• How To Build a Successful High School Fastpitch Softball Program

by Tim Covey

If you are coaching high school softball, you know that building and maintaining a competitive high school softball program is hard work. Each of us are in different situations, and as a result, what works for me in my program might not work perfectly for you.

Some of us have programs that are very advanced, while some of us are still at the ground floor trying to build from scratch.  I coach at a K-12 private school with 430 high school students, while you may coach at a large (or small) public school.

Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum with your program, there are some common things that can help ALL of us as we work towards building (or maintaining) a competitive high school program.

 

Key #1: Learn How to Teach the Game Really Well

If you cannot teach the game well, your players and their parents will not take you seriously. If I took over a high school volleyball program, it would be a disaster. I may know the rules of the game, but I have no idea how to teach it.

Watching the sport does not make me an expert in teaching the sport.   Just because I’ve watched a lot of volleyball, I know that I would be a terrible volleyball coach.

Because I know this,  if I were to take over a volleyball program (which for everyone’s sake hopefully never happens), the first thing I would do is spend a lot of time learning, reading, watching instructional videos, going to conferences, etc. Coaching high school softball is no different.

Learning how to teach the game is something that every good coach never stops doing.

Key #2: Develop Grassroots Level Programs

This might be summer camps for Kindergarten-5th Grade.  Or perhaps you start your own “mini-league.”  We started an “In-House” League for our K-5th Grade students simply because many of them do not go and join their local little league…which means we need to do some things to expose them to the sport.

No matter what you do, you must do something.  Be creative and think “outside the box.”  Youth camps and programs are a great way to make a little extra income doing something you love while also building interest in your program.

And don’t be afraid to start small.  Personally I have had instances where we have had 5 girls show up the first year for certain programs. But you have to start somewhere! 

If you are in a situation where the local Little League is your main feeder program, then consider getting involved at some level. Maybe you invite those kids to your softball camp, or perhaps you take some time to give hitting instruction at one of their practice days.   Even if it is only for a couple of hours for one afternoon your presence will be noticed and appreciated.

Key #3: Find a Pitching Instructor in Your Area

While it does take more than just pitching to win consistently, the reality is that if you do not have any pitching it makes for a long and frustrating season. I am not a pitching instructor. While I could teach some basics, I am well aware that there are others that are more well-trained than myself.

Ask around to find out who the more reputable instructors are in your area and then push kids to them. Better yet: If you can convince a local instructor to join your coaching staff you will have a major asset for the future of your program!

If you live in a rural area that does not have instructors, then you will need to learn how to teach pitching yourself.   If this is you, then get your hands on every pitching video and book that you can, and begin teaching some players in your program. With time and practice, you can learn how to teach it. The more you do it, the more advanced you will become yourself!

Key #4: Be VERY Patient 

Coaching high school softball can be very rewarding, but at the same time the reality is that building a high school program takes time and lots of patience.

While some programs may receive an abundance of transfers that make them great for a year or two, the key to developing a lasting program is having a plan to develop players and interest at all ages.  

Not only will the time and patience in developing a program (rather than a team dependent on transfers) help your teams be competitive every year, it makes coaching much more rewarding as well!

Question:  Are you coaching high school softball? What types of things do you do to promote your program and/or develop players at all age-levels? Leave a comment below or over on Facebook



Tim Covey
Tim Covey

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4 Responses

Tim Covey
Tim Covey

March 14, 2018

Thank Alesha for the comment! It definitely takes time to build and longevity/patience is a huge factor! Blessings on your program!

Alesha Dunlap
Alesha Dunlap

March 05, 2018

Thank you for the article. It is encouraging to a coach with a young HS teach (6th-12 graders) with most of them having no travel ball experience. Also after reading it another confirmation of me being patient with my team.

Tim Covey
Tim Covey

February 17, 2018

Thanks Gerard for the comment. Props for jumping in and taking action! Gotta start somewhere!

Gerard F McGrath
Gerard F McGrath

February 16, 2018

Our school of 3000 children is set way up in the woods, I have coached varsity basketball years ago and had a winning program. However now that my daughter’s have grown and I’m retired, I was asked to coach young jv girls. I have played on many championship teams in my youth. I’ve pitched, played centerfield and shortstop. I just want them to live the game as I do. I guess I’ll just pick up a bat and give it my best.

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