29 Dec 2009
What are some Quick Ways
I get asked quite often what kind of exercises to do to get in shape for softball. There are a lot of kids out there that want to play the game but have never played. I think this is great. Fastpitch Softball is one of the most exciting sports there is.
I see some kids that want to start at the high school level. Again, this is awesome. It may be a little tough if you have never played softball before to make your high school team though. It depends on several things, like how many kids are going out, how many teams your school has - Varsity, JV, C team, Freshman team, etc.
Some high schools are only able to field enough players for a varsity. Others only have a Varsity and JV. So in those cases it is hard to say, you may have a better chance there because they really need the players.
So, what kind of workouts are good to get in shape for the upcoming season? Well, you want to get some conditioning started now. If your season is 3-6 months away you have plenty of time to get into good shape. If you only have a couple months well, you better get going strong now.
There are several areas of strength and speed needed to play this game of Fastpitch Softball at an elite level. Probably the area you need to work on the most is your Core. That means work on your midsection, your upper body, your legs, your arm strength. Kind of sounds like your whole body doesn't it. It kind of is.
You will also need to get your throwing arm into throwing shape and get the mechanics sound. A strong, and mechanically sound throwing arm will keep you playing and off the injured reserve list.
Always start your workout with some good dynamic warmups. Stretching is fine but that is really what you should be doing at home and after practice to cool down. Dynamic warmups are basically moving stretches. You want to get your muscles warm before you stretch them or do any hard workout.
Warm muscles will be loose muscles and loose muscles will be quick, strong and healthy muscles. There are many resources available to find more information about dynamic warmups. I may write about that another time. Just do a search and you will find some good exercises to do.
Here are some good ones to get you started.
Arm Circles: Stand with your arms out to the side and make small circles, then medium, then large circles doing about 10 of each size, then reverse and go back down to small.
Torso Twist: Stand with arms out to side, and twist side to side about 10 times to warm up your lower back. Your back gets a lot of work playing softball.
Butt Kicks: Slowly jog forward kicking your feet up to your butt. Go about 20 feet, turn around and do them back to where you started.
High Knees: Raise your knees high as you slowly jog about 20 feet.
Power Skips: Skip forward as high as you can. This gets your nervous system kick started.
Carioca: This is old school but does a good job of twisting and getting your coordination working.
There are many more good ones but that should get you started.
To get yourself into shape for softball you need to work on your core. A really good excercise for that is to start on your stomach on the floor, raise up on your elbows and toes and hold that pose for about 30-60 seconds. Drop and rest about a minute, then repeat this 3-5 times. You will definitely feel this in the abs, shoulders and the back of your legs if you are doing it correct.
Other core work can be medicine ball where you are sitting on the floor with your knees bent. Grab the ball and hold it in front of you. Twist from side to side. Another good exercise with the medicine ball is to remain sitting, have a team mate toss the ball to you. Catch it and then toss it back. Do this standing as well for a different set of muscle work. Use a basketball or a gallon milk jug filled with water if you don't have a medicine ball. Be creative - you can find something to use around your house.
Pushups are great for working the upper body, arms and shoulders. Try some variations such as the Inch worm.To do this get into a push up position, slowly walk your feet up as far as you can, then walk your hands out until you are flat again. Repeat this across the room or until you can't go anymore. Then do one more.
The Marine style is a tough one. Start in an inverted pushup position with your butt in the air. Then lean forward over your hands and then back. Kind of a wave motion. This one will work your upper arms and shoulders.
Let's move on to your legs. Doing Squats is a great exercise to increase your leg strength. This will also help with running speed. Spend time on these and do them slowly and correctly. Remember to drive your heels into the floor, not your toes.
Wall Sits Another is to stand with your back at a wall, slowly slide down until you are in a sitting position and extend your arms out in front of you. Hold this for 45-60 seconds. Rest and repeat three times. This is really good for Catchers and Pitchers. Again, these give good gains on running and stopping which is important in fastpitch softball.
Plyometrics drills are great too. Basically this is standing and jumping as high as you can. This is a great explosiveness drill. Fastpitch requires a great amount of explosive movements in every position and play. Stand near a wall and try to jump and touch the ceiling or a mark on the wall. Try to go higher with each jump. If you have a basketball goal - try to touch the backboard or the rim.
If you have some strong boxes or cardio steps you can use them too. Stand flat footed in front of the step, jump up onto the step or box, then off the other side. Turn and jump back on the box and off the other side. Try to find taller boxes or steps as your strength increases. Try variations of this drill by standing sideways and jumping with one leg. Alternate legs and repeat.
Now let's work your throwing arm. The best way is to just play catch with a team mate. Start out with easy tosses close. Moving back as your arms get warmed up and loose. Gradually work up to full speed throws and as far distance apart as you can. Do this for 10-15 minutes then gradually cool down by working back closer together and easier tosses.
If you don't have a teammate to play catch with, you can use a batting cage, or pitching net to throw into. Another great thing is to hang an old blanket or tarp or old piece of carpet over a branch of a tree and throw into it. Start out slow, get warmed up and then move back and really let it all out. You can hang this in your garage on those rainy days or when the weather is bad.
Running short sprints is always good for softball conditioning. You will get really good at these the more you get into softball! Usually about 20 yard sprints is long enough. Remember, the bases are 60 feet apart so not much use sprinting a lot farther than that. Running ladder sprints is a good idea too. Run these until you don't think you can go anymore. Then run one more.
There are a lot of variations of these exercises and many many more drills and exercises that you can do. It is actually good to mix it up and do different ones every so often. That keeps the routine from getting boring and also works on different muscles and in different ways.
A great variation on all these exercises is to use JC Bands. These are exercise bands. They allow you to have resistance on your muscles in both the positive and negative direction. This is probably the quickest way - not the easiest - to gain strength throughout your core. We recommend JC Bands , they are designed to work - and to last. Start with the pink, yellow and orange.
Now that we are done with our workout, lets stretch. You will get much better results from stretching now than at the beginning of your workout. Stretch your arms, shoulders, back, legs and your mind. Keep learning more about the game and exercises you can do.
Ok, so we worked on our Core, our legs, our throwing arm, and our sprints. That's a pretty good workout. Try to break these up and do a couple each day. Maybe do the core and legs, then the arms, core and sprints another day. Try to workout 3-4 days a week. You want to give your body time to rest and recover between workouts so give it a day off between workouts.
If you follow this routine for the next 3 months you will be in good shape for fastpitch softball season.