What is a UT (Utility player) in softball? (Detailed look)

Within the fast-paced realm of softball, versatility is key. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a team full of players who could excel at multiple positions on the field? Almost like a jack-of-all-trades, or swiss army knife but for softball. This player is called a utility player (or UT for short) and is a dream player for a coach.

What is a UT (Utility player) in softball? A utility player in softball is a versatile athlete skilled in multiple positions. They can seamlessly switch between infield, outfield, and sometimes even pitching & catching roles, offering their coach flexibility in game strategy. Their adaptability not only fills gaps due to injuries or tactical changes but also provides valuable depth to the team roster.

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Simply put a utility player is an asset to a team. They can be quite rare however as many players tend to eventually specialize at a particular position as they grow older. As you can imagine – the more you practice at a certain position, the more specialized you become – which makes it harder for softball players to excel at more than one position.

If you want to learn more about why utility players are so important, and how you might be able to become one – read on!

Benefits Utility Players provide

As mentioned – the utility player can provide many benefits to a team. Some are obvious but some you may not have thought about. This section outlines their major strengths.

Versatility in Player Positions

When we talk about a utility player, we’re basically referring to someone who’s a jack-of-all-trades on the field. They have this incredible knack for filling multiple roles, which means they can easily jump into different positions during the game. It’s like having a player who’s fluent in the language of softball, no matter where they’re placed.

Strategic Depth for Coaches

For a coach, having a utility player is like having a secret weapon. It opens up a wealth of strategic options. They can put the utility player at one position one inning and at another in the next inning. Instead of being restricted to rigid game plans, coaches can pivot their strategies and play their utility player wherever the need is greatest. It’s a game-changer, both literally and figuratively.

Injury Backup

Like any sports – injuries are a part of the game, and can throw a wrench in the best-laid plans. But here’s where our utility heroes shine yet again. If someone gets hurt, utility players are normally right there and ready to step in. This is especially important to have in travel teams where softball roster sizes don’t tend to be that big to begin with!

Enhanced Team Morale and Cohesion

On the emotional side of things, utility players tend to be looked at as leaders for a team. Their willingness to play wherever they’re needed sends a clear message: it’s all about the team. This kind of selfless attitude shows dedication to the team and helps boost morale.

Development and Learning

I haven’t met too many kids (or adults for that matter) that don’t enjoy learning. From a growth or personal development perspective, utility players are in a unique spot. Because they get to learn, gain experience, and excel at so many facets of the game, they often come away stronger and have a more comprehensive skill set. It’s like taking a full immersion course in softball.

Roster Flexibility

Similar to depth, utility players give coaches more flexibility when setting up the roster. Since utility players can cover various positions, coaches can introduce specialized players to the lineup or give newcomers or less experienced players more shots at playing.

what does ut mean in softball

How are they used in a game?

So far we’ve looked at the benefits that a utility player (UT) provides from both a personal and game level. You may at this point be wondering or trying to think of some example situations where they come in handy. Here are a few to help.

Matchup Advantages

Imagine the opposing team has a powerhouse hitter coming up to bat with a runner on 1st or 2nd and the game is at a critical point. Assuming the utility player has a good arm and can play in the outfield, a coach might choose to move this player to left or right field where they anticipate the ball might be hit. If the ball is hit to this utility player – they may provide a better chance of keeping the runner from scoring than the previous fielder.

Pinch Running

We didn’t mention this earlier, but in most cases utility players tend to also be good runners due to their athleticism. Again imagine it is late in the game and your team is tied or losing. One of your hitters has just hit a single, but is quite slow on the base paths. Because utility players can sub in numerous defensive positions, a coach can pinch run the slower base runner for the utility player without worrying about defensive issues next inning. This gives your team a much better chance of scoring a run.

Overcoming injuries

Injuries are the worst part of sports. Imagine your 3rd baseman goes down with an injury and your bench doesn’t have anyone that has ever played the position at a high level. This causes frustration for the both player and team in the event that the player causes errors which impact the game.

A utility player on your bench or starting lineup almost acts as a backup for multiple positions. In this case you could move your utility player over to 3rd base and keep the game moving without missing a beat.

Providing Rest

This is similar to my last point on injuries. However – if you’ve ever been to a tournament, you’ll quickly notice how tired players can get. This is also not unique to tournaments as any given day a player may be having an off day, or be busy with other commitments. Having a utility player that can be rotated through different positions in these situations ensures that other players get short breaks without compromising the team’s overall performance.

Best Softball Glove for a Utility player

As you can see a Utility player could potentially move around quite a bit throughout the season. In some cases they may even move positions multiple times in a single game! As players get older – they’ll normally have multiple gloves at their disposal.

Younger players who aren’t quite at that level may want to consider the Easton Ghost glove shown below as it is sized so it can be used for multiple positions and is priced well for what features it offers.

best softball glove for utility players

Generally infielders look for a glove size around 12 or 12.5″ while outfielders prefer 13″ and more (read more here. The Easton Ghost above is 12.75″ in size so it is right in the middle. This glove provides a great custom fit so it will adjust for many different players regardless of size.

As an aside – if you are interested in learning more about gloves – you can check out our post on the best fastpitch gloves where we look at multiple positions and price ranges.

How to become a UT player

Not everyone wants to be a utility player. It takes time, effort and patience and sometimes can cause an averse effect where you don’t master any position to be able to play at a high level. If you do want to be a utility player, here are a couple of things you can do to help set yourself up for success.

Practice, Practice, Practice

I know no one wants to hear the word practice, but if you want to be a utility player – you need to invest in even more of it.

You’ll want to practice mastering the fundamentals of each position – ideally moving around at a younger age and not specializing. This might mean taking extra ground balls at all positions around the infield followed by working with the outfielders while they chase down pop fly’s. In extreme situations it could even mean working with pitchers or catchers during their field practice times.

Outside of practice – you’ll also want to focus on training that supports a well rounded fitness regimen. For example, you’ll want to work on speed and explosiveness in the outfield, agility around the infield, arm strength for pitching, and leg strength & endurance for catcher. As you can see that is a lot of extra work!

Play, Play, Play

Ahhh – this sounds a bit better than practice, but is almost just as important for a utility player. Sometimes there aren’t enough games or innings to go around an entire team. If that sounds like you and you want to excel at different positions, you may want to look into playing for different teams or leagues at different positions.

This might be hard as not many players can play for different teams during a season. Instead you could consider playing at a lower level league, join in pick up games with friends or play at your weaker positions during practice games. This would have to be run be your coach of course!

what is a utility player in softball

What makes a good UT?

When it comes to utility players, there are a few general traits that you see from most of them.

Learning mindset

If you like to learn and challenge yourself, then being a utility player shouldn’t be an issue for you. Some players just don’t and like to stay in their lane which is fine.

As a utility player (UT) you’ll probably want to watch games a little closer and pay attention to the different positions and how they move. You’ll learn the strategies and responsibilities tied to each role. After all understanding the “why” behind each position can be immensely beneficial.

In addition, engaging and talking with coaches and other experienced players will help provide insights and tips specific to each position.

Mental flexibility

While the physical skills are essential, the mental aspect of being a utility player is just as critical. You have to remember that most other players on the field stick to their one and only position and have taken more reps and practice than a utility player has.

Having the ability to switch from one position to another, or come off the bench in a crucial situation can be challenging, especially in high-pressure situations. Utility players have to have the mental toughness to be alert and adaptable throughout the entire game and be ready in an instant to play at their best.


As a utility player, you’ll want to get to know each and every one of your teammates and their tendencies. For example if you enter the game as a shortstop, you will want to know how much ground your 2nd and 3rd basemen can cover. Although it’s hard to explain teamwork often involves an unspoken understanding, or an ability to “read” your teammates and anticipate their actions.

On the flip side – teammates also have to trust you as a utility player as well. They want to know if you are taking over their position on the field that you’ll be able to handle the responsibilities that come with it.

Do Utility Players still hit?

Yes, utility players can still hit during a game. Once a utility player is in the lineup, regardless of their fielding position, they are expected to take their turn at bat. If a utility player is in the starting lineup – they are simply treated just like any other regular player in the lineup and will take their turn when their time comes in the batting order.

That being said – there is not always a guarantee that a utility player will get to take a turn swinging the bat. This occurs when:

  • The utility player entered the game late and the order of the player she replaced does not get reached again.
  • There is a designated player (DP) rule in place.
  • The player is subbed out before they get a chance to hit (replaced by a better hitter, injured, etc).


We hope at the conclusion of this article that you understand what a UT (utility player) is and the importance they have on a team. They are kind of like that multi-tool gadget you keep in your pocket. Super handy, right?

They’re the ones who jump from one spot to another on the field, making sure everything’s running smoothly. Their versatility? Pure gold for the team. It keeps opponents on their toes, guessing what’s coming next. And honestly, having a utility player is like having a safety net; they’ve got the team’s back, no matter the situation.

In the grand game of softball, they’re the unsung heroes who rarely steal the spotlight, but probably should!