Softball – Getting It Back After a Long Season (Part 1)

By Nunzio Signore (B.A., CPT, NASM, PES, FMS)

Blog 7 - 1We’re always hearing about how “the delivery in softball is different than baseball, so the training isn’t the same”.  I’m going to stick my neck out and say that granted we’re dealing with a different arm movement, but the cold hard facts are both sports can leave an arm, hip or shoulder feeling really gritty at the end of a long season. So in this series were going to address what needs to be done to get that mobility, stability and strength back before it’s time to go out and do it again next season.

Softball, like baseball, is primarily a unilateral (1-sided) sport so complete symmetry between the right and left sides of the body isn’t completely possible (nor should it be).  Our goal in the off-season is to try to bring our athletes as close to symmetrical as we can. In Part 1 of this series, we’re going to address two of the major issues we find with young athletes coming in at the beginning of the off season.  They are:

  • Scapular Stability
  • Thoracic Spine Extension and Rotational Range of Motion

Scapular Stability

Scapular upward rotation is what brings the arm to elevations of 60-90 degrees (the arm position while pitching or throwing).  Much of this is lost in both pitchers and position players during a long season.  In order for us to get most of that back, we have to focus on stabilizing the scapula so the arm can have a stable environment to elevate safely.  The main stabilizers are the lower trap and serratus anterior.

Microsoft PowerPoint - Presentation1

Here Gabby Caccamo and Madison Scanlon demonstrate 2 great exercises we use to achieve this training effect.

(1-Arm Row w/Reach)

 (Forearm Wall Slides w/Lift Off)

Thoracic Extension and Rotational Range of Motion

In a nutshell, if you don’t have adequate thoracic extension and rotation, you’re going to get to the windmill and throwing position any way you can.  This usually involves excess extension of the lower back (arching) and valgus stress (cranking) on the elbow.  While many athletes can generate great power despite falling into these patterns, fixing them can help improve performance while preventing the body from slowly breaking down over time.

Microsoft PowerPoint - Presentation1

                                  (Extension in Lower Back)                                 (Valgus Stress at Elbow)

Here, Madison and Kate Wood show us two exercises that we have used with great success here at RPP.

(Thoracic Extension-Foam Roller)

(Ball/Cable Rotations)

These are just two issues that need to be addressed in the off-season to ensure that you’re ready to hit the field in the spring feeling stronger and better than ever.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where we will address more off-season training protocols for softball players.  In the meantime, please be sure to visit our Elite Softball page by clicking here or simply come in and ask about off-season training for softball.