Whether in school halls or at the dinner table, athletes sometimes grumble about practice.
They often can be tiresome and repetitive, which is why an underrated component for coaches is to keep practices interesting and fun to not only make athletes look forward to practice each day, but to also develop their skills and competitiveness.
Don Peters has been a high school and travel softball coach in Michigan for over 30 years, winning a state title and nearly 600 games.
He knows full well how important it is to keep practices fun and entertaining for players, and offers tips on how to do exactly that while at the same time making them better players and competitors.
Below are a few practice tips Peters does with his team to achieve all of the above at the same time.
- One is a game Peters calls “Bucket Ball,” where two sets of three buckets are set up on top of each other.
“We have a group of girls on one side and a group on another,” Peters said. “We have a tee about 20 feet away. What we are trying to teach them is to stay on the ball as long as possible. What we have them to do is compete against each other to see who can hit the buckets five times, let’s say. The first group that does that watches the other do a few push-ups. They love that. They ask me to do that all the time.”
- Another activity Peters likes to do in practice is an infield defense game called “Survivor,” which is a softball version of the popular reality TV show.
“We have T-shirts made up and we give them different colors depending on how many times they have won,” Peters said. “They can get a gold one, a blue one or a (camouflage) one. What we do is we hit ground balls. If they miss they are out. If they make a bad throw or if they don’t field it cleanly they are out. The last one is the survivor. That’s another one where they are mad if we don’t do it.”
- Another activity is a throwing contest that is similar to the bucket game.
“We come up with a target, which could be a bucket, that we set up about 40 or 50 feet and put them in groups,” Peters said. “The group that hits the target 10 times (wins).”
- As many teams do, Peters said his team also comes up with baserunning games as well to help the girls further develop that underrated aspect of the game.
“We have races, and I think everybody does this, where we have one group on second and one group at home and you have them race around.”
- Finally, Peters said his team conducts home-run derbies and competitions where you have to hit the ball where it is pitched or else everybody runs, a drill that helps the girls focus on making contact in situations where it is absolutely necessary to do so.
By Keith Dunlap
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