In softball, consistently getting runners out when they try to steal bases requires speed, agility and power. You've got to be able to quickly transition from a catching to a throwing position, or you may miss the mark.
These five softball catcher drills are designed to increase throwing power and lower pop time—the time it takes to transition from your catching position to a two-foot platform to throw the runner out. They also increase power from a single-leg kneeling position, when the catcher goes from the catching position to kneeling on one leg to throw the ball.
To build off-season strength, add this program to your routine two to three days a week. To maintain during season, keep at it one or two days a week (games and travel allowing). View the above video to see how to perform each exercise.
1. Goblet Squat
This is a great drill to build leg strength and develop proper core alignment.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Hold a kettlebell with a hand on each of its horns. If you're using a dumbbell, hold it in a vertical position with both hands under the top plate.
- Imagine holding a goblet with two hands. Flex your arms so your elbows point out and the weight is against the center of your chest.
- Perform a Squat as you would with a barbell. Your weight should be over your heels and your lower back should be straight. Don't lean forward from your hips.
- Squat until your hips are below parallel or as close as you can get. Try to squat lower at every workout.
- In the bottom position, your elbows should be inside your thighs, pointing slightly down and toward the ground.
- Pushing with your heels, return to a standing position.
Sets/Reps: 4x5-8 explosive reps. Increase weight when you're able, but not at the expense of form or movement speed.
2. Rotational Med Ball Throw
Once you're on your feet, you need rotational power to develop arm speed so you can make a hard throw to the base where the runner is heading. This drill works great when you use a block wall as a rebounder.
- Begin in a shoulder-width stance with your feet in a heel-to-toe alignment.
- Hold a medicine ball approximately at navel level (right and top left).
- Rotate your trunk, shoulders, arms and head to one side as far as possible and immediately twist back in the opposite direction to throw the ball.
- Focus on rotating your feet, hips and shoulders first and finishing with your upper body.
Sets/Reps: 3x6-10, focusing on rotational speed, not heavy weight
3. Kneeling Rotational Chop
This exercise trains the body to handle rotational forces. Throwing with power while kneeling requires the ability to stabilize against rotational forces.
- Clip a rope attachment to the highest level of a cable machine.
- Kneel with the knee of your working side (facing the weight stack) bent 90 degrees.
- Grab the rope with an overhand grip with your hands shoulder-width apart.
- Angle your shoulders toward the rope with your torso facing forward.
- Keeping your arms straight, brace your core, squeeze your hips and use your torso to pull the rope down and across your body, past the opposite hip.
- Return to the starting position.
Sets/Reps: 3x8-12 slow controlled reps on each side
4. Kneeling Throws
Kneeling Throws require specific upper-body strength and build upper-body throwing power. Ball speed is more important than ball weight.
- Kneel with your knees shoulder-width apart and your torso 1 to 2 feet away from and facing a wall.
- Take the ball behind your head and immediately throw the ball into wall. Catch the ball and immediately repeat.
5. Dumbbell Pullover
This one is good for developing stable shoulders and a strong rib cage. Keep the weight light.
- Lie on your upper back perpendicular to a bench.
- Flex your hips slightly.
- Grasp a dumbbell with both hands under the inner plate and position it over your chest with your elbows slightly bent.
- Keeping your elbows slightly bent, lower the dumbbell over and beyond your head until your upper arms align with your torso.
- Pull the dumbbell up and over your chest.
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