Is Running the Best Workout for Softball Players?

Written By Carly Schonberg

Is Running The Best Workout For A Softball Player

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Softball players seem to run a lot, and I’m not talking about around the bases. Many college coaches require their players to run miles in addition to strength training and practicing skills. At the high school, middle school, and travel levels, running is often the ONLY organized team workout promoted by coaches.

Let’s stop and really think about running for a minute.

Softball and baseball require a tremendous number of sport-specific skills—more than most sports. Sprinting around the bases, fielding with range and agility, throwing and catching, hitting, and pitching are all distinctly different skills with their own set of mechanics, supported by certain physical capacities. Each skill requires strength, stability, and flexibility/mobility. And every softball player wants to be able to perform these skills with more speed and more power.

Sustained slow to moderately paced running—which is what you get when you jog for miles— does not improve strength, stability, flexibility, speed, or power. Additionally, hitting the ground repeatedly with poor posture and leg alignment can lead to shin, knee, hip, and back pain. I’ve never seen a softball coach go running with his or her players to keep a constant watchful eye on their running form, and players who start the season without prior physical conditioning are usually weak and susceptible to poor running mechanics. Nevertheless, many believe that running long distances with little to no real supervision or mechanical correction will get players into shape. Not so. Instead, players should work to strengthen the specific capacities and components that contribute most directly to softball performance.

What physical capacities actually contribute to speed and power? Your running speed, as well as your pitching, hitting, and throwing power, come from how hard you can push off the ground with your legs. When you’re sprinting around the bases or running down a fly ball, your feet are pushing off the ground one at a time. When you pitch, you’re pushing with one leg off the pitching rubber. When you hit, your swing is initiated by a quick push in your back leg. When you throw, you set your foot on your throwing side and push off of it to initiate the throwing motion.

Here is a little physics lesson: the ground is enormous and by comparison you are very small. Because of this, when you push into the ground, the earth pushes you back and you are propelled away from it.

The more force you apply to the ground through your legs and feet, the faster and farther you’ll propel yourself. When you’re sprinting, you want to use that energy to keep moving forward as powerfully as possible. When pitching and hitting, you want to collect all that force and then use a strong, stable front leg and core to redirect the energy into your bat or pitching arm.

How do you push harder into the ground? By making your legs stronger. Specifically, you need tremendous strength in your gluteal muscles and tremendous stability in your hips and core for each of softball’s required skills/components that long-distance running does not address. So what’s the most effective way to make your legs stronger? Exercises like squats, dead lifts, lunges, step-ups, and jumping activities are a good choice. If you were to slow down video of a fast runner taking off into a sprint or a great windmill pitcher pushing off the rubber, and then compare it to a slow-motion Olympic lift, you’d see that the explosive action of pushing off the ground actually shares many similarities with the acceleration phase of the lift—more similarities than that action shares with jogging.

Athletes can begin doing these exercises using just their own body weight and gradually increase with weights as they become stronger, ALWAYS with supervision for proper form. If you must run, run on hills. In contrast to running with low resistance on flat ground, you will need to push hard and use your gluteal and abdominal muscles to stabilize your hips and core—strengths which, as I mentioned above, are necessary for softball skills.

Long distance running does have one notable benefit: cardiovascular endurance. Endurance is absolutely necessary for overall fitness, and running has long been the most popular choice for achieving this because it’s easy and free.

However, running is not the only way to achieve cardiovascular endurance. Performing the above-mentioned exercises in rapid circuits (never sacrificing form!) will provide you with a great cardio workout, one that can be even more challenging than running. It’s also more efficient than running and weight training separately, because you’re working on both strength and endurance at the same time, all the while constantly developing softball-specific physical abilities.

As the legs get stronger, running speed along with power in other skills will come naturally. You wouldn’t try to improve a hitter’s poor swing by having her swing over and over again hoping something clicks; you’d break it down with specific drills to address the components that need to be improved. The same holds true for running: endurance aside, repeating it over and over doesn’t even make you much better at RUNNING, never mind softball. Strengthen the various capacities that contribute to the skills, and improvement will surely follow.

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Fastpitch Softball Magazine Issue 52

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Issue 52 of The Fastpitch Magazine Published By Gary Leland

This month’s featured video is an interview with UCLA Coach Kirk Walker. I have also included one of my great softball drills, another featured chapter from The Fastpitch Book, and all your helpful articles from our amazing writers.

Welcome to the December 2016 Issue of the Fastpitch Magazine. The Fastpitch magazine has been bringing you more fastpitch softball articles and videos than anyone on the planet for over two full years.

Abby Hanrahan brings us “What is the Best Way to Learn Pitching?” from her column The Pitching Link.

Mitch Alexander column, Softball Academy, has his article “Ten Holiday Gift Ideas For Youth Softball Players”.

This months featured video of the month is an interview with UCLA Coach Kirk Walker.

Robbie Wilson joins us again with his article on Recruiting in the Fastpitch Lane, “Why Aren’t the Campus I’m Attending Turning into Visits or Offers?”.

I also feature my interview of the month with Crystal Bustos.

All this and more in this months issue.

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The Backspin Tee Hitting Trainer

A Revolutionary Softball Tee

The Backspin Tee is for anyone who is interested in learning how to hit line drives. This tee is the only inverted tee on the market that will help you develop the habit of hitting below what we believe to be the true middle of the ball. For more information or to purchase this tee go to

With this hitting tee your baseball or softball fits securely in an inverted cone that covers the top half of the ball to force you to focus on the middle-bottom half of the ball. It is scientifically proven that by hitting 2 centimeters below the equator line your ball will have more backspin which sends the ball farther into the field. With this tee you too can learn how to hit that perfect back spin all the time.

Backspin Tee Softball Hitting Tee
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This tee is quickly becoming one of the most popular hitting trainer tees. To improve your hitting game today and order your Backspin Tee, Go to!

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Louisville Slugger 2017 Xeno Plus

Fastpitch Bat Review

Louisville Slugger 2017 Xeno Plus Fastpitch Bat FPTV

Louisville Slugger 2017 Xeno Plus


Performance PLUS Composite.
Balanced 2-piece Bat.
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Order online, or call 817-303-6620

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Product Description

The new Louisville Slugger 2017 XENO PLUS is now constructed with a zero friction double wall design to provide you limited resistance with maximum flex. The 2-piece iST technology takes away any negative vibrations to keep you comfortable while playing with this bat. The S1iD barrel gives the bat a mixture of power while also giving you a huge sweet spot with a lightweight swing.

Additional Information

Weight3 lbs
Dimensions34 x 3 x 3 in

Louisville Slugger 2017 Xeno Plus Fastpitch Bat

One of the necessities to being a serious Fastpitch Softball player is owning an excellent and hot bat to hit with. Typical Fastpitch Softball players feel more comfortable and confident at the plate when they swing with one of the hottest bats out there. Buying a new bat is a huge decision that takes careful consideration. Before investing time and money in a random bat, let me tell you about the 2017 Louisville Slugger Xeno Plus.

Louisville Slugger 2017 Xeno Plus Fastpitch Softball Bat

The 2017 Louisville Slugger Xeno Plus design consists of a 100% composite barrel and handle. The 2-piece construction of the Xeno Plus allows you make solid and stiff contact with the ball, therefore increasing the energy transfer from the bat to the ball. Weight is distributed equally throughout the barrel. Louisville’s S1ID Barrel Technology allows the Xeno Plus to give you maximum pop off the bat on contact.

2017 Xeno Plus Louisville Slugger Fastpitch Bat

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The 2017 Xeno Plus is used by many high ranked colleges across the country such as Texas A&M University, Arizona State University, University of Arkansas, Ohio State University, University of North Texas and many more. Louisville Slugger is one of the most trusted, top leading brands for Fastpitch Softball. Producing gloves, catching gear, equipment bags, and much more. Above all, they are best known for their production of one of the most popular bats on the market for Fastpitch Softball, the 2017 Xeno Plus

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History Of Softball Part 15 with Dr. Dot Richardson

Strike Zone Mat hitting and pitching training aid

History Of Softball Part 15 with Dr. Dot Richardson

Welcome to part 15 in my series on the History of Softball with Dr. Dot Richardson. On this episode Dot continues her conversation with longtime fastpitch advocate and previous consultant to the Olympic Chinese Softball Team, Michael Bastian. In video 2 they cover Michaels background with the Chinese softball team in preparation for the olympic games.

A special thanks to Alison Strange for all her help and advice on this project. And The National Softball Hall Of Fame in Oklahoma City, OK. – Produced By Gary Leland

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Smart Work Routs Hard Work and No Work Every Time

Written By Aaron Weintraub

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Smart Work Routs Hard And No Work Every Time

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“Excellence is not a singular act, but a habit. You are what you repeatedly do.” ~Aristotle

To work smarter and improve faster, discipline is required. Discipline is commonly cited as a necessity for success in sports (or life). But what is discipline? How does an athlete know if she has a disciplined approach? Is it the sweat? The fatigue? The outcomes? Many young people (in age or maturity) lack a full and clear understanding of what it means to be disciplined. Laziness certainly shows a lack of discipline. Every great leader knows that she must go through the middle to get to the end. Quality practice is a necessity; it is the huge “middle.” She cannot expect to coast through drills in practice and be able to “turn it on” in the game (or worse: late in the game if the score is close).

A leader works to make the performance in practice feel the same as it does in a playoff championship game. She goes game speed, or she does not go at all. Ideally, she cares equally about all of her results, regardless of the situation, because results always provide feedback about how well she is currently doing at approaching her potential (the “end” that she is striving for). She wants to be the best she can be and she knows that the only time she has any control over for reaching that lofty goal is right now. She has the discipline to move beyond her comfort zone, beyond her familiar zone. It is her habit of doing her best, now — regardless of how hard that is — that makes her successful.

Disciplined athletes make excellence second nature because they are willing to endure fatigue and pain now to enhance their pleasure later. Typically, this is pleasure that will result from performing better, maximizing her chances to win.

Simply put, disciplined athletes are competitive. They run through the line instead of coasting to it. They go to bed at a decent hour rather than go out to a party. They lift weights rather than hang out in the weight room. They eat fruits and vegetables rather than fast food and ice cream. Their attitude is one of appreciation rather than one of entitlement. In many different ways, they push towards their goals rather than coasting along. Disciplined athletes figure out what their job is and do it the best they can.

Can a person work hard and still be undisciplined? Yes, and this is not uncommon. An athlete is mentally lazy if she does not constantly evaluate information, looking for the best way. Some athletes do not like to focus on the details. It is too much trouble, and after all, everyone can see that they are already working hard-just look at the sweat. Unfortunately, if they are working hard, but not smart, the return on their work will be less than a tenth of what it could be.

Quality practice produces improvement more than ten times faster than merely going through the motions. Slow progress occurs when the athlete does not work at the edge of her ability level, or she is not focused, or she works only on her strengths, not her weaknesses. Disciplined athletes understand the point of their practice, they focus their attention appropriately, and they wisely choose how to spend their time. Often, they spend most of their time working on their weaknesses and finish with their strengths (to maximize confidence and fun memories after practice). In the weight room, an athlete should train her proportionally weaker muscles more than her proportionally stronger muscles. Also, she should train for functional strength in her sport, not to look good on the beach. She takes the time to design drills that are as difficult or more difficult than the game situations that they simulate.

Normal athletes’ evaluations of what they are good at and what needs the most improvements are often biased by their expectations and prejudices. Most would rather protect their ego than identify a better way. When something goes wrong, they do not sufficiently search for the cause of the problem. When it is time to try something new, they hesitate or skip it because they fear the unknown. They do not know how to stretch their own boundaries. They have not learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable. As a result, they make poor adjustments and their rate of learning suffers, as does their performance in “uncomfortable” situations. Skillful adjustments and continuous learning are primary ingredients for any athlete/scientist to approach her potential.

The quality of an athlete’s approach can be disciplined and unselfish or undisciplined and dictated by emotions and the selfish ego. A hitter should often go for a single to the opposite field rather than trying to pull a home run. The pitcher should execute a game plan rather than engage in a personal battle with the opposing 3-hole hitter. A lack of self-control causes athletes to act emotionally instead of rationally, which is often manifested in increased tension and/or aggressiveness. Examples of a lack of self-control include obvious mistakes such swinging at pitches that are not close to strikes or less obvious mistakes such as bad rhythm (usually rushing, but sometimes being too slow and careful) or loss of flexibility. Infinite examples exist. Discipline requires emotional control, thereby allowing the athlete to use her best judgment about how to maximize her chances of getting the outcomes she wants.

In the book The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth, Dr. M. Scott Peck clarified what it takes to have great discipline. His premise is that life is difficult, but with discipline, a person can transcend this difficulty. He breaks down discipline into four necessary components: delaying gratification, accepting responsibility, dedicating oneself to reality, and balancing. Delaying gratification means scheduling pain in the present to enhance pleasure in the future. Accepting responsibility involves recognizing that a problem any person is having is her problem and it is her job to solve this problem. Do not wait for someone else or “society” to fix it. Part of accepting responsibility involves a dedication to reality, which assumes a commitment to discovering truth or what is real and what is not. Stringent self-examination, willingness to be challenged, and relentless honesty are necessary components of a total dedication to reality. Shortcuts are sought for efficiency, but inappropriate shortcutting such as cheating is unacceptable. Finally, balancing, or choosing one course of action over another, requires flexibility, good judgment, and courage. It also acknowledges the pain of giving something up. In conclusion, Dr. Peck’s work teaches that the disciplined individual is a spiritually evolved person who has the capability to transcend the difficulty of life.

All this information may seem like a lot for an athlete to handle. Do the details of good discipline make the attempt at it overwhelming? No. Would an effort to be disciplined be futile? Never. Clarification makes the process manageable, and the effort alone defines the success. All that is required is courage and motivation. Of course this is easier to understand than to do, but if courage and motivation exist, a leader will constantly fight to improve her skills. She will fall down often, but will get up each time. She will strive for perfection, but she will be smarter than to ever allow herself to expect it. She will keep the mountaintop in mind, sometimes at the forefront and often in the background, but she will enjoy the journey even more than the destination. By doing these things through motivated and courageous behavior, she will truly be disciplined in her attempt to approach her potential. Success is inevitable.

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