Have you ever been labeled as a “practice player” or a “game player”? The difference between the two are simple. A “practice player” is someone who does extremely well in practice but can not carry it over to the game, where as a “game player” is someone who performs mediocre in practice but excels in a game. Why does this happen? Easy to answer, hard to fix!
Players who shine during practice but not in games usually have the problem of self image and confidence. Practice is a very comfortable atmosphere where there are more knowns than unknowns. That comfort breeds confidence and better play. In a game, where all the situations are different and the competition are a mystery, poor self image and doubt control the situation. It also has a tendency to snowball. What is snowballing? No, not actually throwing snowballs, but when a player is cruising during a game then makes an error, whether mental or physical, and lets it affect the next play and the next play, and all of a sudden the game becomes out of control. As a coach you have to be very careful how you handle this situation. Once he or she starts believing they can’t do it, they can spiral downwards and never become an effective player.
But what about those players that don’t perform at practice? There a two reasons that come into play for this situation. One being that the player doesn’t feel challenged enough during practice so they “coast” through. Never giving 100% and just goes through the motions. Another reason is that these players only know one speed and that is game mode. You have more thinking involved during practices then you normally do in a game, and certain players do not know how to separate the two.
The best advice on how to carry your practice performance over to the game is to RELAX! Practice makes permanent! To quote legendary softball coach, Sue Enquist, “It’s 60 feet and turn left.” Nice and simple and to the point. You need to have confidence in your work ethic and believe in your practice skills. If you can do those two things, the right player will show up the day of the game. If you still have problems of carrying it over, you should start doing visualization drills. Start visualizing yourself in a game making all the correct plays, hitting certain pitches, getting key hits, striking batters out. Try to visualize every single detail from the way the grass smells to how the dirt feels. The more detailed you are the more confident you will feel.
For those of you who coast through practice and just rely purely on your talent, believe me when I say it will catch up to you soon! Start taking pride in your work ethic and be a leader for the team through example. You might be able to get away with it now, but when you get to that next level you will have to work harder and you may not know how to do that. So start now before it’s too late! For those of you who struggle during practices, don’t be too hard on yourself. Practice is where you can make a few mistakes and learn from them. Key words there being, LEARN FROM THEM. Don’t ever snowball at practice. Take a step back and remember why you are practicing; to get better at an issue you struggle with and to perfect something new. Like I said earlier, practice makes permanent, so take a deep breath and have some fun!
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About USSSA Florida Pride:
The USSSA Florida Pride is a professional franchise in the National Pro Fastpitch League that is owned and operated by USSSA. The amateur organization of USSSA has multi-sport coverage and encompasses teams and players from the United States and abroad.
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball since 2002.
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