If you need a tryout format for your league, All-Stars, or for an individual team, here are some good guidelines that are flexible and give coaches a good idea of the players’ abilities.
- Make sure you run them – Whatever distances your bases are, make sure they run a dash from home to first and a dash from home to second. Time and log everything!
HINT: Run them side by side if you are running in the outfield. The competition makes for better times.
- Hitting will make or break a team – Have a coach or a consistent pitching machine throw about 10 pitches to every player. Giving only 3 or 4 pitches may eliminate some good (albeit nervous) hitters. Don’t always look for the guy who can knock one over the fence if he strikes out a lot. Look for the guys who hit the ball consistently hard, hopefully, gap doubles. While some players are hitting, make sure you have other groups doing something else, such as running or fielding. Don’t put all the guys on the field and have them play a game…..yet. When picking your team, always pick the guy that may hit for average and hopefully, some power. Remember, base hits will win you more ball games than the occasional long ball.
- Fielding – When hitting to them, make sure you hit pop-ups, grounders, line drives, slow rollers, and make them go right and left. I would take a guy who is a below-average hitter and an above-average fielder rather than a good hitter and a poor fielder (you just run out of places to hide them on defense, especially if you have more than one of this type of player). Offense wins games but pitching and defense prevent losses. Another potential problem to avoid is the guy that is very limited to one position. This absolutely will hurt you more than you can imagine. You will find yourself realigning an entire team’s defense when that one catcher-only or 1st baseman-only player is on your roster. Let me list what positions need what attributes:
Catcher – Look for a loud, aware, take-charge guy. Maybe even the smartest and most baseball-knowledgeable player on your team. You can’t have a slow catcher, he must be agile and quick. If not, sooner or later it will come back to haunt you. 1st baseman- Also can’t be extremely slow or it will hurt you. He must be able to cover some ground as more infield errors occur from bad throws than missed balls! Good hands will save your team more than you may think considering how many times this position touches the ball!
2nd baseman – Quick hands and quick feet. Doesn’t have to be very big so he needs to be able to make contact at the plate especially if he is small and doesn’t bring much pop with the bat.
Shortstop – The leader of your infield with quick hands and feet; hopefully, fast. If he can’t cover the whole left side of the infield, then he should be a 2nd baseman. Should be very athletic and maybe your leadoff or #2 hitter unless he is of your best power sources.
3rd baseman – Strong arm, doesn’t have to be the quickest but should be able to cover the line because your shortstop will cover to his left if he can’t reach it. The older the player, the more he is looked at as a power guy.
Left Fielder – Should be able to charge in very well because he needs to play deeper than most of your outfielders due to so many right-handed pull hitters. Doesn’t need the best arm but couldn’t hurt. Many times he may have your outfield’s weakest arm.
Center Fielder – Good to great arm (if you are lucky), should be one of the best and quickest athletes on your team. If he can’t cover much ground, don’t pick him or put him in left or right if he has a superior arm. He gives the corner outfielders confidence. Remember.the game is won “up the middle!”
Right Fielder – Big arm, needs to make the longest throws on the field. Again, the older the player, the more he is expected to hit for power. Doesn’t need great speed, covers a limited amount of ground.
- Always watch players warm-up and practice when they are not “in the spotlight.” That will tell you a lot about how they play.
- Always make sure most of your team can pitch or catch. You can never run out of those. Pitchers at the younger levels tend to be the most athletic and/or advanced players.
- In the end, play a game. Here’s the best idea I have. Line them up and number off by threes. The 1’s hit, the 2’s play infield, and the 3’s play outfield. A coach or machine pitches. Start them with a 1 ball and 1 strike count to speed it up. Pitch average fastball speed for the age group, nothing on either extreme. You will see a lot of repetitions, situations, etc. and the guys will relax and have some fun.
Coaching Notes When Evaluating Baseball Talent
+Think Arm Speed, Bat Speed, Foot Speed
+Remember, kids know how to play, some just don’t “test” as well as others.
+And Never Forget Attitude And That Of The Family Too!
Remember, If You Can Hit They Will Find A Place to Play You
The only way to get enough swings may be a backyard batting cage and pitching machine.
Here’s our 45 different pitching machines or 14 batting cages on BaseballTips.com
Coach John Peter, presently aged 60 something, is the publisher of Baseball Tips.com and a lifelong student of the greatest game on earth.
After being asked to find a more suitable occupation at age 26, many seasons after donning his first uni at age 7, he has transcended his skills into the much more important role of coach and especially as an instructor. He prides himself as seldom having charged any player or coach for a single lesson! He searches local players with a less-than-stable homelife to perhaps help those who have less reason to stay in the game. “This game has been wonderful to my family and has afforded me a lifestyle to instruct any local player or coach who seeks my knowledge!”