Creating intense baseball practices is something a lot of coaches struggle with. They want to prepare their players for game action, but so much of baseball just doesn't lend itself very well to high intensity.
In this installment we wanted to discuss the benefits of holding players accountable. While there are a tremendous amount of benefits of having consequences for failures, creating a more intense baseball practice is certainly one of the best.
Accountable for the right things
We want to make sure that players are accountable for the right things and in the right way. If we set up severe consequences for making an error for example, players may become afraid of making mistakes. This is actually the opposite of what our goal should be for our players.
One of the reasons to make baseball practice more intense is to make players more comfortable with pressure. Make them more accustomed to anxiety, and allow them to practice overcoming it on a daily basis. In the realm of accountability as we're discussing here, we need to be sure we're not overdoing it and swinging the pendulum the other way.
It's okay to make them sweat
In our practices we like it when players are bit afraid. When their heart rate is a little elevated and their palms are a little sweaty. If we can create these situations in practice, then they become more familiar and easier to deal with. Consequences for mistakes can help create this feeling, thus it is worth adding to some drills.
There should ALWAYS be consequences for effort and attitude failures. We think that players should be afraid to have a bad attitude or not hustle. However, when we impose consequences for errors or physical mistakes we need to be a little more careful so we don't create tight baseball players.
Do it right, and do it often
Here are a couple tips for adding accountability to skills practice:
1) Always include drills which don't have consequences with those that do. Players need to be able to figure stuff out and practice the smaller skills of the game without fear. Yes, accountability is necessary if we're going to create more intense baseball practices. That doesn't mean however that our players don't need some lower pressure time to work on their craft, they do.
2) Use rewards as much as consequences. This can work two different ways. First, you can start your team off with a certain amount of "work" at the end of the drill. Maybe it's thirty minutes of field work or ten sprints to end practice. One form of "reward" is to be able to reduce the workload by performing well.
So the team starts with ten sprints and can reduce that by one for every five grounders in a row they field perfectly. This lightens the burden of the "consequence" and even makes it feel like a reward, while retaining the element of accountability.
The second way to reward players for performance is to literally reward them. Maybe a pizza night or a day off from conditioning or something along those lines. Baseball players will remember a gesture like that for a long time, and it's a great opportunity to create something that's fun and good for bonding.
Using consequences for a more intense baseball practice is smart!
All in all, we love accountability as a way to increase the intensity of baseball practice.
As long as you're doing it right, holding your players accountable for their performance in practice is truly one of the best ways there is to ensure high performance in games.
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