Preparing for Softball Camp
Our Top 3 Training Exercises to Try at Home
April showers bring May flowers and Softball season! Hopefully you haven’t had to brush any cobwebs off your equipment — or your body. If you’re currently on a school softball team, it’s likely that you’re training several times a week; however, softball coaches know that off-season training results in top performing players who win games. That’s why we’ve put together these great softball exercises to help you stay on top of your game and prepare for Revolution Softball Camp!
We play this game with emotion and love. Coach always says ‘Emotionally, physically, mentally come to the field prepared’, because if you don’t bring that to the field, you’re going to get beat.
— Laura Berg, winner of 4 Olympic medals in softball
Pre-Season Prep for Softball Summer Camp:
1. Kettlebell Swings for Explosive Hips
When you want to improve softball performance, you need to focus on the muscle groups that are going to give you an edge on the field. Softball players need explosive power for swinging, throwing, and pitching for split-second actions or reactions. Contrary to popular belief, rotational power doesn’t come from your abs, but from your hips. This is why lateral hip strength and stability are keys to success. Hip training also helps you make quick moves to different planes to pitch or play defense.
For this explosive exercise, always remember to pay attention to perfect form:
- Start with one 10-pound kettlebell placed about 1 foot in front of you on the ground.
- Keeping your back straight, abs engaged, and feet shoulder-width apart, bend at the waist and grasp the kettlebell handle with both hands so your palms face your body.
- Pull your shoulders down and back and tighten your core.
- With a flat back and straight neck, lift the kettlebell off the ground, allowing it to swing between your legs with knees slightly bent.
- Forcefully drive your hips forward to propel the kettlebell to the approximate height of your shoulders. Don’t let your arms drive the movement — all momentum should come from your legs and glutes.
- As the kettlebell comes back towards your body, let the bell pull your torso downward while keeping a flat back (and tight torso!) Allow the kettlebell to swing down and through your legs.
- Immediately repeat steps 5 & 6 five times.
- On your final rep, swing the bell back through your legs, and then return it to the starting position 1-foot in front of you on the ground.
- Take a breather and repeat this exercise for 3 reps. Work up to heavier weight slowly, and only when you can maintain perfect form.
I work with many players who suffer injuries due to poor conditioning. Simple exercises like walking backwards on an incline will help protect knees. Add a high knee ‘farmer walk’ to this exercise to further build strength and prevent injury.
— Todd Murray, owner of Results Plus Fitness, Hamden, CT
2. Pallof Pressed
Forget wasting time with sit-ups and crunches! Build a rock-solid core and show off a loaded six-pack with the Pallof press. This exercise is ideal for pre-season training, because it works the core in a way that helps the body react to twists and turns without injury.
- Grab a resistance band, and wrap it around something stable that is approximately shoulder height. A fireman’s pole at your local park will do. You can also try using a railing in your home, or the support poles in your basement.
- Grasp one end of the resistance band in both hands and hold it against your chest, then step back until the band is taut.
- Tighten your core and get into an athletic stance. There should be a slight bend in your knees, with your chest up and eyes looking forward.
- Squeeze your hands together and straighten your fingers, so the band is held tightly with your palms only.
- Maintain the correct position by squeezing your shoulder blades together and extend your arms, so the band pulls you toward your anchor point without letting your torso twist.
- Hold this position (without twisting!) for 5 to 10 seconds.
- Slowly return the band to your chest.
- Repeat this move for 12 reps, then try turning your body so each hip is facing forward. and stand with your other side to the machine.
The Pallof press helps you put on the brakes. Along with runs and throws, a softball player needs to rotate explosively for quick stops (also known as “anti-rotation”). This full-body exercise helps to increase overall stability and builds all the major muscle groups in your torso.
3. The Shoulder Show
Try not to get lost in comparing yourself to others. Discover your gifts and let them shine!
— Jennie Finch, former member of the U.S. women’s national softball team & Olympic gold medalist
According to expert fitness trainer Todd Murray, shoulder pole dislocations are a must for softball players, and help protect rotator cuffs from throwing injuries. Like the exercises above, this simple move can be done anywhere, without expensive gym equipment. Shoulder dislocations will increase your shoulder flexibility and develop strength in areas you most likely forgot you had.
Try this at home:
- Grab a broomstick, length of rope, hockey stick, or barbell. You can add weight to this exercise with a small plate threaded through your stick, but it’s not necessary.
- Hold the stick in front of your body, so your palms are facing your body.
- Extend your grip on the stick so your arms make an approximate 45-degree angle.
- Raise the stick over your head, and rotate the stick until it rests behind your back above your glutes.
- Count 3 seconds, then raise the stick over your head to return to the starting position.
- Repeat 5 repetitions for a total of 3 sets. Once that feels too easy, work slowly up to 20 repetitions and 5 sets.
If your shoulders feel a little tight at first, don’t worry. Keeping at a slow and steady pace to improve shoulder flexibility, build up your anterior and lateral deltoids, and develop your triceps. Shoulder pole dislocations can be done either at the beginning or end of a workout, and makes a great addition to your pre-game warm-up for agile joints and shoulders. After you master your form, make this exercise harder by using a narrower grip and adding weight. As most athletes know, it takes a much longer time to heal tendon and joint injuries, so always pay attention to your form and go slowly.
Mastery is a product of consistently going beyond our limits.
— Stewart Emery, entrepreneur, executive coach, & leader in the Human Potential Movement
Have you or your children expressed an interest in softball? Are you looking to advance your softball skills to prepare for highschool or college sports? Register now for Summer 2022, and foster a love for the game of softball. Learn more at Revolution Softball Camp.
Do you have a favorite off-season exercise that has improved your infield or outfield game? Leave a comment below to share a tip with your fellow softball campers.