Now is the time to start preparing for 2008

Regular readers of Life in the Fastpitch Lane probably have an impression that I’m not a big believer in conditioning. I know why people get that impression — because I will often rail about training that I (and those who know more than I) believe is improper during the season. For example, the coach who sends her charges on a five-mile run before starting practice during the season is just wasting time and actually hurting her team’s ability to perform the quick, explosive movements required in softball.

But we’re not in-season now are we? At least not in much of the country. Sure, there’s fall ball, but that’s more like a restaurant serving up some meals before the grand opening, just to see how well the kitchen works.

This is an ideal time for players to start preparing themselves for the next campaign through weight training, plyometrics, conditioning, and yes, distance running. Building a solid aerobic base provides the conditioning and longevity that helps players last through the hot and humid days of the summer season, and perform at their best through all the games in a day in the cooler weather.

Building strength, especially the right kind of strength, is important. Pitchers who are looking for a few more miles an hour, hitters who want to get the ball to go over the fence instead of to it, catchers who want to cut time off their throws to second, baserunners who want to shave a little time off their first to second runs, and players at every other position can benefit through an intelligent, sport-specific conditioning program.

There are all kinds of places to obtain an intelligent workout program. Believe it or not, the local HS football or wrestling coach are a couple of good options. They’re used to developing weight training programs that combine endurance with explosive strength. Wrestlers in particular are less concerned with muscle bulk than they are with being solid and surprisingly strong, so the wrestling coach is a good option. Besides, after working with smelly, surly boys all the time he’d probably get a kick out of helping a female athlete for a change. Just watch out, because he’ll probably try to recruit you to keep stats for the wrestling team in return.

However you go about it, the important thing is to get off the couch and start working now to get ready. I know 2008 seems like a long ways away, but quality change in conditioning, just like all your other skills, doesn’t happen overnight. Get moving now and you might even amaze yourself.

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