A college softball coach manages the softball team for a college or university during games and practice. The coach recruits and develops players, sets overall strategy for the team and reviews rosters of opposing teams to determine the best strategies for beating them. Coaches work to promote teamwork and a competitive spirit among their players. They determine who among their players will play specific positions and in specific games. In the United States, college softball players usually are women; college baseball is played by men.
College softball coaches can spend a significant amount of time scouting new players. Strong players can help the team win, and winning equals success for the college softball coach. The college softball coach reviews videos of up-and-coming players and travels to high schools to watch the players in games. They also travel during the softball season to games at other schools. The softball season generally runs from February through June, including postseason championship play.
Bats, balls and other equipment are an important part of college softball. The college softball coach sometimes oversees the purchasing of equipment and coordinates the buying of team uniforms, although these jobs are often performed by others in the college's athletic department. The coach might also be involved in raising money for the school's softball program through fundraisers and other events.
There are different levels of college softball coaches, including head coaches, associate head coaches and assistant coaches. There also are coaches for specific areas of softball, such as pitching or hitting. The size and success of the school's softball program can determine the number of coaches it employs. Sometimes coaches, especially those in lower-level positions, are volunteers.
In the United States, the majority of college softball teams play under the rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). There are more than 600 NCAA member colleges and universities that have softball programs. Many college softball coaches were once players themselves at these schools.
The head softball coach can make or break the college or university softball team, so the coach is often carefully vetted. The hiring school will look at prior experience and success both as a coach and as a player. Many college softball coaches start out in lower-level coaching positions and work their way up to head coaching jobs.
For some college softball coaches, especially those managing top-ranked teams, coaching the team is their entire career. They are not required to perform any roles other than those associated with the softball program. Other college softball coaches might be expected to have advanced degrees in physical education or other related fields and teach classes in addition to coaching.