Here is a little something that we do with our program to enhance focus within practice in the hopes of bringing it to the game.
This is a very simple thing to implement, but very difficult to actually do and control. If you are swift with your infractions and do not stray from them, this slight change in your practice can make a huge difference.
At any given practice, depending on what you are doing, you can do what we call a Focus Practice. It is simply NOT allowing the players to talk AT ALL during practice.
We simply tell our players that if you talk we will ask you to leave practice. We need focused individuals to compete at this level and if you do not have the discipline to stay quiet and keep focused, how can we expect you to have any focus or discipline during competition.
Picking Your Spots
Now, obviously there are many practices where this will not work, especially if you need to communicate between players. Consequently, we do not do many focus practices, but the ones we actually do, have some very beneficial outcomes from them.
We usually practice anywhere from one and a half to two hours, and the whole practice is silent other than the coaching staff communicating and the crack of the bat or pop of the glove. If you get a chance to do this, it is actually something that will put you in awe.
Benefits of a Quiet Practice
We want the kids to be heavily focused on their individual game, to make adjustments and to "feel" their mistakes. We make this type of practice follow a slow, yet methodical, form so that the athletes do not feel rushed. Again, they are in complete focus on what they are doing, so they need some time to think and make the correct adjustments. Everything that we do as far as drill work is game speed however.
I always preface this practice by saying these simple words..."If you can focus for two hours here at practice, that is usually how long it takes for us to beat our opponents. Is this something you are able to do?"
Now, we have never had to kick anyone out of practice for breaking the focus of the team...you can adjust your reprimand on your terms for your team. I invite you to try it however and see how it goes. Then ask the kids how tough it was. It isn't as easy as it sounds.