Strength Training Journey of an Olympic Softball Player - A Personal Story - High Level Throwing - (2023)

*Gastpost door Team USASoftball Olympian,HaylieMcCleney

Growing up, I was always the shortest kid on my team.I was naturally gifted with speed, which brought me to a point in the game of softball where I could just put the ball on the ground and hit an infield hit with relative ease. I was successful, but I knew I had to improve. I wasn't satisfied with being the best in my area, in my state, not even the best in the country. I wanted to be the best in the world. That's something I still strive for to this day, 20 years after I first picked up a bat.

Around my freshman year of high school, I started lifting weights and building some muscle. I was lucky enough to go to one of the few high schools in the area that encouraged its female athletes to attend summer practices and continue lifting in the fall and spring semesters, regardless of what sport they competed in during those seasons.

I lifted weights all year round for four years, in addition to field running, basketball, and softball. It kept me injury free and allowed me to continue to gain strength while keeping my competition exhausting. I was able to finish workouts and finish games stronger than when I first started.

I firmly believed that spending so much time training and laying that foundation in high school led me to multiple scholarships and an eventual signing to the University of Alabama. I fell in love with the weight room. When I arrived on campus in Tuscaloosa, I fell even more in love.

Even after all the training I did in high school, I was one of the skinny players on the roster when I arrived in Tuscaloosa.I still used my slapping and speed game for most of my freshman year because I didn't feel like I had the confidence or ability to consistently hit to power. I just wasn't strong enough. But in the second year everything changed.

By consistently getting into the weight room and not being afraid of heavy weights, I gained 20 pounds of pure muscle after my freshman year of college. All my power hitting numbers have doubled in one year.

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I continued my game and my athletic skills throughout my 4 years of study and continued to train until I was included in the Olympic roster in October 2019. I'm very confident that I wouldn't be on the Olympics roster without my commitment to a consistent strength and conditioning regimen!

Haylie McCleney TEAM USA Softball - Strength Training Program

What that looks like to me is typically training 5x/week, when we're not in an active match phase or training camp. 3x/week total body strength training and 2x/week conditioning sessions, usually focusing on speed and agility in relation to softball. When we are in training camp with Team USA, we usually practice twice a day and lift anywhere from 2-4 times a week on top of our training and game schedule.An example of a practice day might look like this:

If we had a game in the afternoon, we'd probably lift that morning as well. Why? Because we know we have to be our absolute strongest in game time. We want to survive our opponents and for that we have to be strong and fit.

It has been one of the factors that separates the really good softball players from the great softball players. If you couple that to the fact that strength training prevents injuries, then you not only have a strong team, but also a healthy team that can finish their work well. We don't get tired that easily and constantly perform at almost top level. That's what Olympians strive for.

Olympians work extremely hard, but we also work extremely smart. Every lift we do has a specific purpose that translates directly to the playing field. The same goes for our conditioning sessions. We must consistently train in the right way. For us, this usually means a more simplistic approach to training. We don't always need a million reps and heavy weights. It's more about how our body feels at that moment and what we need.

A lift for us will usually follow a certain outline: something explosive (jumping, sprinting, moving weight quickly), a lower body push/pull, then an upper body push/pull, with core work in between. It's a simplistic approach that gets the job done that athletes on our roster actively enjoy.

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(Video) Top 3 Upper Body Exercises for Softball Players

Don't just take my word for it. See what other Olympians have to say about why strength training is so important to them and what benefits it brings them.

“My personal training has been different because of my age, so when we're alone my strength building has been more of a long maintenance phase with some fast circuit training adding the bursts of heart rate I need. This has worked for me personally because I can't sacrifice my mobility so I can stay strong while still being able to perform. –Kat Osterman

I can confirm this with Cat. At 38 years old, her body needs different things than the rest of our group. I firmly believe that her dedication to a solid training regimen has kept her in the game and allowed her to perform at her best level for so long.

Another veteran player said:“We already have really long play days and practice days, so the fact that we can get lifts/conditioning in about 30 minutes is really nice. My body feels stronger but can still move well.” –Michelle Moultrie

That is exactly what our training aims to achieve. Our goal is to improve strength a bit over time while ensuring that every athlete can still perform at a high level. When you feel better, you play better.

Perhaps the coolest explanation I could get was from Valerie Arioto. She said, "Strength and conditioning make me feel like I have super powers, like I can survive anything and anyone. But it is also my therapy. Not only does it give me confidence that I am physically prepared and at my best, but it also gives me more energy mentally and the release of stress. I just feel better on and off the field, and generally happier doing what I love!” –Valerie Ariote

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We train together as a unit while still giving everyone the space to individually get the details they need, empowering our entire roster to be confident and strong women.

Where does that confidence come from? Dedication to training. Dedication to the process. Dedication to each other. If you want to train like an Olympian, that commitment is the first step.

If you are interested in joining ourOnline remote training platformfor Strength, Outfield, and High Level Throwing® programs OR want to be a part of our AFFILIATE program and earn commissions, email us at for more information!

Strength Training Journey of an Olympic Softball Player - A Personal Story - High Level Throwing - (10)Haylie McCleneyis a professional softball player and is from Morris, Alabama. Most recently, Haylie was named to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic roster, where she will represent Team USA at the 2021 Olympic Games.

She played four years at the University of Alabama, where she was named an All-American four times and a finalist for Collegiate Player of the Year three times. Haylie has been selected for the United States national team for the past seven years, where she has won gold medals at World Championships, the Pan American Games and the World Cup, hoping to cap it off with a gold medal in 2021. She was also a classroom standout, earning three Academic All-American honors before graduating Summa Cum Laude with a bachelor's degree in Human Performance and Exercise Science.

After graduating from Alabama in 2016, Haylie completed a master's degree in exercise physiology at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida in May 2018. She is passionate about being in the weight room and making athletes better both on and off the court. She is a member of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). We are very excited that Haylie will be working directly with our softball force and remote outfield athletes!

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1. Life as an Olympic Athlete and a Mom with Jennie Finch
(The GOLD Standard Life)
2. ELITE Level Strength Training for High School Baseball Players
(Summers Method)
3. D1 Softball Hitter vs. High School Baseball Pitcher
4. How to Build Your Own Softball Workout Program
(Snap Softball by Coach Dan Blewett)
5. Coaching: How Coaches Can Develop Competitive Mindsets in Players - Softball Legend Cat Osterman
(Bhrett McCabe)
6. Role of Arm Angle & Tilt in Softball Throwing Mechanics
(Snap Softball by Coach Dan Blewett)


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