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Evaluating to Develop Player Mechanics

By Eddie Vaca, DraftPro, 11/13/19, 9:45AM CST


Evaluations help facilitate communication between players and their coach

There are so many times when I step onto the field for the first day of practice and see kids who can throw a ball but don't throw it with the correct technique. These kids were never taught throwing mechanics and not only will they be less effective players, but they can end up with injuries in the long run.

Starting player evaluations early helps identify problem areas for coaches and can break down throws, swings, kicks and other moves essential for playing the game effectively and safely. Not only does this help to develop and identify talent on the field but it also keeps the kids safe from injury, especially as they get older and more is asked from them.

How to set up the correct evaluation

Setting up the correct evaluation is crucial to identify problem areas within mechanics training. For instance, when evaluating a youth athlete on running, it's not just time/distance that you want to focus on. There are several subcategories of running that can make a fast runner into a great runner. For instance, you should also be evaluating stride length, as well as arm position and movement. When you set up your evaluation to include subcategories you start thinking about how to break down and teach proper mechanics.

Understand what skills you are evaluating for

Evaluations aren’t primarily about judging but about developing talent. As coaches, we are stewards of the game and our role is to teach the kids how to develop as players. When setting up your evaluation practice, understand what your end goal with the athlete will be and break it into small, manageable chunks. Take baseball, for instance, where you may want to focus on hitting and increasing power hitting within the team. Breaking the evaluation down into those mechanics will help you effectively assess those players and set up the correct evaluation.

Evaluations help facilitate communication between players and their coach. Once you’ve completed your evaluation, you can speak to the athlete about how they want to develop and what it’s going to take to get there, including what additional reps, drills, and practices need to happen to see improvements.

Eddie Vaca is a baseball and soccer coach in Livermore California. He’s a father to 3 youth athletes


While the evaluation process has historically been a pen-and-paper task for coaches, there is an emerging suite of tools designed to improve the coaching process. DraftPro is an AI powered evaluation platform that helps coaches develop youth athletes by taking subjective data and giving recommendations on how to improve. Coaches can set up their own evaluations based on the mechanics they want to see, and then draft players based on their skills sets to evenly distribute talent across the league. While nothing can replace the hands-on work of coaching, DraftPros aims to make the task of choosing players and developing athletes more clear, egalitarian, and effective over time.