When it comes to the sport of softball, strength is king. Strength increases force production (higher exit velocities, faster pitches, faster throws in the field). Strength keeps the body healthy (helps keep players happy and productive in the sport). Strength lays the foundation for speed (helps with speed due to the athlete being able to put more force in the ground). A car that gets tuned up with more horsepower can go faster than it did when it had less horsepower. Strength is king. How much horsepower you can build depends on how much you can do. At each level, it gets a bit more and more difficult, but doesn’t everything else worth having also come at a cost? The reward of the work and being able to see the numbers from it is something that we believe PRODUCES happier, more fulfilled athletes.
This summer, we had an opportunity to work with the Leedey softball and basketball girls. Leedey is a smaller school with roughly 20-30 per graduating class which makes for some huge disadvantages. They are also in an extremely rural area again making it have some disadvantages for the optimal development of an athlete. Even with all of the disadvantages, they still find ways to optimize development of their athletes. Watching these girls and meeting those in their community, you can’t help but start to see the ADVANTAGES they have that many miss at larger schools. They have strong relationships within the community, more 1:1 time with coaches and teachers, and are extremely supportive of one another. We have always preached that the base of performance is happiness. It is no wonder that these girls saw the improvements they did in less than 20 strength training sessions considering how happy these girls are. The happier athlete is always going to improve faster than the athlete who is miserable. The perfect program, nutrition, team, extra lessons, etc can’t replace how imperative it is that the athlete is HAPPY if they are to achieve their highest level in sport.
Our primary goal going into the summer was to build up exit velocities for the sport as girls are hitting more and more homeruns it seems like each season. To be able to WIN at the highest levels (state championships / travel ball nationals) the athlete HAS to be able to keep up with that change we see taking place in the softball world. The teams hitting more run runs more often than not beat the team that hits less home runs. By setting up the possibility to hit more homeruns, the girls added yet another advantage to the board to continue achieving the amazing feeling that comes from winning.
As a team with the emphasis placed on developing the strength of the sumo deadlift, we witnessed a 21.9% increase on exit velocity as well as a 1.5mph increase on sprint speed.
We did not witness a single athlete not improve across the board on all 3 (sumo deadlift strength, exit velocity, and speed) out of the group of 12. These metrics provide the ability to win simply by making less error. When we are stronger, a ball that used to would have needed to hit the sweet spot of the barell can still be a homerun even if it is 1/4 inch off the sweet spot. A 1.5mph gain in speed is the difference between MAKING a play in the field and getting called safe or out when sliding in at home for the game winning run. The team who makes the least amount of mistakes is the team that wins the game. Strength is a game changer in controlling the variables we can control.
We were hoping for a great summer, but this group absolutely floored us on what all is possible with a coach, community, and teammates that believe in each other. We want to give a huge thank you to head coach Eric Castle for letting us get to be part of the process. GO BISON.
**For more reading on softball strength development and the resources that have helped up, check out strongeight and nick showman at the buttons below. For further research, refer to the Westside Barbell Book of Methods, drivenmindtraining.com, M2performancenutrition.com, and Nick Showman at showtimestrength.com