The influence of a simulated game on muscular strength in female high-school and collegiate softball pitchers
Softball pitchers often pitch several games within a day and over consecutive days during a competitive season. High volumes of pitches thrown can decrease muscular strength, resulting in less proximal force generation and upper extremity compensation to maintain performance. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess upper and lower extremity muscular strength after pitching in a simulated game. Fourteen softball pitchers (17.9 ± 2.3 years, 166.4 ± 8.7 cm, 72.2 ± 12.6 kg) completed baseline isokinetic strength assessment for knee, hip, trunk and pitching elbow flexion and extension as well as trunk rotation. Seven days later, participants pitched a simulated game consisting of 105 fastballs prior to repeating all strength assessments. Changes in muscular strength were assessed using paired samples t-tests, with significance set as p ≤ 0.05. Normalised (%BW) stride leg knee extension peak torque was significantly higher (p = 0.020) post-simulated game (75.1 ± 24.6%BW) as compared to baseline (64.0 ± 19.5%BW) and trunk flexion peak torque was significantly higher (p = 0.009) post-simulated game (84.8 ± 47.0%BW) as compared to baseline (63.5 ± 47.1%BW). This study showed an increase in knee extension and trunk flexion strength after an acute bout of pitching. The findings give insight into muscular changes following pitching which can assist in appropriate softball training and recovery.