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  Reprinted from Mature Fitness (formerly published as the Senior Fitness Bulletin) by
 permission of the American Senior Fitness Association (800) 243-1478,
 www.seniorfitness.net

      Active Lifestyles


Winning Strategies

Keep your eye on the ball with these home-run ideas:
  • Fitness professionals, help interested clients get involved in senior softball. You may also wish to offer personal training or group exercise services to a local team.
  • Players, consider earning fitness certification through the American Senior Fitness Association and become your team's in-house trainer!

PLAY BALL!

Al Schneider, an investment banker, helped to form the New Jersey Senior Softball Association (NJSSA), a program which debuted in the spring of 1990 with six traveling teams. Nowadays, the NJSSA is 3,000 to 4,000 strong. In fact, all over the country, older Americans participate in softball competitions leading to the National Association for Senior Circuit Softball's annual World Series in a different host city each October.

Senior softball offers competitive play on local, state and national levels for men over 50. In local play, the men are loosely grouped in two age divisions, 50_59 and 60 and above. In state and national competitions, they are grouped by age in five-year increments. Some teams are sponsored by businesses; most are self-supporting.

Players generally chip in to pay for the umpire and the field and receive a uniform shirt and hat in return, as well as plenty of competition and companionship. In a typical fee arrangement, the fee is $30 for a player and $250 for the sponsor whose name is emblazoned on the shirts.

Senior softball teams practice and play during the week and on weekends, and travel anywhere there is senior competition.

Softball rules have been modified for NJSSA play to avoid the serious injuries that might result from collisions. Sliding is prohibited at first base and home plate. There are two side-by-side first bases and two home plates positioned to avoid runner and fielder contact, and all plays at home plate are force outs. All senior softball programs use arc (slow pitching to emphasize hitting and fielding and to help create lots of action for the league players).

From January 31st through February 4th, Al Schneider's company, Active Life Styles, Inc., will hold the 2001 Adult Softball Camp near Orlando, Florida. The five-day-long event will include a Get Acquainted Party, daily exercises, batting and field practices, eight umpired games, a mini tournament, and an awards banquet!

In addition, all participants receive daily lunches, a personalized equipment bag and team shirt, a WC VIII cap, and a set of camp instructions explaining how the program operates. The camp emphasis is similar to baseball's spring training, with teams being assigned players and players wearing color-coded team shirts and caps.

Men of all ages and abilities participate in Softball Winter Camp. Many return year after year. Throughout the five-day period, players and their families also take advantage of special rates on nearby golfing or tennis or joined in numerous other fun-filled events.

The camp's motto is: "You don't stop playing because you grow old; you grow old because you stop playing!"

Schneider, 60, who has played the game since he was a boy, said his enthusiasm for the sport hasn't changed, but "now I don't have to stop until I'm 75 or 80." And with the five-year age increments at the state and national levels, he laughed, "every five years, you can become a rookie again!"

For more information, contact: Al Schneider, Active Life Styles, Inc., Winter Sports Camps, 27 Hickory Lane, Boonton NJ 07005 (telephone 973-335-3828 or 888-335-3828, e-mail info@softballcamp.com, Website www.softballcamp.com).

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