the tryouts. This plan will guide both coaches and players through various youth baseball drills such as hitting, pitching, and 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 drills. 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 youth 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 with proper technique.
  • 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 tryout drills. 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.

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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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