Whether you're competing weekly on the company team or just joining the occasional game, playing softball without conditioning can leave you feeling sore -- or worse. Here are some basic guidelines for avoiding injury and performing well.

FLEXIBILITY/INJURY PREVENTION. Before any game, start with 5 to 10 minutes of warm-up activity such as jogging or brisk walking. Then devote time to stretching, paying special attention to these muscles: neck and shoulder muscles, front of thighs (quadriceps), backs of thighs (hamstrings), inner thighs, buttocks, calves. Be sure you're stretching and cooling down AFTER each game, also.

POWER. Strengthen shoulder muscles with side raises, front raises and/or shoulder presses. Push-ups and bench presses can improve overall upper-body strength. By strengthening muscles, you also help protect them against injury.

SPEED. Build leg muscles with strengthening exercises like leg presses and lunges.