The Ole Ball Game

Practice Organization Structure, Stay Consistent, They Do Best When It Is Comfortable As They Will Know What Is Going To Happen.

defensive action

The best strategy for practice organization structure is consistency. Players do best when it is comfortable, as they will know what is going to happen next.

Keeping your daily segments in the same order will accomplish this. For interest and variety, change up the activities or drills used within those areas.

For example, say you decide to begin each session with a defensive segment. Defense stays in that slot each time; but the drills and activities change within it, all related to defense in whatever areas you feel you need that day in time.

Flexibility is another key word that carries a lot of weight within the plan. Knowing when to stay with a drill a little longer, or even more important, to know when to get out of an activity that just isn't doing well. The plan is only a guide, it shouldn't gain ownership of the situation.

A Recent Example Of Losing Sight Of The Plan

This situation was conveyed to me by a 12 year old D'backs camper, on a Wednesday morning of a week long camp.

We were working through station rotations, and his group had just come to the hitting station I was conducting. About half way through the 20 minute segment, this camper said he didn't feel well, and asked to set out.

I had him sit in the shade and get some water. When the rotation finished, his group moved on to the next station.

I asked him how he was doing, he said he hurt all over. He then proceded to explain that the night before, at his team's workout, they had been doing what he called, throwing the diamond.

It was a box drill, on the infield, using the bases for the corners. The starting goal for the drill was to record 150 complete, error free rounds in succession. I had to ask, just how long did that take? The answer, one hour and 15 minutes.

What could the coach in this situation possibly have been thinking? What conclusions will the players come to as they look back on it? How long will it be before many of them decide that baseball really isn't fun, and look to go in another direction? Those questions, plus the obvious, what does that potentially do to a young players arm?

One Possible Plan

  1. Stretch and form run

  2. Throwing program

    • One Knee ~ 1 minute.

    • 45 feet ~ 1 minute.

    • 60 feet ~ 3 minutes.

    • 90 feet ~ 3 minutes.

    • 120 feet ~ 3 minutes.

    • 150 feet ~ 3 minutes.

    • Quick catch, 15 feet ~ 1 minute.

  3. Team defense

    • Positional/individual

    • Team items such as pickoffs, rundowns, etc.

    • Mix it up and do a combination; but always defense.

  4. Team offense

    • Special offensive plays

    • Base running, things like tagging and reading down angles

    • Situational hitting

  5. Hitting

    • Organize groups to hit in

    • Create stations to accomodate those groups, based on the facilities and coaches to run them

    • Work in pitcher's bullpens during this time

    • Small groups, 3-4 players work best for station rotations, providing the most repetitions for the time spent

    • Hitting live or off a machine on the field, becomes just one of the rotations

    • How technical and animated your BP becomes is generally dictated by the age and experience of your players. The older, more advanced players help create a high energy, always moving bp scenario. Younger players need a slower, more distinct atmosphere for safety as well as concentration.

    • As an example, older players in a group of 4 are able when hitting live on the field, have 1 hitter at the plate, one player on deck to hit and two players, each hitting fungos to players who are also shagging in the field.

    • Younger players can have the player at the plate; but will do better with two seperate tee drills with whiffle balls along the backstop, say just a straight swing station and a ball out in front drill, with the fourth player on deck.

  6. Conditioning

    • I have always believed that conditioning should be accomplished throughout the practice, by way of baseball drills. The same is true of the actual conditioning segment.

    • Relays make a terrific competitive activity, work on a needed skill, and the conditioning is disguised inside the drill.

    • Base running is another great way to obtain team conditioning while working on turns, tags, lean-look-stutter, steals and coach-base-coach. It doesn't take much time; but delivers positive results all the way around.

  7. Team release

    • Gather everybody together, end on a positive note of your choice to send them on their way, already looking forward to the next practice.

Yogi Berra, inducted to Baseball Hall Of Fame, 1972.  Lifetime batting average .285, one of the most quotable baseball players of all time

If You Don't Know Where You Are Going, You Might End Up Somewhere Else! ( Yogi Berra )

Practice Structure Organization Tips ~ From the Dugout

practice structure tips ~ from the dugout

  • The structure or format that you work in should be what feels best to you. Some coaches designate entire practices to defense, then alternate days with offense.

  • The secret is consistency and stability for the players. That is what builds confidence and allows them to relax and concentrate in the moment.

  • Give some thought to throwing in a fun game now and then.

17th century French playwright and actor who is considered one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western Literature

"Our Minds Need Relaxation And Give Way Unless We Mix, With Work, A Little Play." ( Moliere ~ French playwrite and actor.) Be Psyched Up, Not Tied Up!

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