A player’s intensity can be a great asset to his performance, a player that is able to perform at a higher intensity mentally as well as physically will excel at any skill he performs. But, how can we challenge the intensity to increase performance. I continue to explore new ways to challenge my athletes to increase their intensity, and consistency. Many players don’t understand how to keep intensity at a high level. They have been trained over time to just give enough to get by, if they only need to take 10 grounders a day to make the team then that is good enough. This can be very frustrating to me at times; I don’t understand how you can dream of playing a game at a high level and only do what is needed to get by. How can a player not want to be the best, or able to reach their full potential? I am not saying every player will go pro or has the potential to play pro ball, but, I have seen many players that through a lack of focus and intensity let the world pass them by. I have been working on a few aids that have had great success in helping many of my players find the intensity and consistency of intensity to raise their game to new levels. The ideas are simple, but can lay out a plan that can focus a ball players day to day routine.
1ST- We start to track the players practice schedule
-hitting, fielding, throwing.
This allows the player to see how much work is actually being done, the first time the player does this they will usually be surprised at the little they actually did at practice. Many players will say I put in 21/2 hours at practice that should be enough, but how much work did they actually get, 25 swings, 15 grounders, and couple base steeling opportunities.
2nd- Determine a plan of action to increase the players actual individual work time.
Set a day to day schedule on extra tee hitting drills, hitting off the curve ball machine, taking back hands, ect. The key is to start slow, just a few drills every night or every other night. Many times after the practice tracking reveals to the player the lack of work they have been doing they will be highly motivated to do extra work, but if they are overloaded, they set themselves up for failure. If the work load is too great the player will soon be stressed by the extra time commitment and will usually discontinue the activities. Remember to start slow and as progress is made it will be easy for the player to make adjustments and increase work load.
3rd- Keep track of the performance changes.
In many cases the player’s numbers will increase in just a few weeks, but the player will also start to exude more confidence and playing potential. The tracking of these changes can be an extra motivator to the player when tough times come, like a hitting slump. By reminding the player of the time committed to their performance and increased intensity the player can gain confidence and will themselves out of tough times.
Now this is not the only way to increase a player’s intensity, but just one of many. The goal is to increase performance and developing a plan and tracking progress increases the player’s ability to have a hands on experience, which in turn increases the success of the program. The first step is the decision to bring your game to a new level, it is hard work and sacrifice after that, in my opinion the fun part of the development process.
Brian Niswender, MA, CSCS