«

»

The Top 3 Reasons Why You Should be Evaluated by a Strength Training Professional

The technical aspects of the skills involved in fastpitch softball have been studied and developed for a very long time. Yet with all we know now about biomechanics and the development of athletes, I still don’t think there is a great enough emphasis on strength and conditioning, more importantly the RIGHT kind of strength and conditioning, among pre-college softball players. I hear a lot of questions along the lines of, “What can my daughter do to strengthen her throwing arm?” My short answer to that is NOTHING, specifically. A lot of people fall into the trap of trying to strengthen the individual parts of their bodies that they believe are most integral to whatever they’re trying to do. Really though, whenever you focus your workouts on only one or two areas of concern, particularly when those areas may already be overdeveloped from the natural imbalances that occur from playing a sport, you’re asking for trouble. To achieve your maximum potential as a softball player or as an athlete of any sport, it is absolutely critical to strengthen your entire body, including the parts that you may think you don’t really need to use. And to train effectively, it is ESSENTIAL to be evaluated by a strength and conditioning professional.

Even if you’re fully aware of the necessity of full-body training, you should STILL have a professional evaluate you before embarking on any kind of strength and conditioning program. Here’s why:

The Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Be Evaluated by a Strength Training Professional

  1. Your weaknesses may not be obvious to you. For example, an athlete might experience back pain and think her back is weak as a result, when in reality it stems from inflexibility in her hamstrings. Or maybe she wants to hit for more power and thinks she needs to strengthen her arms and legs, when it’s really lack of mobility holding her back. A good strength trainer will put you through a series of simple tests to determine your natural physical capacities and weaknesses. It is CRITICAL to obtain this information before crafting a workout program, so you know what you need to address. You’ll be much better equipped to prevent injury during your workouts and game time if you can address your specific weaknesses.
  2. You’ll get much more out of your workouts. It’s no secret that taking on a strength and conditioning program is a commitment. If you’re going to dedicate yourself to working out, don’t you want it to be worth your time? If you get a professional evaluation, you’ll have the information you need to make YOUR game better. While there are many great exercises that can benefit all softball players, you will achieve much more personal success if your workout is tailored to your own physical profile.
  3. You’ll be capable of improving yourself. There’s no question that practice of skills is extremely important for any athlete, but without addressing your weaknesses, you could just be practicing the same bad mechanics over and over. There are certain weaknesses that can prevent you from improving no matter how much you practice, because your body may be physically incapable of performing the movement you’re asking it to perform. Finding your weaknesses with the help of a professional, and then working to eliminate them, makes improving your game skills possible (or at the very least, MUCH easier).

I strongly recommend finding a professional trainer who is familiar with training softball players, so he/she can provide you with information specific to your body AND the movements involved in your sport. Beyond that, I know it isn’t financially feasible for everyone to work out with a personal trainer on a regular basis. I won’t lie; I think that gives you tremendous benefit, and if you can do it I highly recommend it. But there’s no reason why you can’t receive an evaluation from a professional and work together to design a program that you then execute on your own. That first step, however, is absolutely essential.

I feel particularly strongly about this issue because it directly affected my softball career and my life in general. As a high school pitcher, I had chronic back problems—I mentioned this briefly in a previous post. I threw out my back during a game when I was 14, and though I recovered from the initial injury with physical therapy, I was always prone to having back pain after that. I gave my back extra attention during pre-game stretching, and massaged it after games. I had a light weight routine that I did on my own, but with a very poor level of commitment. I knew a mechanical flaw my pitching was responsible for the pain in my back, and my response was to practice more in an attempt to address it. This just exacerbated the problem. I didn’t realize I was INCAPABLE of fixing the mechanical problems because I wasn’t strong enough.

I met Joe Bonyai as a client a few years after I finished college, before I had any clue that we’d eventually start Fastpitch Power together. In addition to my spastic back, I had battled plantar fasciitis, and developed a problem in my right hip (my former drive-through hip) that would act up when I walked for any length of time, even if I was just out shopping. Working with him, I learned that many of my problems stemmed from my ANKLES, of all things. My ankles pronate (turn in) naturally, and the poor positioning has been filtering its way up my body, through my knees, hips, and back, my whole life. Joe helped me improve tremendously, and I so wish I had done something along those lines while I was still playing softball. I share this with all of my students so they may avoid making the same mistake I did.

Proper strength training goes beyond helping your game and truly improves the quality of your life, even after softball. I really can’t recommend a strength evaluation enough.

 

About the author

Carly

Carly is a windmill pitching specialist and co-founder of Fastpitch Power. She has coached teams at every level from 10U to NCAA. She also designed and built fastpitchpower.com. Please feel free to leave questions and site feedback in the comments or via our contact page!

3 comments

  1. Marissa Espinoza

    Marissa lives in Brentwood, Ca 94513 in northern California. How do we go about finding a reputable strength to accurately assess her. Some of the local facilities have a strong football focus and mentality. We do not want to waste our time or money. If you could recommend someone, that would be great.

    Michele Smith has a year round , comprehensive strength and conditioning plan that seems well planned with lots of variety. Are you familiar with this plan and if so, what do you think of it?

    Marissa is 12, pitches 54mph, plays ASA “A” level travel ball…recently they played in Oklahoma City, OK.

    We definitely feel strength and conditioning is the next step.

    1. Carly

      Hello, thanks for the comment.

      We’re in the New York area so unfortunately I’m not familiar with specific strength trainers in California. I will bring your comment to Joe’s attention and see if he knows anyone. Joe does offer an online evaluation and training program through our site if that interests you.

      Your instincts to stay away from football-focused facilities are good. You definitely want someone who has lots of experience working with females, preferably with softball players. I can’t seem to find info on Michele Smith’s plan on her website. Is it in-person training? Does she do it herself or does someone else do it?

      A good strength coach should spend Marissa’s first session putting her through a series of simple movements to determine her physical makeup before getting into the workout routine. That’s definitely something you want to look for.

  2. Joe Bonyai

    I will reach out to my colleagues on the west coast to see what reputable facilities/coaches there are in your area. I ran a quick Google search for Michele Smith’s strength and conditioning info and didn’t come up with much.

    Joe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>