15 Sep Staying powerful over 40: Softball
It’s been estimated that more than 1.5 million people age 40 or older in the U.S. play softball. Not surprisingly, more adult athletes also injure themselves playing softball than in any other sport.
Whether it’s the majority of those ballplayers in the slowpitch game, or some who still particpate in fastpitch leagues, it takes work off the field as well as on it to maintain a competitive advantage.
Softball is often stereotyped as fat guys trying to hit home runs and then drinking beers after the game. It’s OK to enjoy a beverage or two after the game, but with less work than you’d think in the weight room you can avoid being one of those players with Dunlop Disease — “belly dun-lopped over their jeans.”
The most important thing for a softball player 40 or older to do is maintain good flexibility, especially in the legs. Once your legs go, you’re not going to be able to do a whole lot to help the team. Here are some pointers to keep playing the game for a long, long time if that’s what you desire:
This is the best time to actually try to add muscle, strength and endurance. A good way to improve your endurance is by running on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike.
To add upper body strength, bench press, triceps extensions, biceps curls and shoulder presses are excellent lifts. Do ab work and side bends to strengthen the core and lat pulldowns for the back.
For legs, squats, leg extensions, leg curls and even dead lifts can build a strong base. Also, I’ve found swinging a heavy bat is a good way to strengthen specific muscles involved in ripping the ball. When it’s time to go out for your first practice, you’ll notice increased bat speed.
For throwing, it’s beneficial to toss a heavy ball. Just make sure to start easy and stretch your rotator cuff beforehand.
DURING THE SEASON
During the season, your games will take up more time from a busy schedule and you’ll probably be sorer then the offseason. Back off from the offseason program with a workout routine that omits a few exercises, or maybe just go three-four times a week instead of fix or six to maintain your fitness level.
Here’s another tip that’s kind of obvious, but many players probably haven’t thought of: If you’re on a team that plays weekend tournaments, when you can play five, six or even more games in a weekend, keep a lighter bat in your bag for later in the tourney. If you swing a 28 ounce bat, have a 27 ounce stick you can pull out later in the tourney when even the strongest player’s bat speed will slow down some.
In the old days they used to say ballplayers shouldn’t lift weights. A stringbean of a high schooler used to live near me and his dad said, “Lifting weights will put a crimp in Billy’s swing.” That couldn’t be further form the truth. With proper stretching and lifting, you can really add to your rec-league or tournament team.