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Deliberate Practice

Connected Practice

One play stands out from yesterday’s classic playoff game in which the Minnesota Twins defeated the Detroit Tigers to earn a trip to New York to play the Yankees.

Late in the game, a Detroit player tried to bunt. If he had been successful, it might have helped the Tigers build a crucial run. Instead, the attempt failed.

I mention this not to single out a player (I don’t even know who it was) but to illustrate a point about practice.

Every day as part of the batting practice ritual, players are called upon to bunt a couple of balls. As you can imagine, some players go through the motions, and others take it more seriously. Yes, even on the pro level there are those who practice better than others.

If you want to be the best at what you do, you must stay connected in practice. I first heard this term from University of Washington volleyball coach Jim McLaughlin, and it has really helped my teams improve.

By the word “connected,” Coach McLaughlin means this: You must practice a skill with an understanding of how important the skill is, and with the knowledge that someday it could help decide a match.

For bunting in batting practice, the thought process would be: I am going to apply full concentration on every attempt, because someday — perhaps today or months in the future — a bunt could help my team win a game.

Once again, I don’t know anything about the way yesterday’s bunter practices. But I am definitely going to use his failed attempt as a chance to remind my players to use practice to prepare fully for the moment when it comes.

The fact that I am writing about baseball today comes from a love for the game that was instilled by my father. He is in the hospital right now; I am going to see him as soon as I am done here.


2 comments for “Connected Practice”

  1. great article on baseball and your dad as well. My dad who you know passed away this summer lives on inside me especially this time of year (World Series baseball). As a former minor leaguer player I inherited his love of the game and that what its all about
    Your dad is in my prayers

    Posted by kevin reilly | October 7, 2009, 10:30 am
  2. Hope your father is doing ok.

    Posted by scott stiefbold | October 8, 2009, 9:13 am

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