Wednesdays Web Gems Tips – Practice as Play is Best
Coaches often implore ball players to “Practice like they play,” and then do the opposite themselves by taking a traditional infield practice. The traditional way to take infield practice is to begin by hitting balls to one fielder at a time, with players knowing where the ball is to go. Obviously, this is not game-like, as players do not know where the ball will go in the game. The result is that players do not get in the habit of being ready on every swing of the bat, which is an important attitude to develop in youth ball players.
A better way for baseball coaches to take practice infield is to hit balls to any position, at any time. In this way, players have to be on their toes, anticipating the ball coming their way. If coaches want players to work on double plays and positioning, they simply yell out a game situation before each batted ball.
For example, coaches yell out, “Man on first, one out,” before swinging, at which time players shift into double play position and make appropriate play.
Players learn positioning and anticipation much better with this “anything goes” practice.
*Coaches can use this infield method occasionally, if not all the time, and especially when the regular way is getting boring for youth players.
Finally, it is important to realize that pre-game professional infield practice is often for show and is the reason they have always done it the traditional way.