Establishing a Player’s Capacity for Softball Skills

Our Threshold Assessment was developed specifically for softball athletes to effectively identify a player’s performance potential and build a physical training and development plan uniquely tailored to her.

The first step is to perform a health history review. We have adopted and modified the Pre-Participation Exam from our state high school association. Any previous musculoskeletal injury history is important for us to understand to be able to write an effective performance plan to mitigate their risk of re-injury. Face-to-face review of the player’s responses also allows an opportunity to review menstrual history and identify signs of Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S).

Next, we perform our range of motion and mobility evaluation. Our first stop is passive range of motion which means we evaluate how far the player can move through hip and shoulder rotation by moving her leg/arm for her. From there, we assess active mobility. We focus on hip/leg interaction, scapular movement, thoracic rotation, ankle dorsiflexion and hamstrings. Evaluating both passive and active mobility gives us a clear picture of her body’s capabilities for movement and potential impact to her training potential and exercise prescription.

Once we have evaluated the player’s mobility, we evaluate movement and strength. This part of the process identifies how the player performs on tasks critical for optimal performance: pelvic control, chest-pelvis dissociation, and ground force transfer. It is progressive, establishing the athlete’s ability to perform under stable and low velocity conditions to inform both strength and skills coaches if the athlete possesses movement competency for high velocity, sport-specific skills and verbal instruction cues. It is not a measure of athleticism or absolute strength.  

We finish up our process with a biomechanical assessment of the player’s softball skills (hitting, pitching, overhand throwing), which includes use of body, shoe, and bat sensors, Rapsodo, and high-speed video. 

From the athlete’s results on our Threshold Assessment, we place her in a Training Level and develop a Performance Plan. This system provides a framework and direction for the athlete and her parents; how much to train, what to train, and what drills to add to compliment her developing movement patterns. The levels ensure our athletes’ training regimen gives them the tools to achieve their full potential.