Brandon Marcello is the Strength and Conditioning Coach for USA Softball and for Baylor University. We spoke to him to get his thoughts on how he prepares world-class softball athletes and why conditioning is so important for all fastpitch players.
What are the responsibilities of a Strength and Conditioning Coach?
For the USA Softball team the responsibilities are to develop strength and conditioning programs for the girls based on an individual prescription.
We need to know what the needs of the sport dictate, what the needs of the position dictate, and we need to know what the needs of each individual is within each of those descriptions. Whether it's a pitcher, infielder, outfielder, etc.
How are the needs different by position in softball?
A lot of it depends on limiting factors. If you look at it by position pitchers need more overall stamina than the other positions.
If you're looking at catchers you know that hip mobility plays an important part. There's a lot of things which transcend all the positions such as balance, stability, shoulder stability, hip stability--things of that nature.
But the goal is to attack that specific limiting factor and find something that helps an athlete lift up their game.
I noticed your pre-game warm-up with had a lot of balance and coordination drills.
With a sport such as softball it's very chaotic. You don't know where the ball is going to be at all--so you have to be able to respond and react. And being in balance is absolutely key to success. But it isn't just on the conditioning side.
We also stress being in close communication with the rest of the support staff such as the massage therapist, the team physician, and the team athletic trainer. We all work in concert with each other to find out exactly what the athlete's needs are.
What are some of the common injuries you guys are looking out for and what do you do to treat them?
The common injuries are typically shoulder injuries and lower back injuries. So depending on what injuries they may have had coming up and injury histories are very well-known. But we have a very healthy group. We're lucky not to have many injuries at all.
At this stage it's more of an overuse thing. Sometimes that's an issue with pitchers but we have so many good ones--who can all be considered No.1 pitchers. So the workload can be spread across pretty well.
The big thing is to make sure they are conditioned and they don't fatigue as quickly. When fatigue sets in that's when you're setting yourself up for possible injuries to occur.
So if we can increase that stamina where they don't get fatigued as quickly we've made a great contribution for injury prevention. And hopefully it translated onto the field.