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Coaching Tips

How to Get More Out of Practice

The other day I watched a school baseball team practice.

With bat in hand, the coach worked with the outfielders, hitting fly balls for them to catch.

This was a ritual that goes back well over a century. But something was missing: the effort to get better on every play.

Every ball that came off the coach’s bat offered a chance for improvement, if only the players wanted to use it. On each ball, the players could have practiced their:

Ready position
Judging of where the ball would go
Footwork on the first two or three steps to the ball
Footwork to prepare for the return throw

All of that can come on one fly ball hit by a coach.

Experts say that expertise comes with 10,000 hours of practice, or about 20 years’ worth.

You can shorten the process by doing what those boys in the outfield weren’t doing: getting the most out of every repetition. We’re not talking about a shortcut here. We’re talking about working harder and smarter. We’re talking about mining every chance for everything it is worth.

Whether it’s sports, music, school or business, you can get better faster if you engage in what experts call deliberate practice. Pick out one aspect of the repetition and focus on it. Let’s say it’s the takeaway on your golf swing. Observe the result and decide what adjustments to make. Try again.

Practice should not be judged only by its length. Depth matters, too.

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Thank you for visiting Total Game Plan. While you’re here, you can find many other articles to help you reach your potential.

How to Survive Your Sports Season” is an invaluable resource to help you with the highs and lows of practice and competition.

To improve at anything, check out “The Improvement Factor: How Champions Turn Practice into Success.”

Need some motivation? Everyone needs it now and then. Open any page of “Thank God You’re Lazy! The Instant Cure for What’s Holding You Back” for a story or a quote to lift your spirits.

Are you a sports coach? Here’s “Ten Things Great Coaches Know” by Mike Tully and Gary Pritchard.


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