Softball Strength Training
Female athletes are often hesitant to use strength training to their advantage. Those who clear this psychological hurdle always seem to discover that developing strength and power is one of the best things they can do for their long-term sport performance, and health.
Becoming a better softball player requires high levels of power while hitting, throwing, pitching, and running. A sports training program can enhance all of these skills through plyometrics, Olympic lifts, and bodyweight or external resistance strength work.
Leg and core work should be the top priorities. They are the major generators of force in every skill needed on the softball field. Don’t spend all your time on forearms and shoulder training at the expense of building up these key power sources. Those minor areas should only account for about 10% of your efforts.
Females often have to pay extra attention to upper body work compared to males, but the effort put in is a valuable investment. It will prevent injuries and make a dramatic change in what you do on the field, particularly with hitting and throwing.
Some rotator cuff drills and grip strength are smart exercise choices to enhance the stability of the shoulder region, often a problem area for softball players.
Targeted flexibility work can be a benefit to individuals who have poor range of motion at certain joints. Although not a need for everyone, reducing movement limitations will help infielders to stay low on ground balls, catchers to take stress off the knees and low back, plus to help pitchers and outfielders generate more power when throwing.
Softball Speed & Agility Training
Similar to our suggestions for baseball, improving reaction time and straight-ahead speed are the top goals here.
Everything about softball is based on having quick reactions, and it is a skill that can (and should) be trained. Lateral movement, hand-eye drills, and quick hip turns are skills that you want to focus on in your speed training.
Sprint work is also important for game skills like tracking fly balls, and base running. A combination of better running technique, improved acceleration mechanics, and strength building will go a long way towards playing faster on the bases and in the field.
Conditioning for Softball
The conditioning needs in softball are vastly different from many other team sports. But it is still an essential component of becoming an elite softball player and should not be overlooked.
Softball players should maintain a solid aerobic base year-round to maximize their recovery and their physical development. The body adapts to stress much faster when your aerobic conditioning is sound.
Building an aerobic foundation for softball means doing some steady-state physical activity for 20 minutes or more. This could involve running, biking, swimming, circuit training, or many other activities.
Injury Prevention for Softball
Shoulder and ankle problems persist at all levels of softball, and a strong workout plan can lower your risk to encounter either of them. Female athletes in particular are at increased risk for ACL and MCL tears in the knee.
The shoulders bear extra stress when the lower body and core are not strong enough to generate power, so proper training for these areas would make a big difference right off the bat. Then, targeted drills to protect the rotator cuff, shoulder girdle, and the elbows would be wise to incorporate for further safety.
Ankle sprain severity can be minimized if the surrounding ligaments are as strong and stable as possible. Balance and strength drills for the lower leg can help protect it from major trauma.
Non-contact knee injuries for females in sports is at an epidemic level. Strong and flexible hips are the best protection from ACL and MCL issues, which clearly can be trained and improved with the right exercises.
Youth Softball Training Considerations
Young, energetic softball players should build a great athletic foundation just as kids in other sports do. One skill that requires an even great emphasis is hand-eye coordination, which is critical for hitting and fielding success.
For girls starting at age 7 or so, it is time to start introducing some basic hip and core strength drill into their activities to prevent future knee and back problems. Done correctly at this early age, they will enjoy the benefits of the exercises while simultaneously having fun.
Younger girls can also take steps toward building upper body strength to get a jump on eliminating a potential weakness later in life. Simple bodyweight exercises are enough to stimulate very positive developmental changes.
And just like kids everywhere, young softball players need to be active and moving constantly to discover the best way to run, cut and react. Regardless of sport, today’s youth needs to be given every opportunity to be active in their early years, as it has so many benefits for their health and physical ability.
Softball Training at Power Source
Central Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire softball players can train with us in any of our elite programs. We’ll tailor your training specifically to target your greatest areas of strength and power needs, as well as help protect you from any potential injury risks, in our Group Personal Training Program.
Our Speed & Agility Classes are designed to enhance the sprint and agility technique through expert coaching, video analysis, sprint treadmills, and a handful of other tools.
At certain times of year we also run week-long Speed Clinics, and are open to working with teams and organizations to set up a private clinic just for your players. Feel free to contact us at any time to inquire about training for an individual athlete, or private clinic/team training options.