Read on for some great drills that will help your team become even stronger softball players.
Turning Speed Off and On
Here we want to shock the system into accepting speed when we turn it on. Turn it on, turn it off.
Start with a jog, then go into quick feet. You really want to practice turning that speed on and off; we want the body to respond to the brain.
Force the speed out of your system. Pull the toes up and bounce off the ground.
Down and back is one repetition–do three sets of three repetitions.
Skipping for Quick Feet
Going skipping changes the rhythm and forces quicker action at the ground. We’ve got to really focus on stepping down as we skip.
This’ll challenge your speed and quickness system. If you master this, you’re going to have quicker feet.
Down and back is one repetition–do three sets of three repetitions, trying to get at least three changes of speed each time you do the drill.
Explosive Running with Ball Drops
You’ll need a partner and a ball to do this drill. Very simply, the person doing the explosive running is trying to get to the ball before it bounces twice. You’ll need to adjust your distance according to your athlete’s skill and ability.
Don’t make it too easy, don’t make it too difficult. We don’t want to have a false step. We want everything to be positive, going forward. Don’t take that negative or backward step. Jump and explode into a full sprint.
Now start from a lateral position and do crossovers. You want to maintain a good balanced position. When the ball drops, cross over, explode into a sprint, and catch the ball before it bounces twice. Make sure you work each direction to balance up your skill and ability.
Now go backward. We’re going to open up the hips, take a drop step, and go get the ball. This drill works off a verbal command. The partner with the ball says “ball” and drops it at the same time. Our athlete has to pivot and open the hip as they go backward.
We want to do sets of three to five each direction. Do forward ball drops, crossovers each direction, and backward.
Linear and Lateral Skips with a Change of Direction
We’re going to use a five-yard distance and start skipping straight-ahead and backward. First, have your players skip straight ahead, pulling the knee up, the heel up, and the toe up.
At five yards, push and come backwards. When they step on the line, they should break forward. It’s important for them to focus on pushing away from the direction they want to go. The skipping rhythm forces athletes to step down to the ground.
Now go lateral. Start by skipping in place so you get the skipping rhythm, then simply push away from the direction you want to go.
The knees come up in front of the body, and the toes go up toward the shin so we’re in a power position to step down and push away. Your core should stay solid–suck in the belly button, tuck in the back.
Now do the same drill, skipping with a change of direction, except the coach should tell the players when to change direction.
Plyometrics: Box Drills
With the box drop exercise, we start standing on the box, then we drop down and respond to the ground, and then we jump back up. It’s not up down; it’s down up.
Keep the toes pulled up toward the shins so we respond by quickly pushing off the ground. Our ankle is cocked and loaded.We have good control of the core of our body as we bounce off the ground rapidly.
Next is box runs. Here we’re simply going to stand on the ground and put one foot up on the box. Then we’re going to switch and have the opposite foot touching the top of the box. It’s a quick response to the ground. Keep the toe pulled up toward the shin so the ankle is cocked and loaded and can quickly respond to the ground, and match the arm action to the running motion. Count your right leg 10 times, and do three sets of 10.
Next is side to sides. These are great for lateral movement and cutting. Your player will stand on the top of the box and have one foot touching the ground. She’ll wan to focus on keeping the core stable and the chest up. She should suck and tuck the belly button and back. While focusing on all of this, she’ll quickly use a jumping motion to switch from side to side, going from having one foot on the box and the other on the ground and then switching feet, all the while moving laterally.
Now go to multiple boxes, where there are several boxes set up in a line. We’re going to go ahead and jump on the first box, then on the ground between the first and second boxes, then onto the second box, and so on. This is more like a pogo stick type jump. We just quickly respond to the ground, keeping the hips tall, the legs almost straight. We want the ankles and knees to be quick to respond to the ground. Use the arms and bounce, and pull the toes up toward the shins.
For greater difficulty, we can go to one foot hops. Do five times through with your right and then five times through with your left.
This next exercise is the drop and sprint. Here we’re going to use a 12″ box. We’re simply going to drop off the box with both feet, land, and explode into a sprint. This is a simple five-yard drill that’s great drill for that stretch reflex of explosive acceleration.
Do you think your girls softball team will get that explosiveness quickness they’re looking for after doing these drills? Why or why not? Sound off in the comments section below!