Any team that's appeared in five of the last nine Women's College World Series is one of softball's elite. The University of Oklahoma's program has earned that distinction, and Sooner players are working hard—particularly by staying healthy—to hold on to it.
Softball centers around throwing and rotating, which means healthy shoulders that have full range of motion are critically important. Nancy Derrick, the Sooners' assistant S+C coach, says, "Shoulder flexibility is extremely important for softball players, because the more flexible they are, the more range of motion they will have. If you have good flexibility in that area, not only could it improve your throwing mechanics, [you will] avoid those nagging shoulder injuries."
To prep her players' shoulders before workouts and practice, Derrick has them perform the Kneeling Shoulder Stretch.
Kneeling Shoulder Stretch
• Kneel on ground
• With hands together, fully extend arms forward
• Bend at waist until hands touch ground
• Slightly push body down against ground
• Hold for 10 to 15 seconds; repeat
Benefit: This directly increases your shoulder flexibility, which increases your range of motion and decreases your chance of injury, because you'll have good throwing mechanics.
Coaching Points: Keep your back straight and head down throughout the stretch // Using your body weight, apply pressure on your arms to get a better stretch // Continue breathing throughout the stretch
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