Daily Archives: August 13, 2011

The trouble with tryouts

It’s that time of year in the fastpitch softball world — tryout time. A time of nervousness, hope and frustration.

But today’s post isn’t about the players. It’s actually about the challenges of running tryouts.

I have been a coach with two organizations, and have been able to watch parts of other tryouts, and most of what I’ve seen and experienced has been the same. The focus is primarily on individual skills.

Those are important, but it can penalize the kids who may not quite have the skills but have a lot of game sense or other qualities that make them good players. This is not a complaint — because I don’t have a solution. When you’re looking at a lot of players in a short amount of time it’s tough to do much more.

It’s not like soccer, where you can spend some time looking at skills, then divide the players up and have the scrimmage for an hour. Even if you did that, there’s no guarantee that the ball will be hit to any particular player, or that hitters will face the best pitchers. If the pitching is uneven, certain hitters can look better than others by default.

So I throw the question out: how do you structure your tryouts? Has anyone found an effective way to look beyond skills at soft skills such as game sense, or having a feel for when to steal a base, or other things like that? If so, I’d love to hear about it — and I’m sure everyone else would too.

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