Softball requires explosive anaerobic actions, like sprinting out of the batter's box, running to make the catch, or fielding a ground ball and spinning to fire a rope to first base. But without proper conditioning and strength training, these movements are rife with potential for injury.
"Doing a lot of prehab exercises has really allowed me to perform at practice, as well as games," says U.S. Olympic softball player Lauren Lappin, who has battled her share of nagging injuries. "Obviously, if you lift you get stronger. I've definitely noticed an improvement. I'm more fit and stronger."
Leading up to Beijing, the U.S. Olympic team's strength and conditioning coach, Brandon Marcello, had team members lifting three days a week, focusing on all aspects of their position-specific movements. Since so much of a softball player's power is initiated in the legs, Marcello's program included lots of core work and lower-body training, focusing on exercises like the Dumbbell Squat.
• Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding dumbbells on tops of shoulders
• Fill chest full of air
• Sit back, then lower into squat
• Drive heels through the ground, then explode up
Coaching Points: Keep weight on heels, with chest up and shoulders back // Maintain a straight back // Face elbows forward, parallel to ground // Lower with control
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