Are you first-time softball coach looking for tips? Or maybe you’ve got some coaching experience under your belt but you want to improve? Either way, here at Brick Dust University we know that coaching fastpitch softball isn’t always easy. That’s why we put together this guide for you, with this 5 Tips for Coaching Fastpitch Softball blog post.
Off-the-field Fastpitch Softball Coaching Tips
As a coach, your job is training your players to improve their softball skills. In many cases, however, you’ll need to be competent in areas off the field too.
Whether you’re coaching for a high school or travel team, you’ll find yourself in the role of “manager” more than “coach” at times. What “manager” skills does a softball coach need?
Often, you’ll be involved in fundraising, coordinating with facilities managers, and even dealing with parents (more on parents later). In situations like these, you are the representative for your team, its first ambassador.
When dealing with community partners, you should have sharp communication and organization skills. Know how to present your team well. Fundraising and sponsorships depend on your ability to convince a donor that your team is worth it.
To stay on top of all your off-the-field tasks, consider getting a free project management software like Trello.
It can be overwhelming handling the administrative tasks along with training your players. Staying organized or even delegating some projects to an assistant coach or volunteer parent can take some of the burdens off you.
One last off-the-field tip is first-aid preparation. Players will get hurt, it’s inevitable. Be prepared for this or an emergency by planning ahead. Put together a first aid kit that travels with the team and consider taking a first aid or CPR course yourself.
Grow Your Players, Not Your Wins
As a coach, you should focus on developing your players’ skills above all else. Winning is great, of course, but if your players aren’t learning anything then it’s a waste of time for them and for you. You want to inspire your players, encourage them to do better, and challenge them.
The best coaches emphasize the importance of taking your skills off the field to excel later in life.
Communicate values about hard work, respect, teamwork, and self-improvement. When this is your overarching goal, you’ll maximize the softball experience for your players.
In addition to keeping a team-first attitude, remember to be honest and fair with your players. If you want their trust and respect, you must give them yours too.
When you stress working your hardest and working as a team, the number of wins will increase anyway. The most competitive teams are coherent and hard-working.
Do Your Own Coaching Research
Even if you are an experienced coach, you could always stand to learn a few new things. And if you’re a complete beginner, then doing your research is essential! You’re not expected to know about every softball drill and coaching tip that exists.
Take advantage of online softball resources. Join forums, read questions other coaches in your shoes have asked. Ask a few questions yourself. You’d be surprised how many fastpitch softball coaching tips and resources you can find.
Look at videos and tutorials to learn new drills you can try with your team. It’s important to learn as much as you can by reading the advice of others. But don’t just follow anything blindly!
Doing your research means keeping an open mind for new ideas while remaining critical. Learn how to incorporate new things with your existing methods, to the benefit of your players.
Handling Disrespectful Softball Players
Managing backtalk and disrespect can be tricky. If you’re coaching teenagers, though, don’t be surprised if you encounter it.
Typically, when they act out at practice or in games they want attention. Punishing them by making them run laps may not be so effective, then.
Instead, try putting the player in charge of a drill or task. Give them some responsibility that forces them to engage and take practice seriously. If this doesn’t work, take them aside and talk one-on-one about why their behavior is unacceptable.
You can also prevent bad attitudes at practice before they happen. Keep it active – downtime can lead to lazy, distracted players. Also, set the same standards for everyone no matter the skill level.
Encourage your less talented players to hustle as much as you do your star players. Setting the same expectations for everyone shows your team that you believe in all of them, and will help dispel feelings of animosity they might harbor if they aren’t starters. Requiring hustle from your players at all times also teaches them to be passionate about the game.
Another important tip for dealing with disrespect is keeping your cool. Don’t get frazzled.
If you’re easily rattled it sets a bad example for your players, whom you expect to keep their cool on the field. Lastly, try to pair positive reinforcement with criticism.
Feedback that is always negative could result in negative attitudes from your players.
Dealing with Softball Parents
In much the same way you should practice honesty with your players, you should be genuine with parents. Keep in mind that softball parents are emotionally invested because it’s their kid who’s playing.
Tensions can flare. To reduce these, always make time to meet with concerned parents.
Establish a waiting period – allow at least 24 hours to pass before parents can come see you about a certain issue. This gives everyone a chance to cool down and discuss things rationally.
When speaking with parents, be open about your goals for the team, the strategy to get there, and how it involves their daughter. Parents calm down when they know what’s going on.
Remind parents also that you take a team-based approach. Unlike them, you cannot simply focus on an individual player. You have to do what’s best for everyone, which means making tough decisions sometimes.
Finally, advise parents to practice good behavior on the sidelines. Parents’ reactions during games have a huge impact on their kids – even the other players. As a coach and as parents, you should be setting good examples of responsible adults for your players and children to follow.
Conclusion: Coaching fastpitch softball isn’t a breeze. It’s challenging but rewarding. Of course, you already knew that – otherwise you wouldn’t be coaching at all! It can be overwhelming at times but if you stick to your goals, you’re sure to make it the best experience for yourself and your team.
We hope you enjoyed this 5 Tips for Coaching Fastpitch Softball post in the BDU Blog section.
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