Quickness Drills with Tennessee Softball

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Simply put, softball games are won in the late innings. Recognizing this, Collin Schlosser, C.S.C.S., strength and conditioning coach for University of Tennessee softball, considers keeping his athletes well conditioned his main goal. So what does conditioning have to do with quickness? Schlosser's program blends the two to create quick and fit athletes.

"I condition the team through quickness and agility work," says Tennessee's Colin Schlosser. "The key is to keep them moving the entire time. When they finish one drill, they get right into the next one."

Schlosser's conditioning-through-quickness program helps the Vols dominate in the late innings. "After the sixth or seventh inning of a double-header, they can still do the things they need to do," he says.

Being quick around the diamond is essential, according to Schlosser. "Whether putting down a sacrifice bunt to move someone around, legging out a ground ball or stealing a base, quickness can make all the difference," he says. "On the defensive side, if you are one step slow fielding a bunt or moving side-to-side, a runner can advance, and that can determine a win or loss."

Late-game quickness translated into 67 victories and a third place national ranking for the 2005 Lady Vols. Here's how they did it.

PRO AGILITY

  • Begin in position-appropriate stance
  • Turn, run five yards to the right and touch line with right hand
  • Turn, sprint 10 yards and touch line with left hand
  • Turn and sprint five yards through starting line

Starting in a position-specific stance makes the drill more applicable to the game. "Our corner—the first and third basemen—start in a really low stance. Middle infielders start 20 to 30 degrees higher, and the outfielders begin in a high stance," says Schlosser.

COACHING POINT: For all drills, run an equal number of reps in each direction.

FOUR-CONE DRILLS

BOX DRILL

  • Sprint to first cone
  • Shuffle across top of box to next cone
  • Backpedal down side of box
  • Turn and sprint through starting cone

VARIATION

  • Sprint to first cone
  • Backpedal diagonally to next cone
  • Sprint forward to next cone
  • Backpedal diagonally to starting cone

T-DRILL

  • Sprint to first cone
  • Run around top and sprint to left cone
  • Run around top and sprint 10 yards to next cone
  • Run around top and sprint five yards to middle cone
  • Run around top and sprint through starting cone

COACHING POINT: Stay tight to each cone and keep your hips low during each change of direction. Eliminate false steps. Learn how to plant and then drive effectively and efficiently.

SHUTTLES

60-YARD SHUTTLE

  • Sprint five yards and touch line
  • Turn, sprint back and touch starting line
  • Turn, sprint 10 yards and touch line
  • Turn, sprint back and touch starting line
  • Turn, sprint 15 yards and touch line
  • Turn and sprint through starting line

150-YARD SHUTTLE

  • Sprint five yards and touch line
  • Turn, sprint back and touch starting line
  • Turn, sprint 10 yards and touch line
  • Turn, sprint back and touch starting line
  • Turn, sprint 15 yards and touch line
  • Turn, sprint back and touch starting line
  • Turn, sprint 20 yards and touch line
  • Turn, sprint back and touch starting line
  • Turn, sprint 25 yards and touch line
  • Turn and sprint through starting line

Shuttles epitomize Schlosser's conditioning-through-drilling philosophy, because they force players to breakdown, quickly change direction and run back into a sprint.

COACHING POINT: To practice changing direction on both sides, touch the far line with your right foot and the starting line with your left.

THE PROGRESSION
During the first three weeks of Schlosser's program, the players run Fartleks, which are hard, but short, bursts followed by long, easy jogs. Quickness training begins in the fourth week. From the seventh through ninth weeks, he increases the intensity to coincide with the fall season. During fall ball, lifting is secondary to agility, conditioning and playing.

During the season, Schlosser moves away from agility and quickness work because the players get sport-specific quickness training on the field. They use cardio equipment and straight-ahead sprints to maintain conditioning.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock