Building Confidence: Practice Like You Play
Drills that put players in a physical position to do one skill over and over again can help them to get better. “Muscle memory” is built, learning happens, especially at slower-than-game-like speeds, and players can figure out how to move their bodies to achieve success. Drill work is really important to skill development.
Drills and reps, however, can fall short in their carryover of learning to games.
College coaches tell us that one of the things they think today’s players are lacking is simply time playing the game. So, in addition to reps with a coach in practice, every kid should play the game in practice!
Practice Like You Play
You team, especially if you have limited practice time, should do as many “live” or “game-like” workouts and situations as they can fit in.
Playing at game speed in practice is the best way to anticipate what might or is likely to happen in a game.
It’s hard for a drill to offer the unexpected bounces, the off-the-end-of-the-bat spinning ground balls and “I thought it was right at me” situations that happen in games regularly. Live situations in practice will provide opportunities for game-like experiences.
Find ways for players to get a sense of timing, and have the thoughts and feelings that come with a live event. A live event can be one pitch! Experiencing the feelings of excitement, confidence, and self-talk in a live situation–even in practice–can help a player when those feelings come back around in a game.
Having more real-world situations in a practice setting we know is beneficial.
Players should be encouraged to approach the field with game-like focus and enthusiasm at every training session.
Coaches, create the conditions for these feelings. Teach players how to work on the energy, focus and communication that they’d use in a game, in practice.
Make games feel much like a practice, or make practice harder than a game. This will help players be more relaxed and confident come game time.