A softball player doesn't have to run long distances or bench press 300 pounds to play successfully, but she does need to prepare her body for the rigors of the game. Softball involves sprinting and throwing, both of which require intense muscle contractions and a certain level of anaerobic fitness. A softball player can improve her fitness by performing conditioning drills on a regular basis. This will help a player perform to her potential and may help prevent injuries.
During the off-season and preseason, a softball player needs to prepare her throwing arm for the competitive season. This involves strengthening the arm, especially the shoulder, to help prevent throwing-related injuries. This also can help increase throwing velocity. Playing long toss regularly is one way to accomplish these goals. Two players face each other and play catch, starting at about 20 yards apart. After every 10 to 20 throws, one player moves back five yards until they are 40 to 50 yards apart.
Progressive Baserunning Drill
The progressive baserunning drill prepares softball players to sprint around the bases as quickly as possible when they hit singles, doubles, triples and inside-the-park home runs during games. It strengthens the leg muscles, trains the cardiovascular system and can help improve sprinting technique. The players form a line behind home plate to start the drill. The first player in line sprints from home plate to first base, then jogs to the back of the line, followed by the second player and so on. When the first player is up again, she sprints from home plate to first base and continues to second base before jogging to the back of the line. The rest of the players do the same. Next, they run to third base and, finally, all the way around the bases.
Forward-Backward Agility Drill
Softball players, especially infielders and outfielders, should work to improve agility because they frequently have to accelerate, decelerate and change directions. The forward-backward agility drill achieves this purpose. The drill is performed with five cones aligned about five yards apart in a letter "W"-shaped configuration, with the first, third and fifth cones forming the points at the top of the W and the second and fourth cones forming the points at the bottom. A player starts at the first cone, backpedals diagonally to the second cone, sprints diagonally to the third cone, backpedals to the fourth cone and finally sprints through the fifth cone.