Softball Tryouts

How to get ready for softball tryouts

Whether you call them tryouts, a play date or team selection, going through softball tryouts can be nerve-wracking.  It always brings that feeling of “what if they don’t pick me?” How can you help alleviate the stress and anxiety associated with tryout process?  The key to a great softball tryout can be summed up in one word – preparation.  Preparation is the single most important aspect of taking any stressful situation and making it more manageable.

Spend the weeks or months up to the tryout doing softball drills, working on hitting at the batting cages, getting a hitting or pitching coach and playing at the park with some of your friends or teammates.  All of these are good ways to stay in shape, increase your softball skills and ensure you are ready for the tryouts.  The more confident you feel about your skills the less you will be nervous at the actual tryout.

Another important factor to preparation is ensuring you are ready the day of the tryouts.  Make sure to drink lots of water the day before the tryouts so you are properly hydrated.  Eat good, nutritious foods in the days leading up to the tryout. Make sure you have all your softball gear when you head to the field – glove, helmet, bat, batting gloves, cleats, face mask, water bottle and extra softballs. Arrive at the tryouts at least 15 minutes before they are scheduled to begin, 30 minutes ahead is even better.  There will likely be a lot of girls at the field. You may have trouble finding parking.  You will probably have to get a number or sign in before starting and you’ll want extra time to warm-up and calm those nerves.

Why are there softball tryouts?

My athlete is playing Rec ball, do we really need tryouts?  Most leagues, even at the less competitive levels, will have tryouts for new players. This allows the coaches to see what each girls’ starting skill level is to ensure that they are grouped with other girls with similar skills.  Ideally you will have all the girls who have never played or only played a season or two on the same teams so they will all be at roughly the same starting point.

There is also a safety component.  A 10 year old girl who has been playing softball for 4 years will most likely be able to throw the ball harder and with more accuracy than a 10 year old girl playing her first season.  For the safety of both girls it would be better if the more experienced player were on a team with other girls of a similar skill level.

It also makes the game competition more evenly matched.  You don’t want a group of 12 year olds who have played since they were 6 playing against 12 year olds who just started.  It will be discouraging for the new team and the experienced team will not be able to improve their skills as much because they are not being challenged by similarly skilled teams.

As the player moves up in skill level the tryouts will become more competitive. The nature of moving up in level is that each team wants to be as competitive as possible. This benefits the players in that their skills will progress as they are challenged more.  It can be difficult if you’re not picked for a more competitive team but it will give you feedback on what skills you can work on in the off season to help improve your chances to get picked at the next tryout.

What to expect at softball tryouts

The tryouts themselves should be pretty routine especially if you have played organized softball before.  You will most likely be trying out with girls your same age or skill level.  There will be a few different stations each player will go through with a couple of additional skill stations if you are trying out for pitcher or catcher.  Your tryout may run a little differently but in general you can expect these types of activities:

  • Introduction – the coaches and organizers will tell you what to expect and introduce themselves
  • Stretching and warm-up
  • Defensive workout: catching fly balls, fielding ground balls, throwing to the different bases etc.
  • Offensive workout: bunting and hitting (with a live pitcher or more likely a pitching machine)
  • Running bases: this may be timed and depending on your level may include sliding and/or diving as well
  • Pitching and catching: if you are trying out for one of these skill positions be prepared to show it at the tryout
  • Wrap up – the coaches will tell you what the next step is.  You may not find out at this point if you made the team but may be told you will get a follow-up call

What to bring to the tryouts

You need to be prepared and have the proper clothes and gear with you to the tryouts. It’s best to wear softball pants (if you have them), softball cleats and a comfortable shirt. You will be running, throwing and possibly sliding so even if it’s really hot I would not suggest shorts. Sweatpants tend to get holes or rips in them when sliding because they’re just not as sturdy as softball or baseball pants. At a minimum you should have your own glove. It’s also good to have your own batting helmet. If you have a bat and batting gloves bring those as well. If you’re just starting out you will probably be able to borrow a bat during the tryouts so you don’t have to purchase that ahead of time.

What are the coaches looking for?

Naturally they are looking for the best possible players.  However, that is not only based on how well the girls perform the skills on the field.  Attitude, coach-ability, hustle, positive attitude and general athleticism are just as important. Most coaches will take girls with good skills, potential, attitude and hustle over well-skilled players with a bad attitude any day.

This goes for parents as well.  It’s a not so well kept secret that coaches draft the parents along with the girls.  A parent who is negative, obnoxious to other parents, criticizes their player or worse other girls or is rude to the coach will make a coach think twice before drafting your child.

After Softball Tryouts

Once the tryouts are over you will find out whether you made the team or what team you are on if they were league-wide tryouts.  It may take a few days for the results.  If you did not get picked for the team or league that you were trying for don’t be discouraged.  Each team you play on will offer opportunities to improve your skills and learn something new.  If you want to continue playing after the season is over just make sure to put in the time and effort during the off season to improve your skills and attitude before the next tryout.

If you want some more in-depth information about what to do and not to do at softball tryouts see this article.

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