This week I wanted to try to give you some ideas on how to create a setting of execution and excellence during your throwing sessions at practice. We all know that if you start to measure something players will start to take notice. It will start to matter. It becomes their motivation to do better than the day before. I have always said that most games are won well before the game ever starts. If you watch both teams prepare you can usually pick the winner in advance. The ideas to change the way we do things are not complicated ones but rarely do I see them used. Use some of these ideas at practice or even before games to scare the hell out of your opponent and show them what type of team they are up against that day.
- NO CHASE – It is standard practice that once the ball gets by a player they go get it and there is usually no consequence for an overthrow or a ball that is not caught. Since there is nothing riding on each throw this part of practice can become very lackadaisical, mundane, and the game like feel we want to create is not present. To create some pressure lets do a complete 180 and do not allow players when throwing to go get balls they miss. Instead if a ball gets passed a player for any reason they leave it and get another ball from a coach who is ready and waiting to distribute balls when needed. To keep it simple coaches would count the overthrown balls once the throwing session is over, record that amount, and then impose some sort of conditioning like abs, sprints, push-ups, burpees, or anything else we can dream up. Imagine how much more concentration players are going to put into throws and how much better they will move to get into a good position to make a catch when they know every throw matters!
- OVER/UNDER – Overthrown balls must be chased down by the player that threw it. The partner is also responsible for switching places with the player that launched it over their head. When a ball is underthrown that ball has the chance to be caught unlike the overthrow. If we can get our players into good position they can pick-it or get a long hop. If the in-between hop eats them up then both partners must do “something” you have decided in advance. Make them pay-up immediately. No rolling over push-ups until the end of the throwing session.
- QUICK CATCH – Have players perform 5-10 throws to each other at 60-90 feet as a way to finish off the throwing session. Time it for team records or personal bests. Last team must do an extra set of conditioning. Many times we would not stop until every group completed in successfully. If a throw got away then we would start again.
- Another idea that is not really measurable but players like is to play music during their throwing sessions. It can liven things up and tends to be more upbeat if music is playing.
Again, the idea is simple. Make good throws or suffer the consequences. The recipe is good pitching + good defense = a chance to win. Emphasize this at practice, especially during your throwing sessions. Record team records and celebrate when they achieve these. Good luck this season, win pitches, focus on the present, and dominate the game 1-Pitch at a time as a 1-Pitch Warrior!