5 Essential Exercises to Boost Your Softball Performance
Fast-pitch softball requires a great deal of muscular strength, power, and endurance to be successful. Some of the most powerful athletes in this sport include Monica Abbott with a record breaking 77mph pitch, Oklahoma States Laura Chamberlin with a career 95 home runs and Mississippi States’ Chelsea Bramlett with 152 stolen bases in 166 attempts. Besides all being gifted athletes, these women are extremely powerful primarily because of their dense strength training background and ability to apply force quickly.
Regular engagement in strength training programs play a vital role in overall movement quality, enhancing muscular strength as well as an increase in all around performance on the field. One quote I absolutely love from Eric Cressey is “Throwing builds arm-speed – which is power. Power is heavily reliant on muscular strength. If you can’t apply much force, you can’t apply much force quickly”. Tackling these 5 areas can help you increase muscle cross sectional area, enhance neuromuscular efficiency and boost your throwing velocity over time.
Half-Kneeling 1-arm Landmine Press
Oftentimes softball athletes are producing power on one leg whether it's crow hopping from center field to throw a runner out at home plate or a catcher throwing to second from her knees. Uni-lateral exercises such as the landmine press are beneficial in that it can even out strength imbalances between right and left limbs, drive upward rotation of the scapula, and in the long run diminish the risk of shoulder injuries.
Split-Stance Anti-Rotation Medicine Ball Scoop Toss
This exercise is utilized throughout the baseball and softball seasons here at Cressey Sports Performance because it not only teaches our athletes how to move through our upper back (thoracic spine) instead of our low back but also to keep and maintain a "Firm Front Side" which is a necessity when it comes to both hitting and pitching. The high incidence of female softball players with chronic low back pain could be attributed to the lack of thoracic mobility and this like many other ball drills is a great way to achieve it.
Trap Bar Deadlift
The trap bar (hex bar) can be found at almost any gym in America. The trap bar is great for athletes because it places less stress on the low back due to the ability to stay upright. Primarily used as a valuable tool to increase strength in the posterior chain (glutes, quads, hamstrings) and core stabilizers. Improvements in the trap bar can translate to greater force output on the field.
Prone Bridge Arm-March
Females have a higher tendency to be hypermobile. With this in mind many will stand during games or practice in knee hyperextension weight shifted to one hip and leaning slightly back and over time can cause all sorts of aches and pains. This is a great exercise to coach the concept of anterior core control as well as challenge rotary stability.
1-Leg Medial Lateral Hurdle Hops
Athletes land one leg during their pitching motion and even when snagging a run a way fly ball. This drill is a priceless tool to help athletes learn how to absorb force using their hip joint to cushion their landing instead of their knees taking the brunt force.
Get After It
Using these drills and other similar variations can help you become a smarter and stronger athlete while increase your performance on the field. Here is a sample program of how to integrate these exercises above.