Stair Routine with Cal Softball

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Quick feet, explosive legs and a bit of conditioning are just three of the many benefits that result from Scott O'Dell's stadium stair routine. 

"We can do so many things on the stadium stairs," says O'Dell, Cal's assistant strength and conditioning coach.

"We can work on our lateral resistance, on minimizing foot contact time, and we can also do resistance sprints and plyometric work."

According to O'Dell, many people think working on concrete stairs is high impact. "But we see it as low impact work," he says, "because the stairs catch you in the air. You don't have the impact of landing hard on the ground."

The Cal softball team, along with the men's football and women's lacrosse and field hockey teams, perform stadium stair workouts for four to six weeks at the start of training. "Stadium stairs keep the monotony out of our program; it's something our athletes enjoy doing," O'Dell says.

The routine has five parts: the warm-up, quick footwork, lateral resistance, plyo work and conditioning.

Warm-up Stairs Reps Rest
One step each stair 40 2 Walk down
One step every other stair 40 2 Walk down

Coaching Points: Keep your toes up to minimize foot contact with the ground. Also, keep your arms bent at 90 degrees and drive your hands from cheek to back pocket with a good arm drive.

Quick Footwork Stairs Reps Rest
Two steps each stair 14 2 leading w/each foot Walk down
Four steps each stair 8 2 leading w/each foot Walk down

Coaching Points: You want to get a little bit of conditioning from these drills, but still give yourself enough rest time to feel fresh for each rep. This works quickness, so don't drag your feet on the ground.

Lateral Resistance Stairs Reps Rest
Carioca 40 2 per direction faced Walk down
Shuffle 12 2 per direction faced Walk down

Coaching Points: Each carioca step is a step up with a hip rotation. Take only one step for each stair and go as fast as possible. As you shuffle up the stairs, leave one stair between your feet.

Plyo Work Stairs Reps Rest
Double leg, one-stair hop 10 2 Walk down
Double leg, two-stair hop 20 2 Walk down
Double leg, three-stair hop 40 1 Walk down
Double leg, four-stair hop 40 1 Walk down

Coaching Points: Keep your heel off the ground to minimize ground contact time and maximize the plyos' effectiveness. Drive your arms ahead of you as you jump; this keeps your chest up and helps you maintain good posture, which allows for better force production in your arms and legs. Go as quickly as possible for the one- and two-stair hops. Depending on your ability, you may have to slow things down for the three- and four-stair hops to reset between hops.

Conditioning Stairs Reps Rest
Sprint 40 2-5 reps Walk down

Coaching Points: Do this at the end purely for conditioning work. Sprint up the stairs as fast as possible. Try racing another player to see who can sprint faster. Start with only two sprints and work up to five over time.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: STRENGTH TRAINING | SOFTBALL | SOFTBALL WORKOUTS | COACH | SPRINT | SHUFFLE | STAIRS