R.A.K.E. – Team Goals for Each Game
Goals are essential in any area of life. They keep us motivated. Most teams set goals individually and as a team. This is not a new practice that nobody uses but sometimes when I work with teams I notice that they take this to an extreme. They have goal boards in their clubhouse or dugout with 10, 15, or more things they are trying to do. It makes me wonder how many goals are too many goals? If I have a list of 15-20 things I am trying to do whether it be for the day ahead or on the baseball field not all of them usually get done or get the attention they deserve. Undoubtedly all goals are important but narrowing our focus in often needed. My question to you would be if I came to a practice or game could players on your team identify the goals your offense has for this season?
The 1-Pitch Warrior R.A.K.E. System is a way to set individual goals for your team offensively to stay focused on a limited amount of items rather then a large amount of them. Let’s dig into each part of the acronym.
R = Runs Per Game
Simple concept but setting an actual goal based on previous seasons and current personnel is vital in any program. You need to be honest with yourself on this one. You may have just crushed the ball last year and had some guys who could swing the bat but have since graduated and you are not sure if you are going to have the firepower to produce those same type of runs game in and game out. Most importantly, set attainable goals. If you start meeting your goals a quarter of the way through the season and you are finding that they need to be higher then there is nothing that says you can’t change them throughout your season.
A = Appearances (Plate Appearances)
Getting to the dish as many times as possible is vital for offensive success. The more you get to the plate the more runners you will have on base. Creating more difficult situations for the pitcher and defense. Walks, hit by pitch, hits, etc. all play apart in wearing the opposing starter down and also lead to the runs you will score.
K’s = Strikeouts Per Game
We want to limit the amount of strikeouts we give up each game. The K is the easiest out we will ever give up. Putting the ball in play, especially on the ground will always increase your chances of winning. We want to force the other team to make plays. A fly ball takes one catch to record an out while a ground ball takes at least a catch, throw, and catch potentially even more if it is a double play opportunity. No better example than the Kansas City Royals this past season. They were the #1 team in the Major Leagues when it comes to groundballs.
E = Extra Base Hits
We want players who can drive the ball. Not necessarily out of the yard but players than can hit balls in the gaps and leg them out into doubles and even triples. Singles are great but the extra base hit is a game changer. We want to have a goal here as well. With singles it is going to take at least three to score a run but with a double, triple, or homerun we can score much quicker and the quantity we score could quite possibly lead to a big inning. Which is part of BASE2 that many of you have already found to be so valuable as an offensive strategy.
Lets face it, every team you coach will be better at certain facets of the game than others. Each team is not created equal in these categories and goal setting. I am sure that many teams will be very close to each other but you must do the leg work and research the outcomes of past games so you can set some actionable goals for your current group of players.
Jon Fitzpatrick, who was really the brainchild of R.A.K.E. did this with the teams he coached over the past four years. Here is what he found after researching the games they played:
If the team scored 6 runs or more they were 101-6.
If they scored 5 or fewer the record was 20-29.
If the team came to the plate 30 or more times they were 89-19.
If there were 29 or fewer plate appearances record was 32-16.
When they had 5 or fewer strikeouts the results were 90-15.
If there were 6 or more strikeouts then the team was only 31-20.
Extra Base Hits
After dissecting the 4 previous seasons Jon set his goals for the upcoming season at: 6 or more runs per game, 30 or more appearances at the dish, 5 or fewer strikeouts a game by his players, and 3 or more extra base hits. Then he dug deeper into what happened when all four goals were reached, three goals, etc.
Here are those results:
If 4 goals were met, it resulted in a 44-2 record.
If 3 goals were met, it resulted in a 46-4 record.
If 2 goals were met, it resulted in a 13-8 record.
If 1 goal was met, it resulted in a 7-13 record.
If 0 goals were met, it resulted in a 1-8 record.
All things considered if 3 or 4 team goals were met, Jon’s teams were 100-6. This is a 94% winning percentage.
On the flip side if 0-2 goals were met then the teams were only 21-29. A far cry from meeting more goals. This is only a 42% winning percentage.
Many people write their goals on a sticky note and place it in their wallet, on a vision board, or on their bathroom mirror. The point is to have those goals where they are visible and serve as great reminders. The study we conducted is very telling and something very easy to remember by players and easy to post in your dugout this season too. What will you hold of the most importance this season? What goals will you teach, how will you make it apart of your season, and hold your team accountable throughout?