Softball is a fast and explosive sport that requires players to be strong and powerful. A strong lower body is essential for long-term success in Softball. Strong, powerful legs will help you run faster, jump higher, throw harder, and hit farther.
To gain strength in the lower half, I think the best implements are barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells. These implements will engage the most musculature, train for upper body stability, and allow the legs to train for power and strength. These are movements that can be trained and overloaded over time.
I recommend these movements in the early off-season, fall ball, winter, and in-season training regimen. How heavy, how often, and what exercises you are using are determined by the game schedule and your training readiness.
In this article, I will be going over the 7 best lower body exercises for softball players to help you train the lower half to help with sprinting speed, force generation from the legs to the hips, and then rotating to hit far and throw hard!
Table of Contents
Lower Body Exercises For Softball
Trap Bar Deadlift
The Trap Bar Deadlift is by far my favorite variation of the deadlift for athletes. Because of the hexagonal shape that allows the athlete to stand inside the implement, you get to benefit from all the benefits of the deadlift with little risk.
The trap bar deadlift is a great lower body exercise for softball players because it trains the whole body, strengthens the posterior chain musculature (Glutes, hamstrings, back), and challenges your grip.
The Front Squat is one of the most important movements an athlete can master. This bilateral squat will help develop strong legs and reinforce the strong anterior core. This is also a great option for softball players because the front rack position of the barbell strengthens shoulder and upper back stability.
Dumbbell Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
It is also very important for softball players to train in single-leg movements. As athletes, we know we sprint, hit, and throw, pushing off a single leg. Therefore, we need to train and be strong on a single leg. The Dumbbell Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat is one of my favorite movements for training for strength on one leg.
By having one leg behind you and one leg out in the split squat stance, we replicate the shin angle similar to sprinting and pitching/throwing release points. Holding dumbbells will train the grip that we know is tremendously important for our forearms. This movement also reinforces abdominal strength, upper body stability, and upper body posture.
Goblet Lateral Squat
Lateral movements are also an essential consideration for softball players. We see lateral movements often in the infield and running bases. The goblet lateral squat is an awesome lower body exercise to strengthen the legs in these patterns.
Grab a kettlebell by the horns and set your feet so that you’re in a decent wide stance (wider than shoulder width but also not doing the splits. Think how wide your feet are as you’re finishing your swing). Keep your chest up, feet straight ahead, and squat laterally to one side. Think about sending your hips back and try to keep a balanced foot.
Push back to the start and alternate sides until you finish your set.
Another great single-leg movement for training all planes of motion is the 3-way lunge. We know softball is a dynamic sport that requires the athlete to be strong in all directions. This is an easy movement to master that delivers great single-leg, multi-directional benefits.
Start with the forward lunge, push back up, go right into a reverse lunge, push back up, and then finish with a lateral lunge. Cycle through the movement, completing all your reps on one leg before changing legs. This movement can be progressed by holding a kettlebell in the goblet position.
Static to Dynamic Step Up
In softball, players are often standing statically and reacting very quickly to the ball. With this in mind, the static to dynamic step up is a great movement for single power and stability.
Grab a flat bench and 2 light dumbbells (5-10 pounds). Approach the bench and bring one leg up, similar to an A-march position (Knee up, toe up, chest up, core tight). Have the foot just hovering over the bench and then drive explosively down into the bench and drive the opposite leg and knee up, holding the top position for about 1-2 seconds.
Single-Leg Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
Another very important movement for softball players is the Single-Leg Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift.
Posterior chain strength (Hamstrings, glutes, low back muscles) is critical for softball players. These muscles keep us healthy but also allow us to be explosive. Because we go from standing around statically to explosively reacting to the ball, these muscles are extremely important to train to keep us healthy and improve performance.
The single-leg Romanian deadlift helps strengthen those hamstrings. Focus on keeping strong foot tension and a big arch in the foot. With the slight bend of the knee, engage those glutes and hamstrings.
I also love this movement as it focuses on balance and stability of the down leg. This movement will keep us healthy and strong and avoid any hamstring issues.
Appropriate strength training is essential for softball players. Remember to progress appropriately, and balance your weight room training and fieldwork/competition so that you recover and get better from each session.
Utilizing the exercises I’ve listed above as part of a complete strength and conditioning program will help improve your performance on the field (hitting, throwing, sprinting) and reduce your risk of injury.