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#AnythingButSoft: There's Still Time to Prepare for Day One

We believe that softball is more than a sport - it makes players #AnythingButSoft on and off the field. This season, we'll be sharing tips and insights from leading coaches, nutritionists, and parents alike and talking about how softball makes athletes #AnythingButSoft.

Softball tryouts are starting this month at many high schools, and while it might seem like there isn’t much time left to be ready for Day One, there are still many things players can do in the final days before the season begins.

Andy Neal, the softball coach at Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke, Va., said the most important thing a player should focus on before the season begins is conditioning. Even if a player hasn’t played or practiced since the last season ended, it’s important to be able to run once the new season rolls around.

“Once the season is over, if they’re not playing travel we try to put them on a conditioning program,” Neal said. “They think you don’t have to be conditioned because you’re not doing a lot of running. A lot of girls don’t understand and say, ‘Why are we doing all this running?’ But in a game you actually do a lot more running than you realize.”

Neal said he has open gyms for his players in the fall and early spring, but even those who are unable to come to the open gyms are told to make sure they’re keeping up with a running program throughout the winter. Even those who haven’t been running in the months leading up to the season can begin in the final days, he said.

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In addition to conditioning, Neal said strength workouts are also important. Core workouts, upper body, and leg strengthening are all key to be ready for Day One. He said that the stronger a player is at the beginning of the season, the better prepared they’ll be for the grind of everyday games and practices.

Another one of the toughest things for players on Day One of practice is having their timing right in the batter’s box. Neal said getting quality reps in the batting cage is vitally important to make sure a player’s timing comes back quickly.

“Just getting in cage, knocking the rust off,” he said. “Because if they’re not playing all the time you lose timing as far as hitting and stuff goes. If you’re not going to the cage and seeing live pitching, it takes a long time to get timing right again.

Even though softball is a spring sport, with the season beginning as early as the end of February for some schools, it’s not always springtime weather during early season games. Neal said he runs into the issue every year where it seems too cold to practice outside during the first couple of weeks.

But, while there are some things Neal said you can’t do out in lower temperatures, he said it’s actually important to at least try.

“The early games are cold, so we try to get outside as much as we can to try to get them out and used to cold,” he said.

Even if a player feels as if she's not ready for the season, Neal said just sticking to the basics will actually go a long way in final preparations.

“Timing, conditioning and getting your mindset right to get into the season again,” he said.

From GameChanger and Cara Cooper. 

Softball, #AnythingButSoft, Softball Player Development, Softball Tips & Drills

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