Practice Pace, Competitiveness and Individualization
Some of the struggles with team practice have to do with individualization. Individualization in a team setting can be challenging to say the least, but is incredibly important. For those against individualization in a team setting I’d argue that the better the individual, the better the team. Therefore, there is an argument to figure out how to coach the individual, while still having a team approach to practice and training. Here are 3 important ways to create individualization during competitive practices that have great tempo and pace.
Find great volunteers
When you have a fast paced practice it’s easy to miss the individual. This is where I would say that it’s important to find great volunteers. Last year, as a high school coach, I had the opportunity to rove for the first time. I had great paid coaches and volunteers. This allowed me the chance to focus on individuals and find out what was working for them and what wasn’t. Each volunteer and paid coach served a purpose, whether it be coaching infielders/outfielders, pitchers, or hitters. Since we had enough people working, it made it easier for me to work with individuals and find out what we can do to help each individual athlete.
Last year I didn’t use enough data to work with my athletes. Therefore, we didn’t have enough information to help our athletes get better. Athletes are thirsting for data to know what they can do to get better. Data helps you to understand what you need to do to help them with their swings/pitching motions. If you aren’t using data to help your athletes get better you are missing out on opportunities to truly help them from an objective standpoint. Even if you don’t have money to buy a ton of tech. Blast motion is incredibly cheap and using a radar gun to get exit velocity are easy ways to track things for your athletes. You can also use LA strings to get a rough estimate on where you athletes are launching baseballs on a consistent basis. All of these help to give athletes an objective view of their swing, and measurement equals motivation.
Rethink Cage Work
The typical BP set-up has different groups with one on the field hitting, a couple groups in the field, one running, and one in the cage. What if we did all of our prep work/cage work together and then went to the field. This would allow each of the coaches to be around during cage work and there would be no dicking around in the cage because coaches were there to help and police. You could do all of your different drills while having coaches work with individual hitters. This would also prepare each hitter to hit live on the field. The field work after the cages would challenge the hitter and they would be prepared through individualized cage work beforehand. It’s easy to do things the way you’ve always done them, but think about changing things up and figuring out ways to individualize, while still holding a team practice.
It’s so important to help out each individual, but it can be challenging in a team setting. How can you change the way you approach a team setting to help your individuals? Lastly, it may take athletes staying after so you can test/re-test during the season to see where improvements can be made.