How to avoid injuries playing softball
Even though softball seems like a relatively safe sport, there are still plenty of opportunities to become injured. The likelihood of head injuries is quite low, but knees, arms, and other body parts are susceptible. Of course, no one knows when an injury will occur, but being aware of the fact that they can occur is key to prevention. So what are the best ways for you as a player to avoid injuries playing softball? Let’s find out!
What's Included on this page:
Stretching and Off-Season Preparation
One of the best ways to prevent injuries is to stretch out before and after playing. Overuse injuries are extremely common in softball because it is such a “one-sided” game. Players throw with the same arm, bat from the same side, slide on the same leg, and lead-off from the bases with the same foot. Stretching is often neglected, especially by younger players, but it can certainly help more than it can hurt.
Along with stretching before and after playing and practicing, offseason work is important. Most coaches will suggest that their players take part in other types of sports because their players will get work on their other sides. If players choose not to participate in another sport, they should at least work out on a regular basis. Lifting weights, riding a bike, or taking yoga classes is beneficial to the entire body and will help balance it out from the lopsided training that occurs for softball season.
Protective Gear Makes a Big Difference
When it comes to gameplay, there are also several precautions that softball players should take. Of course, wearing protective gear is vital and the gear should be top quality. For some strange reason, some players get hit by pitches more than others. So, players who have been hit several times on the helmet with pitches should consider replacing the helmet. There is no magic number, but each hit will subtly weaken the helmet. For catchers, the obvious choice is some well protective softball catchers gear.
Another important safety consideration is for pitchers, especially in the world of fastpitch softball. Since pitchers are so close to the plate and the balls come so quickly off of the bats, every fastpitch pitcher should wear a protective face mask. It does not take long to get used to the feeling of wearing one and wearing one does not make players weak. They are there for protection, not as a crutch for players. A fastball hit off of a fast bat can do serious damage to the face and the brain. A facemask can be the difference between permanent brain damage and a little bruising.
In fact, there is nothing wrong with the corner infielders wearing face masks, too. Softball base paths are shorter than baseball base paths. Head injuries can be deadly and no one wants their favorite softball players to be severely injured when it is easy to put on a face mask prior to taking the base.
There have been studies done recently that connect mouthguards to concussions. Researchers have found the mouthguards do offer some protection against concussions. The protection is minimal, but they do seem to protect the head and neck as they absorb some of the shock from the head injury. Of course, they are not a replacement of helmets and face masks, but they can be a good addition to the proven tools.
Pay Attention When the Game is Happening
This might seem like an obvious way to avoid an injury, but it is worth repeating. Every player on field, in the batter’s box, and in the dugout should pay attention to every single pitch. No one knows when a ball will be hit and where that ball will go. Injuries can happen in the dugout, just as easily as they can happen on the field. When players are perched with their arms, legs, and faces unprotected by fences and nets, there are chances for accidents. Looking away at the wrong time could be very painful. The same goes for spectators, too. Especially those who like to hangout over the fences.
Learn the Fundamentals
Another way to avoid injuries is to learn to catch the ball properly and understanding the fundamentals of game play. Coaches, especially those who work with young players, should be sure that their players know how to hold their gloves when going after pop-ups and catching line drives. Too many children have taken balls to their faces by holding the glove in an upwards angle, forcing the ball out of the glove and into the face.
Another important fundamental for players to learn is to always watch for swinging bats. A batter cannot see who is behind her, so she could swing and easily hit someone. It is up to each player to be completely aware of her surroundings. Coaches should enforce the rule that no one swings a bat in the dugout and during a game, players only swing in the on-deck circle.
A little common sense makes a big difference when it comes to preventing injuries while playing softball.