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”.
Great perspective provided by Coach Washam on the impact strength and conditioning had on her team and their success this past season. Coach Washam’s strong belief in strength and conditioning trickled down to her players who fell in love with training and getting better. I wanted to get some perspective from one of the players who participated in the team workouts and even jumped on every opportunity to get in extra work. That was Kandra Butcher aka “KB” who pitched and played first base for Coach Washam. Here is what Kandra had to say about our Network Strength and Conditioning program.
“One thing I enjoyed most about the strength and conditioning training with my team was the support and motivation we were able to show each other”.
In what areas did you notice a difference in your performance during games and tournaments?
“Because of strength and conditioning, I have improved my quickness when running. In the tournaments that we have to play 4-5 games in a day, I haven’t gotten as tired and still had energy left”.
Did you remain healthy or injury free during the season? Have you ever had a previous history of injuries playing softball?
“All though I have a history of softball injuries in the past I have remained injury free this past season”.
What was your favorite exercise or drill you did in velocity training?
“If I had to pick, my favorite drill or exercise I did in strength and conditioning was probably rowing. I also really enjoyed the games we played in our training sessions, such as musical med balls”.
What advice would you give to younger athletes who are just starting strength and conditioning?
“My advice for the younger athletes just now beginning strength and conditioning is to push yourself, give it your all, and put the work in at home. It won’t happen immediately, but trust me when I say the results will show”.
It was great to hear from one of our Extreme athletes about her experience in our Network Strength and Conditioning program. As a coaching staff it’s so exciting to see coaches, athletes and families bought in to the importance of strength and conditioning. The commitment to strength and conditioning for our athletes is making a large impact on and off the field.
The Extreme Network Strength and Conditioning Staff can’t wait to get this year’s Network Training season started and help our athletes be better than they were last year!
Coach Chris Thomas