It’s a common goal for softball players to want to increase their speed. With the diamond being so small, every step counts and the off-season strength program can make a big impact. In this article, you’ll learn how to improve speed for softball using a few compound strength and conditioning exercises for the legs.
#1: The Hamstring Triple Threat
The hamstring triple threat is a great combination exercise that can be done in any gym, in your living room, or even on the field. It requires just a stability ball, and will CRUSH the hamstrings and glutes, two of the major leg muscles that contribute to sprinting speed on the softball diamond.
Recommended Sets & Reps: 3 sets of 10-10-10
#2: Dumbbell Reverse Lunge
A very overrated exercise, the reverse lunge is underutilized despite being very knee-friendly and great for developing strong quads, gluten and lateral hip muscles.
Definitely prioritize these above regular forward walking lunges, as they are MUCH less likely to cause knee pain, especially in young, growing athletes.
The one drawback is that athletes tend to shy away from heavy weights because their hands get tired. The fact that the dumbbells must be held – rather than having a bar on the back – is actually a big advantage because forearm and grip strength is also very, very important in softball.
Recommended Sets & Reps: 3 sets of 8 per leg
#3. The Goblet Squat
The goblet squat is a very safe squat variation that builds the core and teaches excellent squat fundamentals.
Because the weight is held in front of the chest, it forces the core to work VERY hard and forces the back to brace, keeping it in a safe position. It’s virtually impossible to have a round, unsafe back in the goblet squat because the weight would be gone long before the back was allowed to round.
Recommended Sets & Reps: 3 sets of 12 reps
This should be a fundamental exercise that all softball players know how to do, as the goblet squat sets the tone for learning how to front squat, back squat, and deadlift, all of which are amazing long-term leg and speed builders.
Put Them All Together and GET FASTER
It’s important to remember that the key for any player to improve speed for softball is a combination of four factors:
- Getting stronger, so more total force can be applied to the ground
- Getting more explosive, so more force can be applied faster to the ground
- Improving sprinting technique, so force is transferred more efficiently
- Actually running sprints!
I can’t stress enough how many players complain, moan and whine about how they’re not fast enough…but yet they NEVER SPRINT! You cannot expect to get faster without going out to the field and regularly running full-speed sprints with adequate rest (walk back and feel fully rested between each).
Just like any other skill, you have to do the thing you want to improve at: sprint to get better at sprinting!
Use these three exercises as part of your training regiment, and you’ll improve your softball-specific speed faster than you thought possible.
Need to Throw Harder?
If you’re interested in throwing harder from the field (I specialized in teaching softball players how to throw harder overhand) download my free eBook.
I also offer an extensive online course on throwing that will help any player gain miles per hour and accuracy on her throws. It’s called She’s Got a Cannon and it’s an amazing step-by-step resource for players, parents and coaches.
Good luck this season! – Dan