The 2016-2017 Network Training season was our best yet and only looks to get better this year. All of our teams did a phenomenal job showing up and putting in the work to make themselves and their teammates better. Our goal as a coaching staff is to improve their performance on the field but also prepare them to live healthy lifestyles when their playing does are done.
This past year one team in particular stood out. This was not because of their athletic ability or strength but because of the work ethic and commitment they had to get better. The team’s culture was motivating and inspiring to work with. They always had smiles on their faces and were very coachable. The coaches and players kept each other accountable to work hard and do the little things when they weren’t with us. That team was our 14U Futures Softball team led by Coach Kelsey Washam. Coach Kelsey and her staff created a team dynamic that was supportive and challenged her team to not only become better softball players but better people.
I recently asked Coach Kelsey and one of her players from the team about their experience with our strength and conditioning program and how it affected them over the course of the season.
First I sat down with Coach Kelsey to talk to her about the impact strength and conditioning had on her team.
“The biggest benefit I found this year was our team had little to no injuries all year. We have several athletes that play multiple sports and train year round in addition to our busy travel schedule…we experienced zero major injuries that prevented any of the players from sitting out multiple games”.
What kind of differences did you notice in your athletes from the time they started strength and conditioning to when they finished?
“The biggest differences I noticed from the start and end (of strength and conditioning) were improvements in endurance, reaction time and coordination. Overall the team was able to play several innings in one day in the heat with little to no soreness or fatigue. I also noticed their reaction time when fielding or running decreased over the course of the year. In general, I noticed a big improvement in overall body coordination on and off the field”.
How did your athletes’ conditioning hold up during long tournaments?
“I attribute our ability to stay healthy all season to the work the team put in during the season and off-season with strength and conditioning. More than half of my players took advantage of extra training sessions offered by our Network performance coaches during the off-season to supplement our regular team Network training. In addition, many of our girls took advantage of the non – network performance offerings provided by CrossFit Collinsville. The consistent commitment to strength and conditioning by our team was huge for overall team health”.
What would you say to the younger teams who are starting strength and conditioning training for the first time this year?
“I constantly tell young athletes that I wish I would have started strength and conditioning at a younger age. I didn’t really get into it until I started playing softball in college and at that point it was a catch up phase. Take advantage of the opportunities you have now and always find a way to implement strength & conditioning into your skills training. Swinging a bat 100-200 times a day will help your muscle memory but you won’t be able to hit the ball over the fence unless you get stronger-that’s not going to happen in the cages”.