At 360U this week, our instructors will focus their classroom discussions around the idea of being intentional in everything we do. Helping our athletes understand the difference between 'quality' vs. 'quantity' reps will set them up for more focused, productive training to ensure they're reinforcing the correct habits and mechanics during their practice.
Not only does this concept of training with INTENT prepare them more mechanically, but also gives them confidence and self-reassurance to know they've prepared well and put quality time into their adjustments and into their overall game! This correlation is absolutely critical for athletes to understand as they approach their upcoming practices, games or seasons!
At 360U, there's intent and reason behind all parts of our instruction - from our time spent in the classroom, to our "everyday" drills in our warm up, to even the smallest detail of how we set the ball on the tee. Even how we finish our lessons with a recap of 2 thing our athlete did AWESOME, and 1 adjustment they plan to keep working on -- and believe us, we're even sticklers about our athletes listing those two points in that order, their strengths first and their adjustment second.
There's a few 'non-negotiables' we work into our training at 360U that may help you, whether you're a coach, parent or athlete, to make sure the reps you're taking are intentional and purposeful.
U-BOOK JOURNALING. We highly encourage you to incorporate journaling into your own training or your team practices. Derived from our own days competing at the highest levels of college softball and baseball, this type of learning and processing is critical to our athletes' retention of their lesson takeaways and findings. Without taking time to START and END a practice or training session with focused, intentional dialogue and reflection to set the stage for your workout, the reps can quickly become meaningless and muddled. Taking the time to simply state and reflect on some type of "Word of the Week/Day/Practice" will focus you/your athletes to be aware of the mental side of the game and to fully integrate it into all parts of your training. Here is also where we reinforce those mechanical 'lightbulb' moments that occur to our athletes during their training. When something clicks or they have an 'ah-ha' moment, we want to fully capture that feeling and ensure they retain it!
BALL PLACEMENT ON TEE. This is a bit more technical, but having your athletes be intentional and disciplined about how they're loading the ball on the tee for themselves AND their teammates is so important. We have our athletes line the ball up on the tee with the "railroad tracks" running up and down from sky to ground facing the catcher. This gives our hitters a visual to keep their hands INSIDE the ball, pulling them towards the lace that is closer to them as they do their drill work (this avoids wrapping, casting, and getting around the ball.) Talk about a simple and very effective technique to bring purpose into every single swing off the tee. Here's a quick video below of Coach Scott explaining the mechanics behind that, but an absolute AWESOME culture-builder to incorporate into your team.
3. GRAB YOUR TABLET/PHONE. Two reasons behind this one.
a. VIDEO REVIEW. Especially for our intermediate to advanced hitters, this is an awesome way to focus your training. Let's shy away from taking 200 reps to say we "got a workout in" and instead let's take 50 thoughtful, quality reps with an awareness of our adjustment and end goal to SEE progress in our workout. All it takes is a 10 second video check-in on your swing to pinpoint that ONE adjustment you're going to be intentional about for that workout.
Are your hands staying quiet? Is your back foot driving through the ball? How does our load look? Is our extension staying through the ball or pulling off? Is our stride consistent each swing? Pick ONE and just check on it throughout your workout.
Even with our youngest hitters we like to introduce video review, primarily for them to articulate their knowledge of the swing and to point out what they're doing RIGHT! Film can expose every weakness, so be very intentional about how you're looking at and reviewing film with yourself or your athletes. Our video review is never designed to point out every flaw or inconsistency, but rather is used to point out what's going great along with ONE focused adjustment for that day. This is very important.
b. MUSIC. Put on your favorite playlist and make your training enjoyable. If you/your team isn't enjoying the majority of their workouts, make sure you work to create a favorable, positive training environment for them! Not all of practice needs to be this way, but some time for athletes to put themselves into a relaxed, focused state is so important for their long-term relationship with the sport. Also very important.
We hope our few very intentional, yet very simple, suggestions can help focus your workouts to be effective, productive and help your hitters improve their mindset AND mechanics every time they pick up their bat!