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I did some searching and did not find anything on this.

My son cannot raise his level of play in practice like he does in a game. This cost him a considerable amount of lost playing time last year as a pitcher. It was only after they put him in a game where they were getting clobbered and he shut down the other team that the coaches realized they had a pitcher that they could count on. He went on to be one of their starters for the rest of the season.

Fortunately, it is not an issue this year for pitching (yes, he still is not as good in practice as in a game), but it is still an issue with hitting which directly affects playing time for his other position.

Any ideas on how to raise the practice level? I'm useless because I had the same problem when I played competitive tennis. It isn't necessarily an intensity thing but dialing in for a game situation is so different than scrimmaging your own team.

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Originally posted by VaRHPmom: is still an issue with hitting which directly affects playing time for his other position.

Any ideas on how to raise the practice level? Thanks!

Now that it has cost him playing time, he should be better able to thinking of his practice opportunities as a real live competition. And it is. Right now, he is losing and therefore not playing.
I know that I am perhaps over-simplifying but sometimes it takes being pushed to take practice more seriously.
It's not that he is not serious about practice (in fact, complains about others who goof off). He is looking forward to college where (he thinks) everyone will be more serious about playing ball and getting better.

It's really hard to explain, but like I said, I went through it too. There is something about real competition that just brings up a different intensity level. Some people collapse under it and others rise to it.

I've told him to try to create a competition within himself to dial up the intensity. Like with hitting, create game situations in his head instead of just taking batting practice. But I was hoping that someone else may have had a similar problem and found a way to fix it.

I'll also tell him what you said about thinking of the practices as competition -- for playing time. While it is a team sport, he is also in competition with his teammates. I know that he is aware of that, but he may have to change the way he thinks about "practice".

I have this problem when we play the bushers, I don't give the same effort as I would with stronger competition. I need a little pressure to perform accordingly to my abilities as I concentrate and play better. In practice I always take it serious as it is where you get better. But yeah, strong competition usually gives you that little umph, but triumph starts with try, so you gotta give it 110% day in and day out.

It sounds like pressure is the trigger here. The issue of performing during a game and not during practice is a common one, and the concept of the fix is easy but the commitment to habitually train the mind into performing under different circumstances is not. Have him find reasons of why he must get better and have him write them down, and read them before every practice. This will force him to have purpose during practice.




My son has the same issue. Once he went to play summer ball in NY and they looked at him and didn't think much about his bullpen, but when the first game came around and he struck out all 3 in the 9th (he's a closer) they were like, Wow, how often can you throw? Can you throw every night? The adrenaline just kicks in during the game. A bullpen is for warming up and stretching to him. Games are just different. He's had a great college career.

This is far from rare, especially at the high school level.  First of all, it falls on coaches to design a program and practice structure that challenges and motivates the kids. However, this is obviously easier said than done, especially with the limited amount of time and coaching help that's present at most high schools. 


So when it's not coming from the program, it must come from the player.  This is a good lesson for players at every level though, and should be viewed as a learning opportunity.  A player must be able to find motivation and inspiration from within himself to succeed. 


If you rely on teammates, parents, fans,'ll be inconsistent at best.  Great players do not ride the tide of the situation, they stay consistently high level all the time.  They cannot be distracted by other's shortcomings because they are competing against themselves.  Testing themselves and measuring their performance against their last time out.


Sounds good, but it can be hard.  It's a real key to being a high level player, so you should expect it to be hard, and you should expect to have to dedicate a serious effort to it in order to get better at it.


One of the best things you can do is to set goals.  Write them down and keep them to yourself.  Even if your team has goals or your coach has some goals, keep some that are just for you.  Small ones, big ones, extremely tough and not so tough.  Keep a good mixture so that you can always be challenged to beat your last personal best but also you're not stuck reaching for something that's unrealistic.  Constant accomplishment, confidence, and getting better.


Honestly if getting better at baseball and taking concrete steps to improve yourself don't motivate you on the field, you probably don't have a long future in the game as a player anyway.  However this can be learned, and it can be developed. 


Learn to test yourself, and if you get good at it, you may up inspiring yourself.  Once you can do that, you're in good shape whether you're practicing or playing in a game.

A bit off topic but I find the opposite is true too meaning I have kids who in practice look like mashers and play makers but then in a game, they don't perform at that same level I perceived in practice.  It makes for some early season lineup and defensive changes once we see how their practice skills translate to game situations.

Good addition Wolf, certainly different but directly related.  I think both are prevalent and both can be addressed.  The first step is identifying the cause.


Often the previous issue is caused by a lack of proper motivational mechanisms in either the program or the kid.  


The issue you bring up can be caused by a multitude of factors, one of the primary causes is mental toughness.  


I've also seen kids that just "over hype" themselves for games and baseball is not well suited for that.


I won't say much on this since it isn't directly on topic, but the one thing I would say to coaches is that if you're experiencing this a lot, you may indeed be a major cause yourself.  A lot of coaches are relaxed and instructional in practice and then nervous and reactionary in games.


Never underestimate your own impact on the mentality of the team, or individuals on it. 



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