There are a number of skills you need to master to become a great softball player: running, throwing, strength, analytical skills, softball knowledge, flexibility, teamwork, etc. Getting enough practice to hone these skills is crucial if you want to take your game to the next level.
Having confidence in yourself and your skills takes time and dedication. We're going to go over 6 softball exercises that will help you both hone your technical skills and help you gain experience and confidence in the game of softball.
Sprints might be used as a punishment by some coaches, but the best coaches (and players) know that speed and agility are essential skills needed by all softball players. You don't have to be the fastest one on the team, but you do need to be going as fast as you can and putting the most effort possible into your running game.
Start by having all the players line up at home plate. Have them get into their batting stance and mime swinging. Then, they'll take off towards first.
Have the player keep all of the running mechanics in mind for running to first: run all the way through the bag at a full sprint.
Have them circle back into the line after sprinting to first. Then, repeat the sprint but run to second. Again, follow all of the major mechanics of running to second: round your run at you near first, keeping the path curved towards 2nd base before coming to a complete stop on the bag.
Next, repeat but run to third. And, you guessed it, repeat a fourth time running all the way home.
This will keep players' running mechanics sharp while also improving running skills and speed on the diamond.
This is a drill for pitchers, but it can be adjusted to fit all players. A line of players will be on the pitcher's mound and another line at first base.
The pitcher will pitch the ball to a catcher (usually a coach or a specified catcher). If you're doing this drill with fielders instead of pitchers, they can just throw the ball to the catcher in a normal throw.
Instead of throwing the ball back to the pitcher, the catcher will throw the ball as a grounder, fly, or line-drive in a random direction. The pitcher must then field the ball properly and make a good throw to first base.
You can repeat this drill with the same pitcher/fielder multiple times, or switch out pitchers once they make a good play.
This will give the pitcher practice adjusting from pitching to field as they would have to in a game. It also can generally be a great fielding drill, as the pitcher/field must be ready to field any type of hit. They'll also get to practice making clean throws to 1st, which is an essential skill.
The first basemen will also get practice receiving throws.
Regarding strength training, doing squat variations are some of the best for a softball player to build strength. Squats will build strength in not only your quads, but your hamstrings, calves, core, back, and glutes.
If you don't have access to a squat rack or a gym that has one, simply doing squats with no weight will help you build strength. These are especially important for catchers who have to be in the squat position and explode up out of it with power throughout the game.
This is another great fielding drill that will boost a player's confidence in both their fielding and throwing skills. Have a player start in the outfield. Hit them a fly ball. Once they field it, have them throw into a catcher.
Once they release their throw, have them start sprinting in. Using the same ball they threw back to you, hit them a grounder. They'll then have to adjust their run to field the ball and throw it cleanly back to the catcher.
This will give players practice fielding all kinds of possible hits while also giving them practice making plays while on the move, which is essential during gameplay.
Going back to the strength training aspect, kettlebell swings are a great way to build up the muscles used for batting. Grab a kettlebell with both hands in a squat position. As you come up from the squat position, swing the kettlebell up directly in front of you for 8-10 reps.
Next, take the kettlebell in one hand. Bring this arm directly above your head. With your legs in a wide stance (shoulder-width apart) and your eyes trained on the kettlebell, bring your other arm down to touch the floor while keeping your back straight.
Repeat this motion 8-10 times before switching arms.
You'll need partners for this one. Both partners need a glove with one ball shared between the partners. Both partners should be positioned a short distance from each other.
Both partners start running alongside each other in the same direction. As they run, they'll underhand toss the ball between them. This will improve the players' stamina with running while also teaching them how to run and throw the ball at the same time.
This movement is essential to get down properly, as it's a typical one infielders use when fielding both ground and fly balls. It also teaches the partners to work together and communicate, which is another essential part of softball.
Gaining confidence in your skills will only come with dedication, practice, and effort. Taking the time to go through these six softball exercises will improve your running skills, your fielding skills, your throwing ability, your strength, and your confidence all at once.
If you'd like to learn more tips on how to improve your game, check out our blog. You can also check out our website to deck yourself out with team merch to get you and your teammates hyped for the big game.