How to Set Effective Practice Goals

Practice is the most important part of any team's season—even more important than games. You will practice anywherefrom two to five times more often than you play games, so what you do with your practice time is crucial to your team's success.

Practice is the time for players to improve their skills. Most of the skills involved in softball, such as throwing, hitting, catching,fielding, pitching, and running, are reaction/reflex type skills. This means that your players will not only have to learn howto execute each of these skills, but how to perform them correctly in game situations.

Learning a reaction-type skill takes the average person about 600 repetitions before it becomes automatic. This is alsotrue for your players. You must create practices that allow each athlete a minimum of 600 repetitions per skill to ensure theylearn the skills well enough to perform them successfully.

Using the following information on practice organization, your common sense, and your imagination, you can ensure thatyour players get the proper amount of repetitions to learn a skill.

(Also, keep in mind that doing something over and over does not make us better if what we are doing is wrong. This simplymakes us good at the wrong thing.)

Make sure your players are practicing a skill correctly before you have them do a lot of repetitions. When it comes toimproving skills on the softball field—quality not quantity is the rule to follow.

Plan Your Practices

One of the most important things you can do as a coach is to plan your practices. Planning is critical to successful teachingand coaching.

If your practices are unorganized you will waste valuable practice time and your players will get frustrated andbecome inattentive. Use your practice time wisely.

Try not to plan your practice in the car on the way to practice. Take thetime beforehand to organize your thoughts and put them on paper with goals and time-lines. Your team will greatly benefitfrom a well thought out, organized practice plan.

Goal-Setting For Your Team

Depending on what age and skill level you are coaching, before the season begins it is a good idea to set various goalsfor your team and each player. If you are coaching young players, say 10 and under, your goals should focus on teachingthem how to properly perform basic skills.

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