Adding POWER to Your Pitch |Softball is For Girls

tjallen-757x1024How to add more power behind your pitch: the one movement every softball pitcher needs
By T.J. Allan, CSCS, CISSN

www.AHFEdwardsville.com
Softball is a game of movements, not muscles. And there is one movement for softball pitchers that stands head and shoulders above the rest- hip extension. Just watch a pitcher as she prepares to hurl the ball toward the plate. There’s a distinct bend at the waist as the pitcher loads her powerful hip extensor muscles, and then, much like a rubber band, there’s almost an immediate powerful snap at the hips as she releases the ball. That movement is the engine that powers the ball to the plate, and by training that movement, a pitcher can increase her pitching velocity.

Unfortunately, most softball players, especially at the high school level, are training more like a bodybuilder as opposed to an athlete. Their workouts are built around muscles, not movements. One day is dedicated to chest and back, and the next day is dedicated to hamstrings and quadriceps. Light weights and machines are often used because that’s what they see in the fitness magazines. They assume, like we all did when we started training, that all strength training is the same. Unbeknownst to them, that type of training is wasting their time, which is unfortunate because the right strength program can make a huge difference on not only velocity but also pitching endurance and injury prevention.

Strength-is.....

To make the most of their strength training, their workouts should be designed around movements, more specially movements that are specific to the game of softball. The following 3 steps show a progression we use with softball players as we teach them how to extend the hips explosively. As you’ll see, we’ll first work on stability and proper patterning of the movement. Once that’s achieved, we’ll then increase the volume so we have a foundation to build power upon. Step 3 builds the engine – more power!

Step 1
Our focus during this phase is on creating a strong core that the hips are able to transmit force through. First we make sure we have the mobility we want. Then we’ll focus on creating core stability. Once that’s accomplished, we’ll activate the glutes, improve movement patterning, and make sure the athlete isn’t substituting back extension for hip extension, which is a recipe for injury.

Mobility
1. Goblet Squats 3 sets of 10 reps
2. Frog Squats 3 sets of 8 reps
3. Leg Lowers 3 sets of 8 reps
With a single dumbbell or kettllebell , this workout can be done from home daily. It takes 10-15 minutes to complete.
Stability
1. Planks 3 sets of 30 seconds
2. Half Kneeling Pallof Press 3 sets of 10 reps per side
3. Side Planks 3 sets of 30 seconds
With a single band, this workout can be done from home 3 times per week. It takes 10-15 minutes.

Activation
1. Cook Hip Lifts 3 sets of 10 reps per leg
2. Band Monster Walks 5 yards
3. Band Lateral Walks – 5 yards
With a single band, this workout can be done from home 3 times per week. It takes 10-15 minutes.

Step 2
Now that we have the proper mobility, stability, and patterning, we can focus on building a strong base that we’ll be able to train power from in step 3. The exercises below are just that – exercises. This is not a complete training program. It’s one workout that can be substituted for a leg day, and performed once every 5 days.
Trap Bar Deadlift 3 sets of 8-10 reps
Hip Thrust 3 sets of 10-12 reps
Reverse Lunge with a single KB in the rack position 2 sets x10-12 reps
Back Extension 2 sets x12-15 reps
1-Arm Farmer’s Carries -2 sets of 10 yards

Step 3
It’s all about the power in this phase. Our focus is on creating strong, powerful hip extension that will allow us to snap the ball towards home plate.
Broad Jump 4 sets of 6 reps
Kettlebell Swing 4 sets of 8 reps
Trap Bar Deadlift 3 sets of 6-8
Hip Thrust 3 sets of 8-10 reps
Back Extensions 3 sets of 10-12 reps

Conclusion
The weight room, when used effectively, can be a softball player’s best friend. When it’s added to technique work, the results can be game changing. If you’re looking to increasing your velocity on the mound, the above workout progression is the answer!

Side note:
Of course, all of these steps and exercises are progressed according to each individual athlete’s strength and movement level. Even something that sounds as simple as the trap bar deadlift is progressed slowly with multiple steps. Although an athlete can perform the workouts above by herself, finding a personal trainer that’s certified in training athletes will be the safer, more effective option.

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