I will admit: I have done very little agility training or speed-specific drills in my softball practices. If I had an unlimited amount of time (instead of the 4 hours or so that I get each week), I’d consider doing them. We do spend a considerable amount of time on base running technique, particularly rounding bases tightly and good rocker lead offs, but otherwise there is so much other stuff to teach a player to become a good softball player. Taking valuable practice time to run agility drills has not seemed very effective. Now, I’m not so sure. After all, Softball is a game of speed. A player who can accelerate faster or change directions quicker is not only a better base runner, but can also get to the ball better as a defender.
One of my daughters has been participating in a Softball-specific agility course over the summer taught by one of our High School’s softball coaches. Before the class, my daughter had above-average speed. Now, after a few sessions, she has gotten visibly quicker. The course instructor took a baseline of the participants’ speed over a 20 yard dash at the beginning of the course, and I am very interested to see what the improvement is for all the players at the end of the course. It could be that Agility training becomes a “must” as part of softball practice.
Thinking further, some of the best softball players I’ve had over the years had basketball or soccer backgrounds – sports both known for including agility and footwork drills regularly within their practices, and where speed and quickness are some of the most important skills a player can have. In this light it therefore seems that including agility training within a softball practice makes sense. The question then becomes, “How?”
From what I gather doing a quick Internet search on “Softball Agility”, agility drills should be conducted a couple of times a week. Some softball coaches include a little bit of agility work within their batting stations. Agility drills should include a lot of explosive movement, since almost all softball plays require that kind of motion. Finally, agility training is mostly ignored by softball coaches (the best page I found was What is Specific to Softball).
Looks like I need to do some more research, including an interview with the High School coach running my daughter’s class. Consider this article an introduction to my “Agility in Softball” series!