Ok, maybe they aren't actually tougher. I had the privileged of coaching some pretty mentally and physically tough baseball players. My favorite story is one of Schuyler Williamson who played catcher for Army. After receiving letters from his little brother questioning the direct leadership, Schuyler left a pro baseball career after being drafted by the Detroit Tigers to join his little brother in combat.
Although, some of the baseball players I have coached in the weightroom were flakes, most of the issues were attributed to the culture and the dinosaur coaches when it came to training. No other sport has the amount of voodoo nonsensical training methods rooted in good 'ole boy ideology like baseball. The culture thankfully is changing, but there are still cases where you hear these gems from managers, pitching coaches, and parents.
- Pitchers should run long distances the day after they pitch to "flush the lactic acid out of their systems." Hey, skipper. That soreness is from 60-80 high intensity bouts of unnatural arm torque. The lactic acid was gone a few hours after. That is if the less-than-a-second physical excursion was enough to produce any. Now if they are doing LSD type training as a way to manage recovery, then ok. Just stop using the big words that are wrong.
- Pitchers should only bench press with dumbbells. If you say this because you want your pitchers to use a neutral grip, then I agree. But all to often this is associated with a range of motion issue, Wouldn't dumbbells actually increase the ROM due to the lack of a bar hitting the chest?
- No overhead pressing. Look I get it. The risk could be high IF you have an athlete predisposed to impingement based on the AC joint. But, if you are going to eliminate an exercise based on fear, please make sure you clear two things up.
- Have you ever had an athlete injure their shoulder from overhead pressing? Yes, I knwo in can happen but in your experience, did it ever happen.
- If you are so concerned with the health of the shoulder capsule, why do you have weighted dips, cheating (kipping) pull-ups, decline presses, or Overhead KB swings or any other exercises that put unwanted stress on the shoulder?
Regardless, the arm care of baseball players, specifically pitchers does require more precautions. And, no, I don't really think all softball players are tougher (whatever tougher means) than baseball players.
Jennie Finch Skills Clinic
It almost goes without fail that when you meet someone who is famous (not fitness internet famous) that they disappoint you. You hold them up on a pedestal and they are nothing like what you thought. Well, that was the farthest from the truth when I met Jennie Finch. The face of women's softball is the real deal. So very passionate about helping young girls learn and appreciate the game of softball. She was honest, humble, and just a great role model for these girls.
Jennie Finch wanted to individually coach all 300 campers if she could. She had a 50 minute session where she pitched and talked to the group. Then after individual stations, she talked to the entire group again. She didn't hold back and really connected with those girls.
A video posted by Mark Watts (@mjdubs_elitefts) on
It was great being back at DU. Nick Showman asked me to head up the Sports Performance station. We had a really good crew of coaches from Showtime Strength & Performance along with one of my former athletes and good friend Claire Kopko. Claire is a PT, is strong as hell, and her only downfall is being engaged to Nick. Just kidding.
Along with Clarie, there were dozens of DU Softball Alumni back for the clinic. I have been lucky to have had most of my teams buy in to what we were trying to do. Not too many teams have worked harder or have bought in as much as these ladies. I attribute a lot of this to Tiffany Ozbun who is the head coach as Denison. I was on her hiring committee and my goodness did we get that decision right. She has done more with less and because of our open communication, transparency and clarity of her vision, she, and her players always trusted the process.
Class after class, I trusted these ladies to do the right thing, babysit my daughter, house sit, etc. They weren't just respectful and dependable, they were selfless and tough. Tough int he way that they made unpopular decisions if they were the right decision. When my wife played at DU (we started dating after she graduated), she missed here entire Junior year because she donated her kidney to her father. The ladies that played after her were in the same mold.
Taking it's Croll on you
Don't ask me why dumbbell high pulls were part of our program, but we had them scheduled one day. I am not saying they are the best exercise for power development, but we got athletes to move weight relatively fast. They are easy to teach if you can get the athletes to initiate the movements in the hips first. One issue was with female athletes was unless they kept the dumbbells out in front, they often hit them selves in the boobs. And, if the weight was too light (or they didn't have boobs) the could hit themselves in the face. That's exactly what Emily Croll did.
"Coach, can I go see the trainer real quick?" She is asking me this while holding half of her tooth in here hand. Now, I guess I should have been fired for an athlete being hurt in the weight room, but of course, she blamed herself for using weight that was too light. Five minuted later, I see here training again. Because they couldn't get her an appointment to the dentist until the next day, she just decided to finish here workout with her took broke in half.
Sam I Am.
I am not sure how Sam Rumschlag broke her foot, but she ended up with a stress fracture during her senior year. The starting pitcher missed most of the season. There was a chance she may be ready for the conference tournament. I had one directive from the trainer and the coach. No weight bearing activities at all.
I had to be very creative and that protocol helped me immensely with future situations. When Heather Larsen had a torn ACL (from playing flag football mind you) I could not invent enough demonic single leg exercises that she couldn't master. With Sam, it was a lot of single leg, open chain with the booted leg, and seated upper body. She did everything I asked, got really jacked, and was awarded the NCAC conference tournament MVP. No excuses just opportunities.
I could go on about all the women who worked through elbows and shoulders and knees. There are also the emotional trials these ladies endured. The death of a teammate, a parent, along with life's cruel happenings that you have to play through and live through. Ozbun has been the glue holding it all together.
The one thing that is also really cool about these ladies is there are several coaches, teachers, PTs, and so on. It;s nice to see MB Krolikowski as an assistant S&C coach at Pitt and Becca Dyer, an assistant SB coach at Lake Erie College.
TRAINING FOR SOFTBALL
I will outline our basic off-season schedule we used from 2006 until 2013. Dension has either won the regular-season, conference tournament, or both 7 out of those 8 years. Probably because they were good softball players and were well coached. But, I would like to think we stayed healthy and played our best softball toward the end of the year.
Considerations for Female Athletes
This could be an article in itself, but to be honest, there are really not as many as you think.
- Band Progressions for Pull-Ups along with the implementation of Diesel rows for a vertical pull variation.
- Obvious Adjustments with accommodating resistance. These are mostly based on strength levels regardless of gender, but the starting point is light bands for squats and micro-minis with bench.
- Upper Body plyometrics will be elevated or band resisted unless engaging in deceleration type push-up sequences.
Off-Season Schedule (Jan-Mar) 8 Weeks
- MONDAY: Speed, Agility, Plyometrics
- TUESDAY: Ballistics, Strength Training, Extensive Conditioning
- THURSDAY: Speed, Plyometric, Strength Training, Intensive Conditioning
- High knee, lateral high knee, tapioca
- 45 pogos, moguls
- Lunge w/ Elbow to Instep w/ Rotation, Straighted and Dorsi-flex
- Straight Leg Kicks, Low Shuffle, Karioka
- Skater Jumps to Sprint
- Power Skips to Sprint
Jump Training Sequence
- Broad Jumps
- Single Leg Broad Jumps
- Stair Jumps Sequence
- Lateral Bound Series
- Single Leg Sprints
- Lateral Starts
- Pro Agility Series
- 4 Cone Drill Series
- 3 Cone Drill
- Scramble Starts
- Push-Up Starts
- Mirror Sprints
- Rabbit Sprints
Competitive Speed Groups
- 10-30yds (200yd total Volume
Clean or KB Swing
- Hang Clean 75% for 4 triples
- Clean from Blocks 70% for 5 doubles
- Clean from Floor 80% for 8 singles
- KB Swings 4x10
Trap Bar DL or RDL
- Work up to a 3-5RM/ 6-8RM for RDL
- same wt x -2reps
- -10% x +2 reps
Bench Press Variation:
- Work up to a 3-5RM,
- same wt x -2reps
- -10% x +2 reps
- Fat Bar Bench Press
- Swiss Press Bar Bench Press
- Bench Press with Chains
- Bench Press with Bands (micros)
Rotational Power Drills
- Neutral Grip
- Diesel Row
- Band Pull-Down
- Prisoner Side Step-Up
- Split Squat (BF in Strap)
- Reverse Lunge
- Tempo Runs
- DB Snatch 4 triples
- Hang Snatch 75% for 4 triples
- Snatch from Blocks 70% for 5 doubles
- Work up to a 3-5RM,
- same wt x -2reps
- -10% x +2 reps
- 1 Arm DB Push Press
- Barbell Overhead Press
- Barbell Push Press
Work up to a 3-5RM,
same wt x -2reps
-10% x +2 reps
- Front Squat
- SS Yoke Bar Squat
- Barbell Box Squat wtih Chains
- Barbell Squat With Bands
Box Jumps 10-20 foot contacts
- Box Jumps
- Single Leg Box Jumps
- Seated Box Jumps
- Depth Jumps
SL RDL/ GHR Combo
- Glute-Ham Raise Variation (with or without resistance) 25-50 reps
- SLRDL w/ Plate, 1DB, or Band 2-3 x8-15
- 1 Arm Blast Strap Row
- 1 Arm DB Row
- 1 Arm KB Row from Floor
BEOFRE EVERY STRENGTH SESSION
Hurdle Drill: Lateral Step over/ Duck Under to Lunge
Banded Squat Series
- Band Shoulder Circuit
- Dumbbell Shoulder Circuit
- Blast Strap Shoulder Circuit
- Band TKEs
- Band Hip ABduction
- Bird Dogs
Fall Outs or Roll-Outs
AFTER EVERY STRENGTH SESSION
Upper Arm Circuit
Ulnar Radial Deviation
Wrist curls, Reverse wrist curls
- 200x5 (1 viper, 3 strict, 1 PP)
- 200x3 (1 viper, 1 strict, 1PP)
Rotational Med Ball Throws - 5kg
- Standing x5
- Shotput x3
- Crowhop x5
- COD x5
Trap Bar Deadlift
supersetted with Box Jumps 3x3
inverted Ys @45d 10s x10
inverted Ys @ 30d 10s x10
standing lateral raise 10s x10