If you’ve ever been in a rut before, you know that it tends to drain all the enthusiasm, energy, creativity and enjoyment right out of you.
I once heard someone say, “Being in the same old rut, doing the same old thing, is like always eating leftovers.” (Author unknown)
Baseball practice can be the same way.
It’s a skill sport and we need to practice the basics properly over and over and over.
Practicing baseball fundamentals is sorta like eating veggies… they’re important to being strong and staying healthy.
But just because it’s a basic food group, doesn’t mean it has to be boring.
Do you remember when the word “brussel sprouts” created a mental image of boiled, flavorless mush? Just hearing the word made me cringe!
But today, things are quite different. Brussel sprouts are the hot item on every trendy restaurant menu.
Why is that? What changed?
It’s the same vegetable it always was.
What changed was the presentation.
Chef’s have gotten more and more creative with how to use them (roasted with bacon is still one of my favs). And with that creativity and fun came far better results.
Now brussels fly off the shelves almost as fast as toilet paper in a pandemic!
One grocer said he went from ordering them once a year to ordering them every other week… and still sells out regularly. And farms have increased farmland devoted to growing brussel sprouts by more than 400%.
Rather than being shunned, hated and avoided, now they… and their health benefits… are far more likely to become part of my diet.
Over the next few days, I want to share with you 3 practical ways to turn “boiled” fundamentals practice into “roasted with garlic and bacon.”
So here’s #1 for how to put the FUN in baseball fundamentals (sorry bad dad pun)
Idea #1 – Competition
Something about adding a stop watch to a drill or creating healthy competition to fundamental work intensifies focus and brings players closer together.
Here’s a real world example…
One morning when I was with the Rangers, the coaches had all the infielders throw the ball around the horn (Catcher to third base, to second base, to first base and back to the catcher).
Focus was low.
Intensity was down…
…and Major League infielders were dropping balls and making poor throws at only 90 feet. It was rough to be a part of and I know it was rough for the coaches to watch.
Then, our infield coach stopped the drill, pulled out his stopwatch.
We got into groups of 4 and had a competition, see which group could get the ball around the bases the quickest. Losing team had to get lunch for the winning team.
Wow, how quickly things changed! Throws were crisp and accurate, balls were not hitting the ground, talking and joking stopped during the drill and focus was high. But, after the ball popped back into the catchers mitt, the talking started.
There was excitement, fun trash talking back and forth and a time for the next team to beat. (By the way, we won, and it was one of the best turkey sandwiches I had that spring.)
So there you go. The same boring exercise can have a new burst of enthusiasm, effort and fun if you can bring out the competitive nature of your players.
Now if you found a way to incorporate competition or fun into your AT HOME baseball practice, I would love to hear about it.
Next I’m going to share a story about Omar Vizquel, and how he kept the FUN in fundamentals… even after a 24 year career of practicing the SAME fundamentals OVER AND OVER AGAIN. I’ll tell you his secret to keeping it fresh soon.
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Stay safe and healthy,
PS. Don’t let Covid-19 cost you a whole year of baseball! To add more fun and focus into your training, check out these online programs, taught exclusively by Major League players. Check out The Academy at PBI https://academy.probaseballinsider.com/