Whether you're coaching the high school team, managing your daughter's youth team, or you were guilted into coaching the rec team by your buddy, there are some easy tips to follow to be a successful softball coach. These tips are purposefully easy to implement, because it shouldn't matter if you're a first-time skipper or you have coached softball your whole life.
Tip #1 - Have A Plan
Players will look to you for the practice schedule; both when practice will be and what practice will entail. Make sure you have prepared a schedule for introductory drills during practice. Focus on practice drills that will better each player, such as throwing, catching a ball, and proper batting techniques. These drills will help your players learn their teammates strengths, the game, and will give you the ability to evaluate areas the team and individual players need improvement.
PRO TIP: Always have a set of drills for each practice, such as playing catch and light running that players can easily repeat. This will provide structure to each practice, empower players to initiate at each practice, and - potentially - encourage the team to do on their own time too.
Tip #2 - Be Positive
Truly, winning isn't everything. It's important to develop skills and have motivation to win, but having fun and making great memories is what's important. Young players and softball pros benefit from their coach instilling a positive attitude and providing encouragement even when mistakes are made.
PRO TIP: It's been proven that learning is more natural when people are having fun and united in a common goal. As the coach, you should be positive, but make sure teammates are also encouraging and having fun. One bad attitude can derail the rest of the team and season.
Tip #3 - Use Correct Equipment
Players can be limited if they don't have the right sized softball glove for their position or too heavy of a softball bat. Ensure each player or player's parents understands how to find the appropriate equipment for success.
PRO TIP: Quality doesn't always mean expensive. Correct sizing for softball bats and softball gloves is important, but so is having the right equipment for safety. Quality batting helmets, softballs, and batting gloves are also vital to success.
Tip #4 - Be Fair
Unless you're coaching the female fastpitch team at a D-I university, treat each player the very same. This means having an effective rotation plan for positions during games and managing time spent for drills during practices. It's your job to let players know what to expect at practices and during games and that should include a non-favoritism agenda.
PRO TIP: If your League doesn't assign you a standing practice schedule, communicate with parents and players as soon as possible to find days and times that work best. Encourage players to attempt new positions at practice. Unless there is a legitimate reason for why they can't play third base, they should still try it out in order to enhance their skills.
Coaching a softball team is difficult. It doesn't matter if your team is comprised of girls or boys, young or old, competitive or recreational. Follow these tips and your reward will be far greater than the trophy you may receive for winning the League. Be organized, take pride, and have fun.