8 Best Softball Drills For Your Next Tryout
As a softball coach, one of the most daunting tasks is conducting tryouts.
This process entails carefully assessing the abilities of your players in different positions, identifying those who have a positive attitude towards developing their skills, and ultimately selecting a team that can best meet your coaching objectives for the season.
To achieve these goals, it is important to have your players participate in drills that can showcase their potential and capabilities for the team.
If you’re looking for an easier way to evaluate your softball players, where you will eliminate softball forms and data entry, this can be accomplished using the SkillShark App, the leading choice for coaches, and the highest-rated evaluation app, and softball evaluation app on Google. Using SkillShark, you can easily score athletes on any criteria using your smartphone or tablet.
The Importance Of Warming-Up
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.
Start the warm-up with a team jog to get the blood moving, followed by a dynamic warm-up.
The dynamic warm-up can include different movement exercises like:
- High knees
- Side shuffles
- Karaoke, and
- Wind sprints.
In addition to traditional stretching exercises like Frankenstein’s, players can also incorporate forward and backward arm circles and a standing free stretch of their choice. These stretches can help prepare players for both the defensive and offensive parts of the game.
Don’t Forget To Cool Down
At the junior level of competition, it’s common for coaches and players to overlook the importance of cooling down properly. Some rush through or skip it entirely, assuming their youth will protect them from injury. However, stretching not only benefits athletes physically but also instills healthy habits.
By dedicating just 20 minutes after each session to a mix of dynamic and static stretching, players can reduce the risk of injury and speed up recovery. Dynamic stretches are best before competition, while a combination of dynamic and static stretches should be used for cooling down.
An effective recovery protocol should also include a nutritious post-game meal and rehydration with water and sports drinks. This will help replenish energy levels and repair muscle damage.
Coaches should prioritize educating parents and players on proper warm-up and cool-down techniques.
8 Softball Drills For Evaluating Your Players
1. Round the Bases
This softball drill is designed to develop players’ baserunning and conditioning in a fun environment.
- Separate the tryout players into three teams
- The first team are baserunners on home plate
- The second team are fielders starting behind 1st base
- The third team are fielders starting behind 3rd base,
- The coach or player positions themselves 10-12 feet from home plate in a soft-toss position.
- The first baserunning player steps to the plate.
- Next, the coach tosses a “softball,” and the player hits a line drive and then proceeds to round the bases.
- The 1st player in the fielding lines from bases 1st and 3rd immediately runs to field the ball.
- As soon as both fielders touch the ball, the baserunner must stop.
- Baserunners earn one point for each base they touch.
- Repeat the drill until all players have had at least one chance to round the bases.
- Ensure you keep track of points to declare a team the winner.
2. The Shoestring Catch
This 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.
- The player and coach stand approximately 15-20 yards apart in the outfield.
- The coach will throw or hit a ball directly at the feet of the player in front of them.
- The players will sprint in, attack the ball, and attempt to use proper technique to make the play (shoestring catch)
- After making the play, the player returns the ball to the coach, returning to her starting position.
- Reassure players that the ball will not bounce up higher than the knees; this will allow them to catch the ball with confidence.
3. Power the Hips
This drill is designed to develop hip power in the swing.
- Ensure every player has a bat.
- Place cones at a safe distance from each other but close to the fence.
- Provide every player with a ball.
- Ensure that players are aware that turning their hips through the hitting zone is the focus of this drill.
- Have players stand at their designated cones while ensuring or “double-checking” that there is sufficient safe distance between each player.
- The coach will blow the whistle, and players will begin hitting their ball into the fence while powering their hips through the hitting zone.
4. Fast Hands
This drill is specifically designed to improve hand speed in players while hitting.
- Have the player stand at home plate in their athletic batting stance
- The coach is set up to the side of the player.
- The players assume their batting stance, ensuring they are in an athletic position and relaxed.
- 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.
- The coach throws a soft toss, and the player swings away.
- Repeat, with a focus on speed, concentration, and of course, proper techniques.
5. The Three-Minute Drill
Developing arm, pitching speed and throwing endurance.
- The pitcher stands on the mound.
- A coach or player is next to the picture with a bucket full of softballs.
- The catcher is at home plate.
- The pitcher throws as many pitches as she can in one minute before taking a one-minute rest. She then repeats this two more times for a total of 3 minutes of pitching, hence the name the “three-minute drill.”
- Ensure the pitcher completes her pre-pitch routine each and every time.
- Once the pitch is completed, have the player or coach quickly pass the pitcher the next ball.
6. Start From Second
This softball drill is designed to teach players how to score when on second base.
- Have three players in the outfield with a catcher at home base.
- All of the remaining players should be in a line directly behind 2nd base.
- The coach or another player is at home base with the bat and balls.
- An assistant coach or another player plays the role of the 3rd base coach.
- Have the coach or players hit fungo singles.
- Now, the 2nd base runner will try to score unless she is stopped by the 3rd base coach.
- Repeat this drill by giving each player multiple chances to score from 2nd base.
- Ensure that the 3rd base coach provides the runner with verbal and visual cues.
- To make the drill slightly more challenging, you can have players start from 1st base rather than 2nd.
7. Outfield Grounders
This drill focuses on developing correct fielding techniques while serving as an excellent warm-up for players.
Have your tryout players line up in the outfield or put them into designated outfield positions. A coach, player, or even a machine will hit the balls to the field.
- The player, coach, or machine hits a ball to each outfielder for them to field using the correct techniques.
- 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
This drill helps the coach evaluate the core strength and balance of the pitcher
- The pitcher will be on bent knees, preferably facing the catcher with the coach nearby.
- Ensure the pitcher starts in the “open-door” position with her wrists cocked.
- As she swings back, have the pitcher complete a full windmill throw to the catcher.
- Be sure to complete 3 sets of 10 to 15 throws, pitching with an emphasis on snapping the wrist.
- Ensure the pitcher has a good posture with her core tight and her body straight up and down.
That’s a Wrap
As the tryouts wind down, take a moment to extend your appreciation to each and every player, parent and volunteer who showed up and generously gave their time. Inspire the players with a message of positivity about how wonderful the tryouts were and how thrilled you are for the upcoming season.
Share the details of how and when selections will be made, along with a timeframe for results and how they can access them. This information will certainly help reduce the number of calls and emails you receive in the days to come.
End the day on a high note with a celebratory high-five or fist bump for everyone who participated. With your team now fully prepared, let the games begin!
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