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3 Ways to Take Practice into Games
By: Cindy Bristow
Are you constantly amazed that your team is so good during practice only to fall apart during games? Find out how what you can do to change things and start winning those games.
Here are 2 facts of life about practice:
The reason I included the Did You Know fact this week about NFL games is because so many of us think that softball and baseball are the two sports where everyone spends most of their time standing around. What makes softball so hard is this standing-around time. Managing our minds when our minds are free to wonder is really, really hard.
Our practices usually make everyone involved and require everyone to hurry up and hustle. Not that hustling is bad, not at all, but what we’ve got to do is make our practices help us be successful in games. To do that, let’s look at the factors that are present in games:
Before we move on to discover how we can add some of these critical factors to our practices let’s look closer at the power of Pressure. Pressure is usually present during games and it has an incredible power over people. Pressure alone can be why your players practice so well and play so horribly in games. Pressure means different things to different people, but whatever it is that makes you feel it, it does the same thing to all of us. Pressure (or stress):
Just keep in mind when you’re thinking about the role that Pressure and Stress can play on your players that different things create pressure to different people. I LOVED softball when I was growing up so I never felt nervous being in front of the line for groundballs or being up-to-bat with the bases loaded or having a ball hit to me with the game on the line. But, when I was first learning to pitch and I knew I wasn’t very good, when the coach would look down the bench to figure out who should start warming up if our current pitcher was in trouble, it was years before I ever wanted to make eye contact. There was NO WAY I wanted it to be me! Not at first anyway. I got over that as I got better but I’m still petrified of heights! I’ll fly on a plane all over the world but don’t make me look out the window as the elevator goes to the 3rd floor! We all have our pressure triggers and they all aren’t the same!
OK, now the biggest and most obvious difference between practices and game is Competition! Competition is trying to win something, whether it’s getting to the car first so you could control the radio as a kid (not the same anymore) or having your team win the conference, we like to win! Games are where we can win and lose and too often practice is where we just do things – but we don’t actually compete.
Competition brings things out in us much like Pressure and Stress does, and when you look down this list you’ll see that many of these factors are the same. Why? Because to lots of people Competition IS Pressure. Competition brings out:
Ok so now that we know what Competition does to us there are some things we can do during practice to help our players become more familiar with competition, more comfortable with it and therefore perform more successfully whenever they face it.
During practice, add competition by having your players compete:
Making our practice much more game-like will ensure that our players are more focused, relaxed and confident during games which will really increase their chances of playing good.
For more ways to add competition to your practices check out the following Competitive eDrills we offer:
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"If you coach softball you should take advantage of the knowledge Cindy Bristow is offering through Softball Excellence. I have been involved in fast pitch softball for more than 35 years as a player and coach, and she is the most knowledgeable coach I have worked with. Cindy's basic approach to teaching sound fundamentals, without a bunch of gimmicks, will greatly assist in the preparation of your players to compete physically and mentally. The material she produces is direct, to the point, and easy to absorb." - Ernie Yarbrough - Associate Director Georgia High School Association
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