Softball demands a combination of physical ability and technical execution. Sometimes, getting better is just a matter of practicing to perfect a technique. Other times, you practice and practice but it doesn’t seem to make a difference.
When practice and coaching aren't enough to fix a technique, what can you do?
The answer: there's likely a physical limitation at the root of the technique issue. Something in your movement chain is preventing you from moving the way you want to.
In this post, we'll explore the difference between technique limitations and physical limitations. Looking for a breakthrough? This info could be what you need to level up.
Technique, whether it's swing mechanics, fielding, or virtually anything else you do on a softball field, it can be worked on individually or with a coach to make you a better player.
But sometimes there's a technique that you can't seem to get right no matter how much work you put in. Other people around you can do it just fine but for some reason you struggle.
Here's some good news: this is fixable.
How? By focusing on the right thing.
In the athletes we work with, 9 times out of 10 these technique challenges are due to a physical limitation.
Physical limitations always cause technique limitations. We see this all the time in everyday life:
• Lifting something onto a high shelf is difficult when you have limited overhead motion
• With tight hamstrings it's tough to tie your shoes standing up (not to mention deadlift)
• A softball athlete with a tight back will have limited power in her swing and/or back pain.
These examples are all about stiffness, but physical limitations can also be due to muscle weakness or muscle laxity (the opposite of stiffness).
The muscle weakness example we know: someone tries to lift something too heavy and hurts their back. This happens in other areas of the body with less severity but causes those chronic aches and pains.
In the case of laxity, an athlete is too flexible to know her end range and has inadequate strength through that range.
Note: laxity is more common in female athletes than stiffness. This is important because stretching a muscle that is already long enough makes laxity worse.
Put simply, a physical limitation just means there's muscle weakness or a mobility limitation that's holding you back from moving the way you want to move. No matter how hard you practice you won't be able to fix a technique problem that's actually a physical limitation.
These physical limitations develop from lifestyle and habits over time. Unless we are aware of them and actively reverse them, they continue to progress. Some physical limitations develop from playing softball.
The first step in fixing physical limitations is finding the problem.
A great way to figure out if you have a physical limitation is by taking our Softball Movement Screen. This short video guides you through a series of movements that give you a clear picture of your movement profile. It also provides clear first steps to start addressing any limitations that you find.
We regularly see breakthroughs in on-the-field performance when athletes begin to fix their physical limitations. Techniques that were difficult for them suddenly "unlock" to the surprise of coaches and parents.
Some physical limitations can be challenging to untangle on your own, but the Movement Screen is where we start even with athletes we work with in person. Start there and if you need more help please reach out.
Until next time,