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8 Best Softball Drills For Your Next Tryout

8 Best Softball Drills For Your Next Tryout

As a softball coach, one of the most daunting tasks is conducting tryouts. 

The tryout process entails carefully assessing the abilities of your players in different positions, identifying those who show exemplary character and determination, and ultimately, selecting a player who is a well-rounded fit for the team.

To achieve these goals, it is important to have your players participate in softball tryout drills that can showcase their potential and capabilities for the team.

This blog outlines the 8 best softball tryout drills for evaluating your players, giving you the insight and assurance you need to make informed drafting decisions.

How to Run a Softball Tryout?

There are three critical components to running a softball tryout: the warm-up, the evaluation, and the cooldown. Give athletes sufficient time to warm up, select basic softball drills in advance that will enable you to assess athletes’ competencies, and lead your athletes through a cooldown with gentle movements and stretches.

The Importance of Warming-Up for Softball Tryout Drills

Players should arrive at the field early, about 20-30 minutes before the game to properly warm up. Softball is a physically demanding sport, and it is essential to warm up the muscles before putting forth maximum effort in the softball tryout drills.

Start the warm-up with a team jog to get the blood moving, followed by a dynamic warm-up. 

The dynamic warm-up should include exercises like:

  • High knees
  • Side shuffles
  • Karaoke
  • Wind sprints 
  • Frankensteins
  • Arm circles

Incorporate A Cool Down

It is common for coaches and players to overlook the importance of cooling down properly. Some athletes rush through or skip it entirely, assuming age protects them from injury. However, stretching not only benefits athletes physically but also instills healthy habits. 

The cool down should include different stretches like:

  • Kneeling hip flexor stretch
  • Runner’s lunge
  • Child’s pose
  • Cat-cow
  • Standing chest opener

Looking For an Easier Way to Evaluate Softball Players?

Eliminate softball forms and data entry by using the SkillShark App, the leading choice for coaches and the highest-rated softball evaluation app on Google.

Using SkillShark, you can easily score softball athletes on any criteria using your smartphone or tablet. As scores are entered, data is automatically stored. When you are ready to compare and rank your players, the data is readily available in report format. It’s just a matter of plugging in which players you’d like to compare or selecting which skill(s) you want to target for review.

8 Softball Tryout Drills For Evaluating Your Players 

1. Round the Bases

Aim

This softball running drill is designed to develop players’ baserunning and conditioning in a fun environment.

Preparation

  1. Separate the tryout players into three teams.
  2. The first team are baserunners at home plate.
  3. The second team are fielders starting behind 1st base.
  4. The third team are fielders starting behind 3rd base.
  5. The coach or player positions themselves 10-12 feet from home plate in a soft-toss position. 


How To

  1. The first baserunning player steps to the plate.
  2. Next, the coach tosses a softball, and the player hits a line drive and then proceeds to round the bases.
  3. The 1st player in the fielding lines from bases 1st and 3rd immediately runs to field the ball. 
  4. As soon as both fielders touch the ball, the baserunner must stop.
  5. Baserunners earn one point for each base they touch.
  6. Repeat the drill until all players have had at least one chance to round the bases. 
  7. Ensure you keep track of points to declare a team the winner. 

2. The Shoestring Catch

Aim

This outfield softball drill is designed to improve outfielders’ techniques by catching balls that land in front of them or at their feet, hence the name “shoestring” drill.

Preparation

  1. The player and coach stand approximately 15-20 yards apart in the outfield. 


How To

  1. The coach will throw or hit a ball directly at the player’s feet.
  2. The players will sprint in, attack the ball, and attempt to use proper technique to make the play (shoestring catch).
  3. After making the play, the player returns the ball to the coach, returning to her starting position.
  4. Reassure players that the ball will not bounce higher than their knees; this will allow them to catch the ball with confidence. 

Watch the “Shoestring Catch” drill in action

3. Power the Hips

Aim

This softball hitting drill is designed to develop hip power in the swing.

Preparation

  1. Ensure every player has a bat.
  2. Place cones at a safe distance from each other but close to the fence.
  3. Provide every player with a ball.


How To

  1. Ensure that players are aware that turning their hips through the hitting zone is the focus of this drill.
  2. Have players stand at their designated cones while ensuring or “double-checking” that there is sufficient safe distance between each player.
  3. The coach will blow the whistle, and players will begin hitting their ball into the fence while powering their hips through the hitting zone. 

Learn more about “Power the Hips” drill

4. Fast Hands

Aim

This softball batting drill is specifically designed to improve hand speed in players while hitting the ball. 

Preparation

  1. Have the player stand at home plate in their athletic batting stance.
  2. The coach is set up to the side of the player.


How To

  1. The players assume their batting stance, ensuring they are in an athletic position and relaxed.
  2. To grip the bat, the player moves their bottom hand all the way up to the top of the handle. Then, the player inverts their top hand so that the palm faces the pitcher and places it above the bottom hand. Finally, the player lines the bat up with their top hand’s fingertips.
  3. The coach throws a soft toss, and the player swings away.
  4. Repeat, with a focus on speed, concentration, and proper techniques. 

5. The Three-Minute Drill

Aim

This softball pitching drill helps players develops arm, speed and endurance while pitching.

Preparation

  1. The pitcher stands on the mound.
  2. A coach or player is next to the picture with a bucket full of softballs.
  3. The catcher is at home plate.


How To

  1. The pitcher throws as many pitches as they can in one minute before taking a one-minute rest. They then repeats this two more times for a total of 3 minutes of pitching, hence the name “three-minute drill.”
  2. Ensure the pitcher completes her pre-pitch routine each and every time. 
  3. Once the pitch is completed, have the player or coach quickly pass the pitcher the next ball. 

6. Start From Second

Aim

This softball infield drill is designed to teach players how to score when on second base. 

Preparation

  1. Have three players in the outfield with a catcher at home base.
  2. All of the remaining players should be in a line directly behind 2nd base.
  3. The coach or another player is at home base with the bat and balls.
  4. An assistant coach or another player plays the role of the 3rd base coach. 


How to

  1. Have the coach or players hit fungo singles.
  2. Now, the 2nd base runner will try to score unless stopped by the 3rd base coach. 
  3. Repeat this drill by giving each player multiple chances to score from 2nd base. 
  4. Ensure that the 3rd base coach provides the runner with verbal and visual cues. 
  5. To make the drill slightly more challenging, you can have players start from 1st base rather than 2nd. 

7. Outfield Grounders

Aim 

This softball outfield drill focuses on developing correct fielding techniques while also serving as an excellent warm-up for players. 

Preparation

Have your tryout players line up in the outfield or put them in designated outfield positions. A coach, player, or even a machine will hit the balls to the field. 

How To

  1. The player, coach, or machine hits a ball to each outfielder for them to field using the correct techniques. 
  2. Ensure to hit a combination of varying balls to the fielder, including directly to them and to their forehand and backhand sides. 

8. Pitching Knees

Aim

This softball pitching drill helps the coach evaluate the core strength and balance of the pitcher. 

Preparation

  1. The pitcher will be on bent knees, preferably facing the catcher with the coach nearby. 

How To

  1. Ensure the pitcher starts in the “open-door” position with their wrists cocked.
  2. As they swing back, have the pitcher complete a full windmill throw to the catcher.
  3. Be sure to complete 3 sets of 10 to 15 throws, pitching with an emphasis on snapping the wrist.
  4. Ensure the pitcher has a good posture with her core tight and her body straight up and down. 
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Expanding Your Coaching Toolkit: Softball Tryout Format, Plan, and Checklist

While our primary focus has been on the softball drills, it’s valuable for coaches across all sports to have a versatile approach to evaluations and selection of softball players. If you’re involved in coaching softball or looking to expand your understanding of softball tryouts, you can enhance your ability to run efficient and effective sessions. Here’s a brief overview to get you started:


Softball Tryout Format

Softball tryout drills need a structured format, but they focus on different skill sets. A typical softball tryout might include:

  • Warm-Up: Dynamic exercises focusing on agility and flexibility.
  • Softball Throwing and Catching Drills: Assessing players’ defensive abilities.
  • Batting Practice: Evaluating hitters’ techniques and power.
  • Base Running: Timing players’ speed and assessing their decision-making on the bases.
  • Softball Fielding Drills: For infielders and outfielders, focusing on reaction time, accuracy, and arm strength.
  • Scrimmage: A short game to observe players in a live setting, mirroring basketball’s 5-on-5 scrimmages to assess overall game IQ and teamwork.


Softball Tryout Plan

A well-structured tryout plan ensures you cover all necessary softball tryout skills and make the most of your available time. Consider the following when planning:

  1. Set Clear Objectives: Determine what skills and attributes are most important for your team.
  2. Schedule Softball Drills: Allocate specific times for each drill or activity, ensuring a smooth flow and minimizing downtime.
  3. Include Evaluation Time: Build in moments for coaches to discuss and note observations about players’ performances.


Softball Tryout Checklist

Preparation is key to a successful softball tryout. Here’s a checklist to help you get organized:

  • Equipment Ready: Balls, bats, gloves, helmets, bases, and any necessary protective gear.
  • Drill Stations: Set up stations for each planned activity to facilitate smooth transitions.
  • Evaluation Forms: Prepare forms or digital tools (like SkillShark for softball) to record player performances.
  • Staff Assignments: Ensure each coach or helper knows their role and what they’re evaluating.
  • Player Registration: Have a system in place for player check-in and information collection.
  • Safety Measures: Plan for hydration breaks, first aid, and any COVID-19 protocols.


Incorporating a well-thought-out softball tryout format, detailed planning, and a comprehensive checklist into your softball tryouts will significantly improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your player evaluations. Whether you’re evaluating players on the court or the field, the principles of thorough preparation, clear communication, and structured assessments are beneficial. The SkillShark softball evaluation app will keep track, save time, offer efficiency and provide insights for your softball evaluation drills.

That’s a Wrap

These softball tryout drills don’t have to be just limited to tryouts. They can be used as part of your softball practice plan template to help your athletes master critical skills and build their confidence throughout the season. Additionally, if the weather for your tryouts or practices isn’t ideal, shift to conducting indoor softball drills. As long as you have access to an indoor field, let the softball drills continue!

Looking for a sports management app to easily evaluate your softball players? Don’t forget to check out SkillShark before your softball tryout season commences!

FAQ — Softball Player Evaluations

SkillShark is a leading evaluation software and app designed to assist coaches in assessing and improving the performance of softball players. It streamlines the evaluation process by providing instant feedback reports after each assessment, saving coaches valuable time compared to traditional data entry into spreadsheets.

Yes, SkillShark is a versatile tool suitable for evaluating athletes in various sports. While this blog focuses on softball, SkillShark can be applied to multiple sports, making it a valuable resource for coaches across different disciplines.

Getting started with SkillShark is easy. You can request a free demo to learn how the app works and see if it suits your coaching needs.

There are no strings attached to trying out SkillShark, and the demo will provide you with valuable insights into its features and benefits.

SkillShark offers customizable templates for assessments, allowing you to tailor your evaluations to meet specific criteria. It provides instant player report cards, which give you a quick overview of a player’s performance. Additionally, SkillShark allows coaches to enhance evaluations with video feedback, providing a comprehensive views of player’s abilities.

Absolutely! SkillShark is suitable for coaches at all levels, whether you are working with beginner-level players or professionals. The customizable templates and flexibility of the app make it adaptable to your coaching requirements, regardless of the players’ skill levels.

SkillShark is versatile and can be used for both individual player evaluations and team assessments. Coaches can tailor the evaluations to meet their specific coaching objectives, whether they are working with individual players or entire teams.

Yes, SkillShark can be used for softball evaluations across various skill levels, from youth players to professionals. Coaches can adapt the assessment criteria and templates to suit the developmental stage of the players they are working with.

We dive deeper into youth softball drills here.

You can measure softball players on skills such as:
• Hitting
• Speed
• Catching
• Character
• Game Sense

1. Choose softball tryout drills 2-3 weeks ahead of time.
2. Select evaluators 1 week before and communicate with them (i.e., run through the drills and explain what they should look for at each station they are evaluating).
3. Focus on positive relationships. Aside from coaching softball tryouts, take the time to get to know athletes and provide verbal tips for improvement when you can.

SkillShark offers a free printable softball tryout template. All you have to do is download and print, then you are ready to evaluate!

While we do offer a softball evaluation form, we do recommend checking out the SkillShark app, removing pen-and-paper evaluations.

Brenton Barker

Brenton Barker: Former Professional Sports Coach/Manager // Brenton is an Australian with 20 years of experience working with professional athletes. These athletes have combined to win more than ten international events. He holds a Degree in Sports Coaching and was the former Head Advisor to the Japanese Government Sports Institute.