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NCexile

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Decided this needed it's own thread; fire away!

The problem with fitness test for softball (or baseball players for that matter) is that there is almost no research supporting the relationship between most fitness measures and performance. Common sense tells us that distance running has no relationship to batting average or fielding prowess.  In fact, there's virtually no case to be made for cardiovascular fitness in softball except for pitchers and maybe catchers. Spend any weekend watching some of the best teams in country and you'll see many stars are technically obese (BMI > 30).  The whole 'training cycle" in many programs is just silly.  Players need to pass fitness tests to practice in the fall.  Through Sept/Oct and early Nov they work hard. Then fall ball ends they work less head home for the holidays and many don't workout (lets' be honest) losing much of the gains they've made in the early fall. The other down side of fitness training is the number of injuries that occur in the weight room.  Again, there's little research here but my observation suggests that more than 50% of all injuries occur during some type of conditioning as opposed to actual practice. Don't even get me started on the programs who bring in outside 'boot camp' trainers to instill toughness. I appreciate the fact that slimmer, fitter women will ultimately have better, healthier lives but they do not necessarily make better softball players.  I think many coaches fall victim to 'me to' thinking about conditioning wanting their players to 'work as hard' as the basketball or soccer athletes with little regard to whether it actually improves performance on the field.
 
CrowHop

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Casey McCrackin is proof that you don't need to be the size of a Coke machine to hit home runs.
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BigTenSoftball

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Reply with quote  #3 
I did my master's thesis on this topic.....there is plenty of research that validates proper training programs and testing protocols that enhance performance in baseball and softball.  That's not always what takes place in actual baseball/softball programs, but that doesn't take away from the validity of training and testing.
lovsofbal

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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrowHop
Casey McCrackin is proof that you don't need to be the size of a Coke machine to hit home runs.


Mauga wasn't very big. 5'2"   but oh yea she played at hillebrand is everyone's excuse. but you know what, that girl can hit it a country mile.
NCexile

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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigTenSoftball
I did my master's thesis on this topic.....there is plenty of research that validates proper training programs and testing protocols that enhance performance in baseball and softball.  That's not always what takes place in actual baseball/softball programs, but that doesn't take away from the validity of training and testing.


Agree 100%.  The key word here is 'proper'.  For me that doesn't include trying to PR on squats.  No question, all things being equal, it's better to be fit. The critical question is risk/return. Is it better to have your #1 pitcher a little less fit resulting in a  loss of 10% effectiveness or in the dugout watching as a result of a torn labrum while trying max out on the bench?

I'd love to see a list of citations of scientific papers using actual softball stats (batting average, fielding %, ERA) as the dependent variables.  I suspect it's a pretty short list.
RELAX

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Reply with quote  #6 
Personally, I think the fitness testing at the beginning of school sessions has more to do with coaches wanting the athletes to do at least something athletic during their down time. I think for some it serves as motivation to try to stay in shape over Christmas because you know you have to pass that test when you come back. I typically only hear of cardio tests, mostly running. I don't see any reason to be able to bench a certain amount in order to practice with the team. However, the stronger you are (weight lifting) the harder you hit, the harder you throw. It definitely is connected.  
DunninLA

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Reply with quote  #7 
Bunch of components to this.

First, we have to separate appearance from actual fitness.   Just watched a show on Charles Barkley.   Looked like a fat slob, but was fit as a fiddle.  Just his body type.  How about Crystal Bustos?  Slow and clumsy?  Far from it.  She was FAST, and agile.  Stacey Nuveman?  That big player from Cal about 20 years ago?

So forget about appearance.  

Fat is another issue.   Yet sumo wrestlers are strong, fast, quick (which is the most important) and agile.    So are NFL linemen, for the most part.  Some are 20% body fat, some are 40%, but none are under 15%.  Not a lot of endurance, but that isn't important in Sumo which is about as ballistic as weight lifting, and most matches last less than 15 seconds.  Could a sumo wrestler be awesome in fastpitch?  Why not?   The most endurance that is required is running for 15 seconds or less around the bases.  

So forget about fat.

What about ballistic strength?  Now THAT is relevant, for a lot of motions in softball -- jumping to catch a line drive, diving to catch a line drive or popup, throwing with velocity, swinging a bat to achieve bat speed in a fraction of a second.  But that ballistic strength should not focus on moving large amounts of weight slowly.   Neither a bat nor a ball weigh much.  It should focus on jumping with body weight, and throwing and rotating the torso quickly but with little resistance.

Ballistic strength (against low resistance) is very important.

Endurance -  Now that is very position specific, and really debatable.   Pitchers and catchers have to have a kind of stamina, but the kind that doesn't require a sustained elevated heart rate.   Every other position... not so much.  

So forget about training for a sustained elevated heart rate.

Speed -  Helpful for every position, less so for F1, F2, F3, F5.  And with current substitution rules, not essential for power hitters who can leave for a pinch runner.

Agility/Quickness/Flexibility -  Helpful for every position.

Based on that, it seems to me training should focus on ballistic strength, speed (depending on position), agility/quickness/flexibility, and whatever training is needed to avoid injuries (and that would include training that does not lead to injury!)   Training should *not target* reducing Body Mass %, increasing muscle size, increasing sustained elevated heart rate.



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BigTenSoftball

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Reply with quote  #8 
Ballistic strength, no.......

Power, yes......

Speed, yes......

Power = training to develop a muscle/muscle group's ability to contract at maximum force in minimal time 
Power can be directly improved in the weight room. There is a reason athletes, including baseball players continue to use steroids, and it is no just because of "recovery."

Speed = the distance covered divided by the time it takes to cover that distance
Speed improvement occurs thru use of proper mechanics, and improvement in POWER.
pantherdad

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NCexile
Decided this needed it's own thread; fire away!

The problem with fitness test for softball (or baseball players for that matter) is that there is almost no research supporting the relationship between most fitness measures and performance. Common sense tells us that distance running has no relationship to batting average or fielding prowess.  In fact, there's virtually no case to be made for cardiovascular fitness in softball except for pitchers and maybe catchers. Spend any weekend watching some of the best teams in country and you'll see many stars are technically obese (BMI > 30).  The whole 'training cycle" in many programs is just silly.  Players need to pass fitness tests to practice in the fall.  Through Sept/Oct and early Nov they work hard. Then fall ball ends they work less head home for the holidays and many don't workout (lets' be honest) losing much of the gains they've made in the early fall. The other down side of fitness training is the number of injuries that occur in the weight room.  Again, there's little research here but my observation suggests that more than 50% of all injuries occur during some type of conditioning as opposed to actual practice. Don't even get me started on the programs who bring in outside 'boot camp' trainers to instill toughness. I appreciate the fact that slimmer, fitter women will ultimately have better, healthier lives but they do not necessarily make better softball players.  I think many coaches fall victim to 'me to' thinking about conditioning wanting their players to 'work as hard' as the basketball or soccer athletes with little regard to whether it actually improves performance on the field.
 
pantherdad

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Reply with quote  #10 
So, you want them to just come in and play softball and not have any workout routine. I think that's bad advice. Any strength conditioning is going to benefit the player physically and mentally. As far as a fitness test it motivates the kids in the off season to at lest make an effort to keep the gaines they made while in school training.
Backstop13

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Reply with quote  #11 
FWIW, the weight room isn't just about weights...and neither are boot camps, ROTC sessions, or fitness tests necessarily.  
Prowler

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Reply with quote  #12 
Where’s the research that proves players need to practice to perform in games?
Fresh

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Reply with quote  #13 
One reason we start every practice with base running. Get 'em a little tired and winded for the rest of practice. This is how we want to see how they will perform in the late innings, late games. 
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NCexile

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pantherdad
So, you want them to just come in and play softball and not have any workout routine. I think that's bad advice. Any strength conditioning is going to benefit the player physically and mentally. As far as a fitness test it motivates the kids in the off season to at lest make an effort to keep the gaines they made while in school training.


Absolutely not! Just want scientifically sound training programs that balance rest and activity.  Another pet peeve are training programs that require kids to show up @ 6 AM.  There is tons of research showing that 18-20 year olds need a at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep to perform at peak capacity.  Getting in bed early in collegiate housing environment is virtually impossible. The idea that getting up @ 530 AM builds kids up in anyway is just stupid.  The NCAA mandates a 20 hour per week athletic commitment for student-athletes yet it's own research reports softball players (and others) spend 35 hours or more in some sport-related activity.  
RELAX

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NCexile


Absolutely not! Just want scientifically sound training programs that balance rest and activity.  Another pet peeve are training programs that require kids to show up @ 6 AM.  There is tons of research showing that 18-20 year olds need a at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep to perform at peak capacity.  Getting in bed early in collegiate housing environment is virtually impossible. The idea that getting up @ 530 AM builds kids up in anyway is just stupid.  The NCAA mandates a 20 hour per week athletic commitment for student-athletes yet it's own research reports softball players (and others) spend 35 hours or more in some sport-related activity.  


Well, then they're letting them break the rules. That 20 hours includes all practice time AND weight and conditioning time. The athletes are the ones that fill out the forms saying whether or not the team is following the 20 hour rule. Obviously, none of them want backlash from the coach if they turn them in, but they are the ones saying how much time they put in.
NCexile

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Reply with quote  #16 
For sure.  Most kids aren't going to report the 'voluntary' overtime.  The data show it's pretty much a universal practice in virtually every sport.  The least guilty are, ironically, distance running. Of course, for these sports conditioning is, in fact, the training.  You can only run so much [wink]  

One of my daughters was a D1 pitcher the other a D1 distance runner.  I would estimate the distance runner spent 50% of the time in sport-related activity my pitcher did. 
pantherdad

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Reply with quote  #17 
I would like to see some 18-20 y/o kid tell his Marine DI that.
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