Stretching before a softball game or practice is important for players at all levels. Muscles in the body need to loosen up before engaging in serious activity in order to perform their best and prevent injuries. Softball players use upper-body muscles such as the triceps and biceps, along with lower-body muscles including the quadriceps, hamstrings and hip flexors. Dynamic stretches that involve smoothly stretching muscles while they are moving reduces stress on muscles and lessens the risk of injury.
Adding a twist to a traditional lunge stretches hamstrings, calves and oblique muscles. While standing, place one foot in front of the other and lunge until your front knee is just behind your front ankle to stretch your hamstring. Step with your back foot to meet the front foot and stand on your toes to stretch the calf muscles. Twisting your torso to make your shoulders in line with your legs during each lunge stretches the oblique muscles. The quadriceps can be stretched by standing on one leg and grabbing the opposite foot from behind to pull it toward your rear.
Arm swings loosen up the muscles used for throwing, particularly for pitchers who use a “windmill” motion in fast-pitch softball. To perform arm swings, place both arms to your sides and slowly swing them across your body for 30 seconds. Pulling your arm across your body and then gently grabbing and pulling the elbow with your opposite hand will stretch the shoulder muscles. Bending your arm over your head and reaching back will stretch your triceps.
Back and Core Muscles
Stretching your trunk and back will prepare you for the twisting and turning that takes place in softball hitting and fielding. Loosen your trunk by lying on your back and bending a knee toward your chest and then turning this leg across your body until you feel the muscles stretching. Perform the stretch for the opposite leg to stretch the other side. A full back stretch can be achieved by repeatedly lying on your back, bringing your knees to your chest and then rolling to a seated position and back to the floor.
It is important to bring your heart rate up before performing any stretching. Accomplish this with a brisk five-minute run before doing any stretching. You will also want to run after your practice is complete to give your body and muscles a chance to cool down and go from being used to resting. After performing a stretching routine, you can perform actions that you will do during a game to complete your warm-up. These actions can include softly tossing a ball with a partner or sprinting down the first-base line.
- Softball: Steps to Success; Diane L. Potter and Lynn V. Johnson
Richard Manfredi has more than a decade of professional writing experience, both in the media and at a corporate level. Since 2003, he has worked in the public relations industry, creating and executing campaigns for technology and entertainment companies. Manfredi is also a journalist who has worked for the "Orange County Register," as well as several online publications.