Most of the kids I work with are cranking it back up for the spring season. After taking a short break for the holidays, they’re getting back into the routine of lessons and practice. There has been one universal cry as we get back to work:
“I’m so sore!”
This chorus of misery isn’t due to the work they’re doing in the cages, but the physical training they’ve started to do with their teams. I commend the coaches who have the vision to include physical training into their team building philosophy.
The is one absolute truth for all players, all athletes and all teams, no matter the age or level of competition:
Faster and stronger is always better!
Of course, we need to use a little common sense. I don’t think most 8U teams should be jumping headlong into a very demanding CrossFit or Navy Seal type workout plan, but even the youngest kids can benefit from some speed and agility work.
You can greatly improve a softball player’s game by working on her strength, agility, flexibility, and coordination. There is no doubt that better footwork will make someone a better fielder. Being physically stronger has to improve a player’s power at the plate. Better flexibility greatly decreases the chance of injury for all players.
One of the reasons I feel so strongly that softball players should play other sports when they’re young is to develop their overall athletic ability. If a softball player decides not to be a multi-sport athlete, they can make up for it by training to improve their athletic ability.
Coaches, there are a lot of ways you can incorporate speed, agility and flexibility into your practices. You don’t need to have a strength coach to design a plan. Of course, it is nice to have an expert if you can, but don’t use the lack of one as an excuse to leave your players at a disadvantage.
You can count on some of your players whining a little, but I promise they will appreciate it when they see the results!
About the Author: Tory Acheson brings a wealth of knowledge to the Fastpitch Prep staff. He has coached at all levels of the game, including the last 25 years at the college level at the University of Wisconsin – Parkside, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State. He began his coaching career at the high school level spending 9 years Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wis. and is now working as a professional softball instructor.