Softball Workouts: How to Build Your Own for Fastpitch Teams and Individuals

softball workouts
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest

Need a great softball strength training program for yourself or your team to follow? In this article, you’ll learn how to create your own softball workouts for fastpitch AND get a free one to use today.

Softball Strength Workouts: The Complete Guide For Players and Coaches

In this guide to fastpitch workouts, I’ll teach you everything you need to know to build your own training program for yourself or your softball team.

You’ll learn a tremendous amount in this article, but if you’d rather get started on a free online softball workout program right now, I have one of those for you as well.

Early Work Fastpitch Online Strength Program

Early Work Softball Training is my online strength training program for softball players, and we offer a 14-day free trial for you to test it out.

Need a Great

Softball Workout Plan?

Versions for all ages with a 14-Day Free Trial

free online softball workouts

If you spend the time reading this detailed article, you’ll have all the tools you need to build great strength and conditioning workouts for softball teams or individuals that will be safe, effective and easy to learn and coach.

Introduction: Why Create Your Own Softball Workouts? And What Core Principles Should You Follow?

softball team workouts

I’ve been a strength coach for over a decade now, and the key principles that have always guided me are the following. I hope you share them:

  • Do no harm and do everything possible to ensure safe, injury-free training
  • Never fit the athlete to the exercise
  • Always find exercises that fit to the athlete
  • Coach to build confidence, good technique and a strong work ethic
  • Be a mentor, friend and good influence over those we train
  • Do no harm and do everything possible to ensure safe, injury-free training (this is worth repeating

As you go through this guide to creating smart, effective softball workouts, please remember the above principles are what guide everything you’ll read here.

Major Coaching Do’s and Don’ts in Strength Training

First, let’s go over a few coaching tips:

Do This

  • Coach for improvement, not perfection
    • Young athletes need coaching and will get better over time. They will NOT be perfect the first time
  • Choose exercises that allow a margin of safety with imperfect form
    • If an exercise is dangerous with less than perfect form, then it’s not right for a young athlete.
  • Give a pointer or correction per set–maybe two tops–then leave them be
    • Overcoaching is SUPER annoying to everyone. Give them a tip, then let them work.
    • If you’re constantly coaching every aspect of every set of every exercise, athletes will hate being coached by you
  • Be Tough on Form and Effort, but Encouraging, Positive and Helpful
    • Being a drill sargeant isn’t the way to be, especially with female athletes. Be tough where necessary, but overall be helpful, encouraging and excited for them when they’re making visible progress.

Don’t Do This

  • Don’t Fit the exercise to the athlete
    • By this I mean that no exercise MUST be performed by any person. The deadlift is a great exercise, but it’s not right for everyone. Think of the athlete first and what they can and cannot do. Then, choose exercises for them. If something doesn’t work or causes pain, assign a different exercise.
  • Don’t Expect perfection
    • We all know that building a great softball swing takes years…right? Yet, we fail to employ this same mindset when coaching athletes in the weight room. Be a stickler on form so that athletes can safely perform exercises (or find a different exercise for them if they can’t). But, remember that just like softball skills, becoming skilled in the weight room takes take. Many movements seem simple but take a lot of focus, balance, coordination and strength to get right.
    • So, be careful not to overcoach – give a pointer or two per set and make sure basic safety stuff is taken care of. Then, let them get to work.
  • Don’t Assume Kids Are Adding Weight and Challenging Themselves
    • Part of your job as strength coach is to stay involved – check their workout program sheets and ask questions about how things are going, how they’re feeling, what weights they’ve been using and if/how they’ve been progressing. Don’t assume they’re challenging themselves–you’re job is to inspect and suggest more or less weight, when to go harder or easier, etc.
  • Don’t Turn Your Back
    • Orient yourself in the weight room to survey as much of the room as possible. Good positioning allows you to help one athlete while simultaneously keeping tabs on others.

Follow these general rules and you’ll be off to a great start building buy-in and helping your players make significant progress in the weight room.

Chapter 1: Key Movements In Fastpitch

Let’s talk about key movements that we see in softball:

  1. Sprinting
    • Movements: Primarily hip extension + knee flexion + knee extension
    • Importance: 9/10
  2. Jumping
    • Movements: Knee and hip extension
    • Importance: 5/10
  3. Change of Direction
    • Movements: Lateral hip extension
    • Importance: 10/10
  4. Swinging a bat
    • Movement types: Rotation + hip extension
    • Importance: 9/10
  5. Throwing a ball
    • Movement: Rotation + hip extension + lateral hip extension
    • Importance: 10/10
  6. Pitching
    • Movement: Hip extension + lateral hip extension
    • Importance: 10/10 (if you’re a pitcher)

The Pattern of Movements in Softball

  • There is a LOT of hip extension in softball…
  • …and a lot of lateral hip extension in softball
  • and a lot of rotation in softball.

Example of Hip Extension: Sprinting

Hip extension is when the hip joint straightens, such as when a player is running. The hip extends to propel the body forward.

softball rotational exercises

Having stronger hamstrings and glutes–muscles that extend the hip–are key for becoming a faster baserunner and improving home to first time.

For more exercises specifically for speed, check out this article on speed training exercises.

Example of Lateral Hip Extension: Throwing and Pitching

Hip extension is also key when throwing a ball. the stride is also a sideways movement–another example of lateral hip extension.

softball pitching workouts

Recommended article: Go here for a great read with softball throwing drills and videos.

Example of Core Rotation: Hitting

The hips and core rotate to produce most of the power in a swing – it’s NOT nearly as much about the arms as some young players believe.

softball online training

We’ll focus heavily on exercises that train both the movements and muscles that are involved in softball. Making a workout softball-specific means focusing most of our time on the core “big” lifts and movements all athletes need, with about 20% of our time spent on the really important movements and muscles specially related to softball skills.

Recommended article: Go here for a great read on exercises to improve softball hitting power and videos.

Good Training Is NOT About Adding Resistance to Sports Movements

Beware that it’s a common mistake to use weighted tennis rackets, golf clubs with bands attached, sprint parachutes and all sorts of modes of resistance added to sports skills. We do NOT want to just add resistant to a softball swing or throwing motion. We’re not going to just make everyone sprint with a sled to strengthen their sprinting muscles. We won’t give them a weighted bat to improve their rotational power.

Rather, what we’ll do is choose exercises that strengthen the muscles involved in these movements in a new way, in a way that allows us to safely add a new stimulus to the body that isn’t exactly the same as we see on the field. Some exercises – like medicine ball throws – will look a lot like a swing, but not too much like a swing. After all, we don’t want to screw someone’s throwing motion or pitching motion up because we attached bands and got them all out of whack.

Chapter 2: Key Muscle Groups to Train in a Softball Workout

To know why we’re choosing certain exercises, we first need to know what muscles are critical for increasing speed, batspeed, pitching velocity and throwing velocity. Smart softball workouts are targeted, so we need to break down the critical muscle groups for improving fastpitch performance while decreasing the risk of injury.

Muscle Group 1: Posterior Chain

The posterior chain is the “booty group,” and refers to the muscles in the back of the legs: the glutes and hamstrings. As we discussed already, these muscles are primarily responsible for sprinting, jumping, lateral movement and producing force through the ground.

The quadriceps are not part of the posterior chain. Though the quads are also about 1/3 responsible for sprinting power, they’re often more developed than the hamstrings and glutes, and as such are less of a focus in a good softball workout. Typically, we’ll assign a 2:1 ratio of posterior chain to quadriceps-dominant leg exercises.

Muscle Group 2: Hands and Forearms

What do you hold a bat and ball with? Yep – the hands and forearms are very important not only for preventing elbow injuries from throwing and pitching, but also in producing power at the plate and getting a little extra oomph on overhand throws.

A great exercise for hand and forearm strength is the farmer’s walk. This exercise is also great for the back, core and mental toughness.

Muscle Group 3: Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that stabilize the shoulder.

The rotator cuff muscles keep the upper arm bone (humerus) held securely in the socket. Weak rotator cuff muscles are often the cause of throwing arm pain, especially in softball players who are naturally more loose-jointed than baseball players. Rotator cuff exercises are critical for both shoulder health and velocity for pitching and overhand throwing.

Recommended Reading: Article on arm strength exercises for softball.

Check out the injury prevention section a bit further down this page for three great rotator cuff exercises.

Muscle Group 4: The Core

Core strength is key for fastpitch players because it transmits the power created by the legs to the upper body, where it will then flow to the arms, and finally the softball or bat. The core is the critical link connecting lower and upper half, and so training it for both stability and explosive rotation is essential.

A great exercise for the core that’s softball specific is the medicine ball side toss with step.

Muscle Group 5: The Back

The muscles in the anterior upper body (chest and arms) are important, but are not nearly as useful in softball as the muscles of the back, which aid in decelerating the arm after throws and in supporting the entire body’s posture on more heavy leg lifts like squats and deadlifts.

A strong back is like hardwood flooring – it creates a solid, durable, foundation for the entire home. A strong back allows athletes to lift heavier, safely, and thus players a major contributing role in producing more leg power and speed.

The kneeling 1-arm high-low row is a great exercise for softball players that builds back strength and shoulder stability.

Other Important Muscle Groups: Lateral Hips & Scapula Stabilizers

The scapula stabilizers move and keep the shoulder blades healthy – keeping these muscles well-conditioned is critical for overhand throwing and pitching. Lateral hip muscles, as we mentioned, are important in producing force against the ground in lateral movements like change of direction and striding in hitting, pitching and throwing. Additionally, the lateral hip muscles stabilize the knee and thus can help prevent knee injuries like ACL tears when strong and well-conditioned.

The Whole Body Is Important, But…

The whole body is important, so if I’m leaving a muscle group out here (like the pectoralis) it’s not because it’s not important.

Rather, some muscles WILL be included in our workouts, but just aren’t worth spending too much time on. We’ll do lots of pressing exercises that strengthen the arms and pecs (such as push ups), but they’re just not as critical as rowing exercises, for example or exercises that target the glutes.

I don’t want to omit anything – the WHOLE body is important – but certain muscles aren’t in the top-5 list for softball players, whereas they might be for other exercises. Push ups or bench press are much more important exercises for a female rugby player than a softball player, for example.

Need a Great

Softball Workout Plan?

Versions for all ages with a 14-Day Free Trial

free online softball workouts

Chapter 3: How Softball Workouts Can Prevent Common Injuries

As we touched on before, having injury prevention exercises for common fastpitch injuries is an important aspect of the selection process when creating a workout. A softball workout is not complete without exercises that strengthen the following muscles groups:

  • The Rotator Cuff
  • The Lateral Hip Muscles
  • The Scapula Stabilizers

Let’s go over a few exercises for these important injury prevention muscle groups.

AND – don’t forget that if you’re looking to improve your throwing ability and the way your arm feels, be sure to read my in-depth article on softball throwing mechanics.

Exercises for the Rotator Cuff

The rotator cuff component of softball workouts is very, very important. Here are a few of our favorite rotator cuff exercises:

  • 1. Scaption Raise: 3 sets of 15 reps
  • 2. Dumbbell External Rotation: 3 sets of 15 reps
  • 3. Band Internal Rotation: 3 sets of 15 reps

Scaption Raise

Dumbbell External Rotation

Band Internal Rotation

Exercises for the Lateral Hips

The lateral hips are especially important for female athletes like softball players. ACL tear risk for women is roughly 3x higher than men, according to numerous studies. The ACL is a main stabilizing ligament in the knee, and is injured when the knee collapses inward on a bad jump landing or when changing directions.

Favorite Lateral Hip Exercises:

  • 1. Lateral Band Walk: 3 sets of 20-40yds
  • 2. Skater Jumps: 3 sets of 6-8 jumps per side (these help teach good landings)
  • 3. Side Planks: 3 sets of :30 per side

Lateral Band Walk

Skater Jumps

Side Planks

Exercises for the Scapula Stabilizers

Scapula stabilizer exercises – which help keep throwing shoulders healthy and promote proper shoulder blade movement – involve “sliding” the shoulder blades in different directions. They’re most often done with little to no added weight.

Some of our favorite exercises for the scap stabilizers:

A-Y-A

Blackburns

Scap Push Ups

Chapter 4: How to Group Exercises For Maximum Results

We don’t to create a workout by just randomly grabbing exercises and compiling them into a workout, even if the exercises themselves are great choices for softball players.

Rather, smart program design takes into account the following factors

  1. Utilizing “active rest,” which means one muscle group is getting rest even while the athlete continues to work hard on a different exercise. The upper body can be resting during many lower body exercises, for example.
  2. Choosing exercises that maximize time and space in the weight room. It’s a good ideal to consider the layout of the weight room so athletes can go from one exercise to the next in a “superset” quickly.
  3. Using supersets and tri-sets to maximize time efficiency and keep the heart rate elevated. A superset means doing exercise A, then exercise B, then alternating between the two until both are complete. A tri-set adds a third to the mix.
  4. Considering the scope of the entire week of training. Every workout does not need to hit every muscle group or movement, provided that all key elements are covered during the entire week or even month of training. It’s a mistake to try and cram every exercise into every workout

Using Active Rest in Supersets and Tri-Sets in a Softball Workout

create softball strength workouts

What is a Superset?

A superset is when two exercises are alternated until both are complete. This is typically written in the following format, and a superset could be two exercises or more.

  • A1. Push Ups
  • A2. Chin Ups
    • These two make up a superset, and they’d be referred to as the “A Group” or the “A Set” on an athlete’s workout sheet.

The main concept to cover here for supersets is active rest. Active rest is when we perform one exercise, then another that uses different muscle groups during the rest period.

Example: Not Using Active Rest

  • Chin Ups – 4 sets with 90 seconds rest and no alternated exercise in between
    • This is a difficult upper-body “pulling” exercise…
  • [Rest for 90 seconds]
    • Rest is necessary, but we can be doing something productive in these 90 seconds rather than just sitting around.
    • Over the course of an hour-long workout, this format means we’ve done much less actual work than a person utilizing either of the techniques below (even the poor example).

Example: Poor Active Rest Because of Bad Exercise Pairing

  • A1. Chin Ups
    • This is a difficult upper-body “pulling” exercise…
  • A2. Barbell Row
    • This is also an upper-body pulling exercise, so the back muscles will still be fatigued, making this exercise too hard to perform with good, safe form.
    • After just one rotation, the back will be very tired and both exercises will suffer – they’ll get too difficult and form will suffer.

Example: Effective Active Rest

  • A1. Push Ups
    • This is an upper-body exercise…
  • A2. Goblet Squats
    • …so we pair it with a lower body exercise that allows the arms to rest while doing squats for the legs.

In the example above, our upper body rests while the lower body works. Then, the lower body rests while the upper body works. This is what we want in a good softball workout! The athlete’s heart rate stays elevated, she does more work in the time provided and gets rest for one body part while the others work.

Need a Great

Softball Workout Plan?

Versions for all ages with a 14-Day Free Trial

free online softball workouts

The takeaway is that when we pair exercises–which is a large piece of good workout program design–we should be looking to keep the body active while giving each muscle group adequate rest between sets.

Chapter 5: Periodization: How to Keep Making Longterm Progress

Periodization is a simple but effective tool that helps athletes progress toward their competitive season and their goals. There are a few different types of periodization, but for our purposes we’ll talk about three main types:

  • Linear periodization
  • Undulating periodization
  • A hybrid of both

For more on periodization, check out this excellent article that contains summaries and links to lots of research.

Linear Periodization

Linear periodization looks like this:

  • Phase 1: General Physical Preparedness
    • Getting the body into decent general shape – could be through running, biking or other cardio calisthenics, light strength training, sports, etc.
    • The body needs to have a decent “work capacity” to handle more rigorous strength training.
    • For most athletes who are already active, this phase is very short or folded into their hypertrophy phases
    • But for an athlete who might have been injured, sick, or gotten very out of shape for an extended period of time, this phase would be more important.

This phase sets a good foundation to make phase 2 easier, but is, again, usually not very long or is mixed in with the hypertrophy phase for most athletes who are already relatively active.

  • Phase 2: Hypertrophy (building muscle size)
    • In a hypertrophy phase, we’re trying to get bigger muscles, because muscles with a bigger cross-sectional area can do more work and gain more strength.
    • Essentially, if we get a softball player 10lbs bigger, her capacity to get significantly stronger also increases in proportion with that strength
    • Sure, there are many strong people who aren’t that big, but in general we know that the most strong and powerful people are also bigger people.
    • We’ll use 3-5 sets of 8-15 reps in this phase, with exercises focused on packing on muscle. Jumps would be an example of exercises that would not meet this goal.

This phase can last as long as it needs to – for an athlete who needs to put on a lot of muscle, a hypertrophy phase may last a significant portion of the year until that goal is achieved, with adjustments made to accommodate the season approaching. But it wouldnt make good sense to spend too much time on other phases when muscle size remains the most important goal.

  • Phase 3: Strength
    • In the strength phase, we use significantly heavier weights, which means lower reps and more sets. Examples would be 5 sets of 3 reps on squats or 6 sets of 2 reps on deadlifts. These lower repetitions mean a higher percentage of an athlete’s maximum is lifted, and so it’s not possible to do sets of 8, 10, 12 reps with such loads.
    • The goal here is essentially to convert the muscle size into increased strength. Being big isn’t helpful unless you’re strong and can put more force into the softball or ground, to increase sprint speed, bat speed and throwing speed.
    • Not all exercises are subject to low reps, as “accessory” exercises will still remain in a more typical 6-15 rep range.

The strength phase is important because it puts all of that muscle to work. An athlete works hard to get big in the weight room, but we don’t want a bunch of slow, lumbering players on the field. Rather, we want fast, strong, powerful athletes and so changing reps and sets (and exercises) helps accomplish that.

  • Phase 4: Power / Speed
    • This is typically the final phase before the competitive season, so that an athlete is big, strong and explosive – meeting the needs of pretty much all sports.
    • Power refers to application of strength over time – how fast an athlete can apply his or her force against resistance.
    • Once significant size and strength have been built, the goal is to teach the body to apply that strength fast. Sprints, jumps, swings and throws are all about creating a powerful pulse of force in a very short time. Tractors have tremendous torque in their engines but apply that torque to the ground very slow. Ferraris, however, also have engines with tremendous torque but apply that power VERY fast when the gas pedal is pressed.

So this final phase before the season will involve more jumps, sprints, plyometric exercises, medicine ball throws and exercises done with a lower percentage of an athlete’s maximum weight. The goal is to use lower weights and move the weights as fast as possible, to train the central nervous system (CNS) to become faster and more responsive.

Again, the thing to remember here is that building size and strength is important, but applying that strength quickly to the bat, ball or ground is what’s critical in becoming a better softball player.

Undulating Periodization

Undulating periodization takes elements from the phases above not in a strict phase 1-2-3-4 configuration, but rather going in waves from month to month, week to week or another scheme.

An athlete might be on a plan that undulates from strength to hypertrophy every month, alternating until some desired goal or metric is achieved. The theory behind it is that weights can be increased from the benefits of each training block – the athlete gets bigger in month one so she can lift heavier weights in month two, then returns to hypertrophy where she lifts even heavier weights for higher reps. It could look like the following in a simplified example:

  • Month 1: Hypertrophy
    • Athlete squats 100lbs for 3 sets of 10 reps
  • Month Two: Strength:
    • Athlete squats 150lbs for 5 sets of 3 reps

After months one and two, the athlete is now significantly bigger and stronger. So months three and four look like this:

  • Month Three: Hypertrophy again
    • Athlete squats 125lbs for 3 sets of 10 reps
    • Now that she’s significantly stronger, she can do more weight for more reps, which increases how fast she gets even bigger
  • Month Four: Strength Again
    • Athlete squats 175lbs for 5 sets of 3 reps

This above example is simplified, but hopefully it shows what undulating periodization looks like on a basic level. Personally, I prefer a hybridized model that contains elements of both, and of course tailoring it to the athlete and their needs is always best. The nice thing about online softball workouts today is that they are easily customized, compared to the pen and paper programs of the past.

Chapter 6: Sets & Reps and Why They Matter

softball team workout

Sets and reps are critical to understand for the following reasons:

  • Reps determine how much weight can be used on an exercise
  • Reps play a large role in fatigue, both during the workout and the next day, etc.
  • Reps play a role in determining the training effect from an exercise – whether it builds conditioning, muscle size, strength or speed
  • Sets control the volume of your softball workouts – too few sets will prevent goals from being reached and training effects from being achieved
  • Sets also control recovery and overtraining – too many sets will make it difficult to recover, can lead to overtraining, burnout and poor performance in games
  • Sets and reps have to change typically each month to prevent the body from habituating (getting used to) exercises and the overall workout

Understanding Common Repetitions and Rep Ranges

In most workouts, sets will contain exercises with a range from 2-15 reps. Occasionally, 1-rep and 20-rep sets make good sense, but they’re rare and most sets fall into the 2-15 range.

Hypertrophy Sets and Rep Ranges

For building muscle size (and some strength, too), the best sets and reps are:

  • 4×12
  • 3×12
  • 4×10
  • 3×10
  • 4×8
  • 4×8-12
  • 3×8-12
  • 3×12-15

I included some ranges here (3×10-12 is an example) because there’s not really that big a difference between doing 10, 11 or 12 reps in a set. Within a 3-repetition range is usually suitable to accomplish the goal in question in the hypertrophy phase. No reasonable coach would say “you have to do exactly 10 reps! or exactly 12! Somewhere between 10-12 accomplishes the same goals as 10 exactly, 11 exactly, or 12 exactly, so giving ranges for exercises is often a sensible thing to do, provided the player is working hard.

Strength Sets and Rep Ranges

For building strength, the most common strength sets and rep schemes are the following:

  • 5×5
  • 4×5
  • 5×3
  • 4×3
  • 6×2
  • 5×2

You’ll notice that all of the sets x reps schemes above were 4 or more sets. This is because as weights get heavier and repetitions get lower, we need more sets to make up volume. Doing 2 sets of 3 reps won’t create a sufficient training effect to build strength, so we typically go to 4-6 sets of 2-5 reps.

Remember: athletes also build strength during a hypertrophy phase – nothing is ever absolute and it’s not to say that one only gets stronger during a strength phase of a workout program. Rather, one progresses to strength rep ranges when a sufficient base of muscle size has been built, AND the athlete is capable of lifting heavier loads safely, with good form. It is difficult to maintain good, safe form with higher percentages of one’s max lifting weight.

Speed / Power Rep Ranges

For exercises like jumps and plyometric exercises (which teach the body to decelerate itself faster, and thus increase power output), we use a similar scheme of sets and reps to those found in a strength phase:

  • 8×2
  • 7×2
  • 6×2
  • 6×3
  • 5×3
  • 4×3

Because the goal is to be as fast and explosive as possible with these types of exercises, we can’t do too many without resting. Doing sets of 4, 5, or 6 can be enough to cause fatigue that makes speed training less effective. Though reps up to 6 can be used, it just depends on more factors – the exercise, how it’s performed, etc.

Need a Great

Softball Workout Plan?

Versions for all ages with a 14-Day Free Trial

free online softball workouts

Chapter 7: Total Volume and Days Per Week

It’s not enough to know just what exercises, sets and reps are good choices – total volume of work has to be taken into consideration as well. Additionally, finding a balance for young athletes is important to keeping them interested and not feeling burned out over a long training career.

Remember: we don’t to crush players in the weight room today, just to have them quit a year later.

The Right Amount of Days per Week

For days per week, the following guidelines are about right for most athletes:

  • 8-10 years old: 2 days per week
  • 10-12 years old: 2 or 3 days per week
  • 12-13 years old: 2 or preferably 3 days per week
  • 13-14 years old: 3 days per week
  • 15-17 years old: 3-4 days per week
  • 17+ years old: 3-5 days per week

There are lots of considerations here, so let’s discuss a few of them:

  • Burnout: weight training is fun for some, not so much for others. Don’t make it feel like a job for them, so err on the side of less training if they’re not in love with it.
  • Open growth plates: there is no risk of stunting growth, and strength training and fitness in general is good for young people. But, not overloading kids who are still growing is important, so we don’t treat a 12-year-old the same as a 16-year-old.
  • Overall training and sports volume: How much are they doing other fitness or athletic activities? If a kid is playing basketball 5 days per week after school, adding an additional four days of strength training is likely too much, especially for a middle schooler.
  • Injury history: Is there a history of knee pain? Shoulder pain? Be cautious with volume when a player may have something chronic that could flare up with too much overall training volume.
  • In-season vs off-season: In-season training volume is lower to prevent fatigue and combat a rigorous game schedule. Workouts are typically shorter, too.

Total Volume of Sets

Total volume refers to the total weekly or monthly amount of sets, and to a lesser degree, reps.

For most players on typical softball workouts, they’ll complete 18-24 sets in the main portion of a typical work. This doesn’t include warm up or extra accessory exercises like arm care, for example. That might look like this:

  • A1. Squats 4×12
  • A2. Seated Rows 4×12
  • B1. Push Ups 3×20
  • B2. Prone Ls 3×15
  • C1. Romanian Deadlifts 3×12
  • C2. Farmers Carries 3x40yd

This workout above is six exercises with a total volume of 20 sets (4 exercises x 3 sets and 2 exercises x 4 sets).

Tack on a warm up at the beginning and some injury prevention work at the end, and this would fill out an hour-long workout just about perfectly.

This 18-24 set volume is tolerated well by most people without causing undue fatigue or overtraining, and is enough to produce a significant training effect. 3-4 days per week of this volume is a good general rule of thumb for most athletes, though certainly there are exceptions and different circumstances to consider.

Chapter 8: Safety Considerations: Choosing Appropriate Exercises For Different Movements

Some exercises are safer than others and require less coaching to be safe than others. Especially for a coach who has to supervise an entire weight room full of athletes, having a softball strength and conditioning program that is easy to coach while still being very safe is essential. Remember that pretty much any exercise can be very safe or very dangerous depending on the appropriateness for the athlete, the coaching and the environment.

Here are some breakdowns of exercise safety, along with the amount of coaching required to help players stay safe while doing them.

Squatting Exercises (safest listed first)

  • Bodyweight squat (safest, but also not the most effective long term)
  • Goblet Squat
  • Front Squat
  • Back Squat (not as appropriate for beginners, but still very safe when coached well)

Pressing Exercises (safest listed first)

  • Push Ups (safest, with little to no injury risk even if done poorly)
  • Landmine Press
  • Dumbbell Bench press
  • Barbell Bench Press
  • Overhead press (pressing barbells overhead safely requires mental maturity, focus, and some requisite strength)

Rowing Exercises (safest listed first)

Rowing exercises are inherently very safe, so safety here comes down moreso to the body positions the athlete is in. The most difficult row to perform safely is probably the bent-over barbell row, which requires more significant lower back strength, postural awareness and overall body strength. Most rowing exercises are very safe, and should be incorporated in your softball workouts at a 2:1 ratio of rowing to pressing exercises.

  • Inverted, TRX or body row (uses bodyweight, rowing the body toward suspension straps)
  • Seated row
  • 1-Arm DB rows
  • Lat pull down
  • Chin ups / pull ups
  • Barbell Rows (bent over, rowing a heavy barbell toward the chest)

Posterior Chain, AKA Hip-Hinging Exercises (safest listed first)

These posterior chain exercises focus on the glutes and hamstrings and movements that hinge at the waist.

  • 1-Leg Bodyweight Hip Thrusts
  • Barbell Hip Thrusts
  • 1-Leg Romanian Deadlifts
  • Trap (Hex) Bar Deadlifts
  • Romanian Deadlifts
  • Straight Bar Deadlifts

For more great exercises, all of which are very effective and safe, check out the video below.

Chapter 9: Put it Together: Create Your Own Online Softball Workout

If you’re ready to put together your own softball workout, I’d recommend the following online workout organization tools:

Softball Workout Template Apps and Software

Trello – Trello is a great drag-and-drop organizational tool that allows you to easily make lists that contain “cards.” I really like trello for lots of on-the-go type things, and it can definitely be a good solution for softball workouts.

Below is an image of Trello on the desktop (also have mobile app), showing two workouts in “list” form, with each exercise as a “card.” The background is customizable and I chose this cool photo of AT&T park. You can save videos, links, text and more in each of the cards, so it would be easy to store exercise videos for every single one.

create a strength program for college softball

Excel – Microsoft Excel is one of the most powerful, yet also most frustrating pieces of online software. Having used it for many years, I both hate it and find it useful. It’s one of the better choices for creating printable workout cards, though you may find yourself cursing at the computer.

Airtable – Airtable is like Microsoft Excel except actually well-executed and easy to use. It’s best as an online-only spreadsheet software, but it’s so much nicer than excel with lots more capability.

Assembling the Your Softball Strength Training Program

Okay, so here’s the general format you’ll want to follow:

  • 2-4 Workout days per week
  • Change workouts every month – adjust 30-50% of the sets, reps and exercises
  • WARMUP: Include a 5-10 minute warm up that focuses on movement quality – this means bodyweight versions of exercises that will be used in that day’s workouts, movement drills (like sprints, jumps, etc.), mobility drills and more.
  • WORKOUT: 40-50 minutes = 18-24 sets per workout
  • ARM CARE: 10 minutes: As a cool-down, include 2-5 arm care exercises of 2-3 sets each, depending on age and time.

If you follow this general formula above, you’ll be in great shape. Here’s what it looks like:

Example Workout

  • WARM UP (approx 10 min)
    • Bodyweight squats 2×15
    • Scap Push Ups 2×15
    • Scissor Jumps 2×20 total (10 per leg)
  • WORKOUT (40-50 min)
    • A1. Push Ups 3×12
    • A2. Goblet Squat 3×12
    • B1. Seated Row 3×15
    • B2. Medicine Ball Side Toss 3×8/8 (8 per side)
    • C1. Farmers Walks 3x40yd
    • C2. Lat Pull Down 3×12
    • C3. 1-Leg Hip Thrust 3×10/10
  • ARM CARE (10 min)
    • Prone Ls 2×15
    • A-Y-As 2×15
    • DB External Rotation 3×12

Breaking Down the Sample Softball Workout

  • WARM UP (approx 10 min)
    • [Quad-Dominant Leg Exercise] Bodyweight squats 2×15
    • [Arm Care & Core] Scap Push Ups 2×15
    • [Movement & Leg] Scissor Jumps 2×20 total (10 per leg)
  • WORKOUT (40-50 min)
    • A1. [Upper Body Pushing Exercise] Push Ups 3×12
    • A2. [Quad Dominant Leg] Goblet Squat 3×12
    • B1. [Back] Seated Row 3×15
    • B2. [Core] Medicine Ball Side Toss 3×8/8
    • C1. [Forearms & Grip] Farmers Walks 3x40yd
    • C2. [Back] Lat Pull Down 3×12
    • C3. [Posterior Chain] 1-Leg Hip Thrust 3×10/10
  • ARM CARE (10 min)
    • Prone Ls 2×15
    • A-Y-As 2×15
    • DB External Rotation 3×12

If we break down the sample workout, what we get is the following:

  • 1 Quad Dominant leg exercise
  • 1 Upper body pushing exercise
  • 2 Upper body rowing exercises
  • 1 Forearm exercise
  • 1 Core exercise
  • 1 Posterior chain exercise
  • A warm up (including an arm care exercise)
  • Three dedicated arm care exercises

This is a good, balanced workout that would cover all bases for a softball player if viewed in isolation. But, we need to remember that with 2-4 workouts per week, we don’t have to view and assess every workout by itself. For example, we could have not included any forearm exercises in this workout as long as they were included in at least two total workouts per week.

Balance? What Does a Balanced Online Softball Training Program Look Like?

By balanced, what we mean is that the ratios are about right – there’s equal or more posterior chain leg work than quad-dominant leg work. There is more rowing than pushing, and there is enough core, forearm and arm care to give a softball player a good chance at staying injury-free.

college softball workout program

We wouldn’t want lots of pushing exercises and too little rowing, because it would cause the shoulders to roll forward and the athlete to develop poor posture, which can cause arm pain and altered throwing mechanics.

We wouldn’t want more quad-dominant leg work than posterior chain work, because most athletes have relatively weak hamstrings and glutes from their sport – we want to boost up their weaknesses.

Writing a good strength and conditioning workout for softball is about knowing the right ratios of exercises to create relative balance in the athlete’s body.

Chapter 10: Free Online Softball Strength Program to Use Right Now

Don’t want to go to all the trouble to put together your own strength training workouts for softball? I don’t blame you – there’s a lot to know and it takes a lot of work to get it right. If you need motivation, check this article with quotes on softball for great inspiration from high-level players and coaches.

Need a Great

Softball Workout Plan?

Versions for all ages with a 14-Day Free Trial

free online softball workouts

This is why a fellow strength coach and I – Coach Andrew Sacks of Prime Sports Performance – created Early Work, a ready-to-go softball strength and conditioning program for individual players and teams. We took the guesswork out of strength training, so you can stick to coaching.

free online softball workouts

If you’re interested in a free trial of our online softball strength program – called Early Work Softball Training – you can start right now. We offer a 14-day free trial and you can cancel anytime if you’re not committed to stick with it. The program will help with softball batting power, throwing speed and more.

Thanks for reading, and good luck next season!

– Coach Dan Blewett

Softball Strength Training FAQ

What are good exercises for softball players?

Some of the best exercises for softball players include push ups, chin ups, romanian deadlifts, farmer’s walks, 1-arm cable rows, rotational medcine ball throws, front squats, barbell hip thrusts, prone L raises, blackburns and more. The key to creating great softball workouts is picking exercises that improve power needed during softball skills. This means building rotational power from medicine ball throws, which will improve batspeed and throwing speed. It means building strong glutes and hamstrings, which helps improve speed. Strong forearms, core, rotator cuff and a strong back are key for preventing injury and feeling strong and durable all season.

How do you get in shape for softball?

To get in great shape for softball, it’s important to combine conditioning – such as sprinting, interval runs, jump rope and other types of high-intensity cardio – with strength training. Great softball workouts have balance and aren’t just strength training. It’s important to integrated injury prevention exercises for the knees and throwing arm as well.

ten softball throwing mistakes

Get a Copy of My Free
Softball Throwing Ebook

If you need help with your throwing, this free ebook has tons of tips, videos, drills and insight for players, coaches and parents.

More Softball Articles

Share this post with your friends

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on reddit

Leave a Comment

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

Scroll to Top