As a sport predominantly played by women, softball is one of the biggest youth sports for girls. But even beyond little league competition, many recreational leagues offer opportunities for co-ed softball teams to get out and play. It’s a popular summer past time, and it has many health and fitness benefits!
Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:
- Provides total body conditioning: Unlike other sports, softball is an activity that requires multiple skills, and therefore provides total body conditioning. Running, swinging, fielding and throwing all require a coordinated effort from numerous muscles throughout the body.
- Anaerobic benefits and strength: Every single action in softball is an explosive action. Hitting, throwing, quick lateral movements, jumps off the bases and others are all explosive. In addition, softball players need throwing power and acceleration power. A base in overall body strength and maximal strength is also important; it serves as a foundation to build muscular power. Some muscular endurance is also beneficial, especially for pitchers.
- Upper body development: The arm and shoulder muscles play a significant role in the softball swinging and throwing motions. The rotator cuff, triceps, biceps, forearms, deltoids and other major upper body muscles are central muscles for being able to swing, pitch and throw with power.
- Mid and lower body conditioning: The power generated during batting comes from the legs and the core. The oblique muscles on the sides of the abdomen are major contributors to the rotational elements of the swinging and throwing motions.
- Requires increased flexibility: Overall flexibility is important in softball, but it is especially important to increase flexibility in the tight areas. Some of the common tight muscles or muscle groups among softball players are hamstrings, hip flexors, calves and chest area (pectoralis minor, more specifically). This tightness greatly increases the risk of injury, so it is important to stretch and stay flexible.
- Burns calories and fat: The average player burns around 300 calories per hour of play.
- Improves self-esteem: Players involved in sports like softball generally feel better about themselves, both mentally and socially. Practicing, improving skills and gradually achieving goals help build confidence, reduce stress and make them more resistant to social pressure. Often, lifelong friendships are formed on the field as the girls learn to trust and rely on each other.
- Mental benefits: Playing sports does more than whittle your waistline and firm up your calves. Research shows that you can reap mental health advantages from playing sports, too. Whether you like the single-minded focus of running or walking, or prefer the camaraderie of a softball team, you’ll feel better if you play sports.
- Teaches teamwork: Working with coaches, trainers and teammates to achieve goals is great practice for the real world where teaming up with others to meet goals are keys to success.
- Develops leadership skills: People usually receive more benefits than they expect from participating in sports. They get attention and respect that they may not receive elsewhere, and participation provides them with opportunities for leadership and socialization, as well as the development of skills for handling success and failure.