If you know softball, you know who A.J. Andrews is. The sport’s inaugural Gold Glove winner, and first woman to ever win the award, has dazzled spectators with acrobatic catches and her smooth, effortless style of play for years. But behind her spectacular playmaking is a fierce combination of preparation and determination that took Andrews to the level she’s at today. For Andrews, staying in shape in the offseason is one of the most important parts of her training. We got to talk to the star outfielder about how she approaches her offseason training and get a couple tips and drills she does to improve her agility. Check it all out below!
Q: Training and fitness are a huge part of being a professional athlete in any sport, but what’s something that’s unique about softball training compared to training for other sports?
A: Softball is a very explosive sport that requires a lot of mobility to be successful. You have to have explosive first steps when running the bases, or fielding a ball, and explosive hips when swinging. Every movement in softball requires being very explosive and intentional. It’s important to train your full body with powerful and quick movements every time. Mobility also comes into play because if you are not mobile as an athlete, your body physically cannot be as explosive as possible to match how precise each movement has to be in softball. Most people realize softball players need to do a lot of arm and shoulder strengthening work, but few realize the importance of being explosive in the hips and full body to help take pressure off of the arm when throwing. Softball is a sport where the entire body has to sync at the right times in order to function properly on the field. Full body, explosive movements help the body learn how to do that, while mobility exercises ensure that it is done properly.
Q: When it comes to training for softball in the offseason, what do you think is one of the most underrated or overlooked aspects that you would advise young athletes not to ignore.
A: Cross training or playing other sports. It is so important to not limit yourself especially when you are younger. Playing other sports will help prevent injuries as you are constantly working different muscle groups and not overworking the same ones each time from being sport specific. Also playing other sports will make athletes more athletic, agile, and better mental players. Don’t ignore just going outside and playing tag or invitations to go play a pick up game, it will only help you get better in your specific sport.
Q: Speaking to younger athletes, can you explain why it is so important to train throughout the offseason and not just start a couple weeks or months before the season begins?
A: Training throughout the offseason is important in order to reinvent yourself for the next season. Each season requires a new, more focused, and more developed athlete. The offseason is the time to upgrade and elevate your skills to reintroduce yourself to those players/teams that thought they knew what you were capable of! Next season begins the moment the current season ends. If you are not getting better you are getting worse, and if you wait a couple weeks before the season you will be left in the dust of those who put in miles of work ahead of you during the offseason.
Read more about A.J. and her drive to empower and inspire young women through athletics here.