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Conditioning exercises for your softball player

Conditioning Exercises for Your Softball Player

Sport specific conditioning or game speed practicing are not new concepts, but often overlooked is the unique fitness training needs of fastpitch softball position players. Softball athletes execute short explosive movements with varying rest intervals. Softball pitchers and catchers operate at a different frequency than infielders and outfielders. This rest interval difference needs to be taken into consideration by their strength and conditioning program. Many athletes now have specifically tailored fitness programs. Taking this into consideration, here are three examples of a tailored fitness program.

The Power Hitters:
The power hitter’s greatest asset is their ability to generate bat speed through the strike zone. Power hitter’s can hit for high average and/or home runs. Defensively, power players will typically play the catcher or corner infielder positions. For this group, the strength program emphasizes the lower and upper body and core strength development. Conditioning sessions put added emphasis on incorporating medicine ball plyometrics for trunk torque and power development and improving speed-endurance for under 40 yard conditioning.

The Speed Players:
The speed player’s role is defined by their ability to accelerate quickly and maintain a high terminal running velocity. This group of players is typically grouped together as slappers and base stealers. These players typically are middle infielders and outfielders. Don’t underestimate the strength of a speed player, because she may be the strongest player on the team, but the emphasis on strength training is less when compared to speed, endurance, and agility training. Speed player’s typical strengthening routine involves full body exercises like lunges and squats, with less of an emphasis on upper body strength. Agility can be enhanced through cone drills, ladder drills, and short shuttles. The speed endurance targets acceleration and running distances under 40 yards through form running and resistance sprints.

The Pitchers:
Arguable, the pitcher is the most influential player that effects the game’s outcome. They need to be explosive on every pitch, withstand long innings, and pitch multiple games per week. Their lower body and core must be exceptionally strong and powerful while maintaining wide range of motion and flexibility. Like speed players, pitchers strength training focuses are full body workouts with a slightly greater emphasis on lower body strength. Pitchers also need to do extra grip strengthening work and as hip flexors and adductors to improve lower body mobility.

Final Training Considerations:
Off-season and in-season strength training sessions have dramatically different emphasis. In the off-season, a strong emphasis is placed on muscle building and injury prevention. Conversely, in-season training is for injury prevention and maintenance.

All three groups have the same basic training, but the number of sets and repetitions differ depending of the areas of emphasis. All groups should perform full body strength training like squats, lunges, and plyometrics to develop strength and power. Injury prevention is also addressed with abdominal stability, full body flexibility, low back strength development, and shoulder and rotator cuff work. All groups also have conditioning days for endurance development where they run stadium sprints or shuttle runs. Over the course of the week, the athletes have covered all the strength and conditioning development areas, but just have not spent the same amount of time on each.

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