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Girls learn the Ropes, too

May 5, 2008
Author: Mira Wassef
Publication Date: May 5, 2009
Training Center: Chester, NY

Whatever their preference, softball players head to Frozen Ropes, a baseball and softball training facility in Chester, in the off-season to work on all aspects of their game.

"I've been going since I was 11," said John S. Burke Catholic senior catcher Paige Molloy.

"They teach you to do everything properly, and they all really love the game and they pass that on to you."

Some of the core work includes a fast-pitching class using weighted balls to help increase velocity of pitches, and a diamond-strength class, which is a conditioning class geared toward flexibility, bat speed, and running speed. Or you can head to one of the visualization classes that help with relaxation and mental exercises to help in-game performance. There is also vision training that improves pitch recognition and reading the spin patterns on the softball.

"I go mainly in the off-season to practice pitching, fielding and hitting," said Middletown third baseman Katey Knapp. "The pitching and batting has helped me a lot."

One of the more popular classes - called throws like a girl - emphasizes throwing skills. It started in January and runs on Sunday mornings. There are also one-on-one lessons with an instructor or players get in some work with the machines. Lessons with an instructor run for about half an hour and cost $30.

"They teach the correct way to do things," said Burke Catholic freshman Dana Martin. "I've done the hitting lessons with an instructor and they taught me how to use my strength and my arms. My overall hitting is much better and it's helped me work out of slumps."

Frozen Ropes opened in 1993, but only began catering to softball players about six or seven years ago. Fifteen years ago, there were mostly baseball players, but now about 20 to 25 percent of the clientele is softball players.

"I think girls, in general, are more committed to training now," said Tony Abbatine, Frozen Ropes' director of instruction. "Girls didn't used to train so hard, but now they realize that it's almost mandatory to do some off-season work."

Abbatine said most of the athletes train in the fall and winter, and use Frozen Ropes to help them get recruited. Abbatine works closely with many Division I college coaches and travels to local softball fields in the summer.

"I wouldn't be the player I am without them," Molloy said.