Softball: Game Speed Training with Medicine Ball Throws
March 21, 2013 | Michelle Diltz
Develop your explosive force through contact while hitting and running and at the release point of throwing and pitching.
Softball is a power sport, and players need to be able to exert max strength and recruit as many muscle fibers as possible as quickly possible. Speed-strength is used in every aspect of the game—defense, throwing, batting, base running and pitching.
Med ball throws allow softball athletes to move with speed and force similar to what they encounter in game situations. Players can greatly benefit from using med ball throws in their training, as part of a monitored strength and conditioning program that promotes continued growth and improvement in the sport.
The best way to increase speed-strength is through plyometric training. Plyometrics develop strength and power by teaching the body how to use gravity to store energy in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, like stretching a rubber band and then releasing it in the opposite direction.
Med balls are among the best plyometric tools a softball athlete can use in her training. They are great for athletes of all ages and levels, from inexperienced lifters to professionals. Med balls can be thrown, lifted, bounced and caught off walls, slammed into the ground or held. Each exercise has many variations. But the best med ball exercise—the one I use most often when training my University of Alabama softball athletes—is med ball throws.
Why use medicine ball throws?
Med ball throws should be a prominent part of all softball training programs, because they specifically focus on full body coordination and balance during the power transfer from the ground up through the core to the bat or ball. Triple extension, which is taught by using med ball throws, will help athletes transition from the weight room to the field successfully.
5 softball movements that med balls help transition to the field
The use of med ball throws teaches pitchers how to transfer force generated through the drive leg, leading to an increase in the speed and strength of the pitching arm and delivering an explosive force through the release. The triple extension emphasized in med ball throws trains body awareness, coordination, weight shift, and posture to ensure a strong core to transfer the power and control the ball. Example of a med ball throw used to enhance pitching: Single-Leg Front Diagonal Throws.
Med ball throws improve a player's posture and footwork. The load and counter movement used in med ball throws help with the fielding stance and with cutting and reacting to hit balls with more force into the ground. Example of a med ball throw used to enhance fielding posture and transfer of power during cutting: Hammer Med Ball Throws.
The transition from fielding to throwing and throwing arm speed are also enhanced by med balls throws, training an athlete's weight shift, posture, balance and coordination, and facilitating force transfer from the loaded fielding position to the release of the ball. Power in the arm during throwing is enhanced using the whip-like action created by the load and unload of med ball throws. Examples of med ball throws used to increase arm speed-strength and full-body force transfer from fielding to throwing: Squat to Push Press and Med Ball Slams.
The first explosive step and drive off the base is the most important aspect of base running, both for getting out of the batter's box and for stealing. Med ball throws work on increasing the coordination, posture and force transition of the athlete's triple extension, enhancing the first step and acceleration on the base paths. Example of a med ball throw used to increase drive off the base: Med Ball Granny Throws.
Hitting is the most explosive and fun part of the game to watch. Med ball throws really enhance the performance of batting, bunting and slapping by increasing bat speed, bat control and full body power through contact. Softball athletes improve their rotational coordination, balance, weight shift, posture and power transfer, from the feet all the way through to bat contact. Example of a med ball throw used increase rotational force f0r batting: Med Ball Side Throws in Batting Stance.