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.


About Ken Krause

Ken Krause has been coaching girls fastpitch softball for nearly 20 years. Some may know him as a contributing columnist to Softball Magazine, where he writes Krause's Korner -- a regular column sponsored by Louisville Slugger. Ken is also the Administrator of the Discuss Fastpitch Forum, the most popular fastpitch discussion forum on the Internet. He is currently a Three Star Master Coach with the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), and is certified by both the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and American Sports Education Program (ASEP). Ken is a private instructor specializing in pitchers, hitters, and catchers. He teaches at North Shore Baseball Academy in Libertyville, IL and Pro-Player Consultants in McHenry, IL.

Posted on August 13, 2011, in Coaching. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. We have “open” practices before the actual tryouts. This gives us plenty of time to see girls individually and in a team setting. Tryouts are still tough when you have 40 girls show up for an hour and a half tryout.


  2. I have been burned by tryouts a kid looks like a stud but fizzles when the lights go on? On the other hand I have taken a developmental player who works hard and learns and surpassses the others? Open practice thing is nice when you can draw kids but in WI it seesm everyone does there tryouts the same weekend?


  3. I think we all have been burned at one time or another. But it’s like that old saying — the contest doesn’t always go to the strongest nor the race to the swiftest. But that’s the way to bet. That being said, I have had a few developmental players work out as well. The right attitude and level of desire can go a long way.


  4. I agree Heart can mean alot that is hard too measure in tryouts though….


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