As a baseball coach, I am always looking for ways that I can improve my teams' practices. My goal is to have our players engaged and working hard on their reps and techniques every single day. With that, I have come up with the "Seven C's" of Practice: competition, conditioning, communication, concentration, commitment, correctable errors, and celebration. Continue for a full breakdown of each and see how they can help take your teams' practices to the next level.
Competition: Every drill should have a purpose and every player should be aware of what that purpose is. We always want to be challenging our players and pushing them to improve individual skills and get better. One way we do this is by making practice competitive. For example, during our live batting practice sessions, we keep track of how many balls each hitter puts in play and award points for each one (1B=1pt, 2B=2pts, K=1point for P, you get the drift). The team with the most points at the end of BP gets a reward. Things like this may seem like a small thing, but can really get the guys going and makes them want to perform well, leading to a more energetic and effective practice.
Conditioning: A dynamic warm-up before each practice is essential for ensuring that players are loose and ready to start when we begin working on fundamentals at the start of practices. We also make sure to do some form of conditioning at the end of every practice so that our players are in shape and can give 100% effort every day, while ultimately building them up physically to avoid injuries and perform at their best during the season.
Communication: Good communication is essential for any team, but it is especially important in baseball because so much happens at once at a high rate of speed. We work on our communication skills every day by talking through everything we do on the field. When we are running drills, we always explain the reason why we are doing them and what we are trying to accomplish by doing the specific drill. This helps players understand the importance of what they are doing and makes them more likely to buy in and give their best effort.
Concentration: It can be easy to get lost in the shuffle during practice, especially if you are doing something you don't enjoy or you don't understand its purpose. That is why it is important for players to have concentration on what they are doing, told why they are doing what they're working on, and who is around them at all times. I remind our athletes to constantly stay focused and locked in on the task at hand so that they get the most out of each rep.
Commitment: Our team has a saying: "practice with a purpose." This means that we approach every drill with intent and make sure that everyone is working hard to progress towards their goals. We also stress the importance of committing to your teammates and holding each other accountable. If someone isn't giving their all, we expect the group to step up and help their teammates achieve more and hold them accountable. The team benefits, and players are kept accountable to continue working hard and getting better together.
Correctable Errors: One thing I always tell our players is that there are no mistakes in baseball, only correctable errors. This means that even if you make an error during a game, you can learn from it and prevent it from happening again in the future. We use this mentality during practice as well, so that players feel comfortable making mistakes and know that they can learn from them. This helps create an environment where players feel free to experiment and try new things without fear of failure. Baseball is a sport of adversity and mentally you must stay loose, not rigid, let them try things that may not be "conventional", correct where needed if it is holding back their development. Some players do things "unconventionally" and are elite. Sometimes you don't put a saddle on a stallion!
These seven principles have helped my teams tremendously over the years both on and off the field. By following these guidelines, you can create a practice environment that is conducive to learning and growth for your players. Remember: Competition, Conditioning, Communication, Concentration, Commitment, Correctable errors, and Celebration!!!!
You add the extra C when necessary! :)