Here, Collin Schlosser, associate head strength and conditioning coach at the University of Tennessee, explains the test he uses to measure the Lady Vols softball players’ flexibility and provides a few points about improving yours.
1. Our main indicator of full-body flexibility is the result of the Sit-and-Reach Test:
• Sit on ground, legs extended forward with feet two to three inches apart and soles pressed against box
• Drop head, exhale and reach forward to box
• Have partner measure distance, to nearest half inch, between your hands and feet
• Perform three two-second hold reps
Perform the Sit-and-Reach without shoes, and make sure to keep your knees flat. Warm up before you test.
2. Some athletes’ hamstring and lower back flexibility is so bad that they’re six inches away from being able to touch their toes for the Sit-and-Reach Test. If we can get them to touch their toes by the end of their time here, we’ve been successful.
3. Training flexibility is similar to lifting weights to get stronger in that it’s a progression over time to improve your range of motion.
4. To build this flexibility over time, we incorporate a flexibility component in every one of our workouts, whether it’s strength training, conditioning or speed and agility. No matter the season, everything starts with a dynamic flexibility series. We make these movements specific to softball, so we perform about 10 variations of Lunges—including Front, Back, Side and Side Lunge to Squat. In the weight room, we incorporate a variety of hurdle movements, including front-and-back, side-to-side and over-and-under. All of this work prepares their bodies to go through the full range of motion for each exercise or movement that follows.
5. Flexibility is just another piece of the puzzle for our overall training protocol. The number-one reason we do it is to minimize the risk of injury.