By Nick Dixon
This article is about 4 relatively inexpensive components that are valuable coaching tools that are available in your favorite mass merchant store. I feel that these components should be in the carry bag of every sports coach.
We all know and realize that productive practices do not happen by chance. The good practices are well planned and organized with specific practice time periods and specific skill drills. As a high school football and baseball coach with over 25 years of experience, I am 100% convinced that these four components can make any sport practice, at any level, more organized and productive. Those components are 1) a Stop Watch, 2) A Detailed Practice Schedule, 3) a Video Camera, and 4) Practice Cones or Markers.
How these four coaching tools improve the quality of practice and instruction.
1. Stop Watch – It is essential that every practice be divided into specific individual or team drill periods. A good stop watch helps keep everything on time and running smooth. It is recommended that time slots be kept shorter for younger age groups. Very seldom would a drill go over 10 minutes for youth teams.
2. Written Practice Schedule – Going on a practice field without a written practice schedule is like driving a car without a steering wheel. You can not conduct good practices without good planning and organization. The practice schedule is divided into time periods with specific team and individual drill. Taking the time to evaluate what the team needs most is extremely important. These written schedules should be kept and reviewed to see when various topics, fundamentals, and skills were taught and practiced. Each schedule outlines what drills are done, the time of the session, what players are involved, and what coaches are conducting the drill.
3. Digital Video Camera – As you have heard many times over and over, the “big eye in the sky does not lie”. A saying that coaches use to emphasize that what you see on video is exactly the way it is. The video camera is a coaches best friend when it comes to teaching hitting, pitching and fielding fundamentals. Video filmed practice action shows players what they need to improve on or correct. Video play backs can also provide positive or negative feedback to reinforce coaching and teaching sessions. If they actions are wrong, they can see their mistakes. If their action is correct, they can see how well they performed. Players recognize and understand verbal instruction much better when they can see a video. Hitters can correct a flaw in swing mechanics much easier if they can actually see the mistake they are making. It is a good idea to video both individual and team drills for later review.
4. Plastic Practice Cones or Markers – These relatively inexpensive cones or markers are used to set up drills. They are orange in color and stack inside themselves to make this easy to store and carry. There are many uses that these can be used for. You can mark bunt zones. You are mark the “get to the line” spot for pitching fielding practice. You can use them to mark the path for a base runner to “fish hook” at first base on a ball hit through the infield. You will come up with many more uses as you plan your practices and workouts.
I hope this article has been useful to you. If you are looking for more articles on baseball, you may visit the Baseball Coaching Digest Blog and the Youth Baseball Clinic Blog. Both feature daily post and articles on all aspects of coaching baseball.
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