Long before the first pitch is ever thrown, the outcome of a baseball game is decided on the practice field. As a coach, creating a practice plan can help you manage your time better and keep your assistant coaches and players organized and on task, instead of wasting valuable minutes standing around or transitioning from one drill to the next. The more efficient you and your players can be in practice, the better prepared your team will be when it takes the field for a game. If you want to get the most out of your players during practice, here are some guidelines to maximize your time on the diamond. (See also 6 Baseball Practice Plan Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Team, Run a Better Indoor Baseball Practice and How to Construct a Baseball Workout.)
Establish a firm start time
A 3:30 p.m. start does not mean players should begin arriving at 3:30. Players should arrive 10 to 15 minutes early to get their equipment ready and their cleats laced up. If you're on time, you're late. (Why You Should Learn to Embrace Practice.)
Before practice, post a practice schedule in the dugout
This way, players can review what the day's practice will cover. You can even review the plan with your players prior to the start of practice. Make sure you stick to the schedule, because baseball players love routine and structure.
Break the practice down into different segments
Split it up into a warm-up, infield/outfield, hitting, positional breakdowns, etc. (If you are still a little unsure about how a practice plan should be laid out, here's an example of a good baseball practice plan.)
Don't try to fit everything into one practice
Focus on bunt defenses and rundowns one day and first and third plays the next. Of course, you should do some things every practice—e.g., dynamic warm-up and throwing. Dedicate a set number of minutes to each aspect.
Make sure your other coaches are on the same page
When time expires on a specific drill, be ready to move on to the next. If you anticipate that your players may have trouble with a specific part of practice, allow extra time to work on those fundamentals.
Emphasize hustling to your players
You only have a set number of hours to practice. You don't want to waste valuable minutes transitioning from one part to another. The culture of hustle will translate to the drills themselves and later into games.
End practice on time
If you want your time as a coach to be respected by your players, you need to respect their time as well. Taking practice over the scheduled limit shows the same disrespect to your players as their showing up late does to the coaches. When the players know that practice will end on time, they will take the time they have on the field more seriously.
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