What’s the most effective conditioning technique for softball players looking to gain an edge? Dale Jones, strength and conditioning coach for the Conference USA-Champion University of Houston softball team, reveals the answer with a look at how the Cougars attack their off-season conditioning.
STACK: How do you condition your players in the off-season?
Dale Jones: We do a lot of speed work with form running. Two days a week in the fall are set for speed and two for conditioning. We work on stamina because they need that—especially pitchers and catchers—because they are involved in every single pitch. Plus, it gets pretty hot down in Texas, so they need to be able to deal with that, too.
STACK: Do you do anything extra to help pitchers and catchers?
DJ: The pitchers and catchers actually report back a week before preseason to do pretty much nothing but extra running and pitching to get their bodies ready.
STACK: What types of drills do you do with them?
DJ: One of my favorite drills, Simulated Innings. They run five-second sprints. We call each sprint a pitch. The number of pitches it takes to get out of the inning determines how many sprints they have to run. Sometimes, I’ll throw a 20-pitch inning; and if they are doing well, I’ll throw a nine-pitch inning.
STACK: What work-to-rest ratio do you use?
DJ: After I blow the whistle, they jog back to about five yards from the starting line, then walk the rest. As soon as they hit the line, they turn and run again. So their rest is the jog and walk.