I received a really good idea in an e-mail a few days ago that I wanted to incorporate every few weeks or so into my blog. The idea was to give some tips to young players to help them improve their skills as baseball players. I am really excited about this idea because one thing I love to do in the off-season is give baseball lessons to younger players. I have always loved coaching, and when my career is one day over I will definitely give back to the game by passing on any knowledge I may have by coaching younger players.
I have been very fortunate so far in my young career to be coached by some great baseball minds. I have learned a lot over the years so I am excited to share some of the things I have learned to kids around the country. I figured the first thing I could talk about was practice because we have all heard thousands of times since we were little kids, "practice makes perfect."
I think younger players would be very surprised if they saw the amount of time and energy Major League players put into practice. One of the most important things I could pass on to little league, high school, and college players is how to approach your practice time. Every player's goal is continue to get better and improve their game. There are many different ways you can get better as a player, but the main way you get better is by practicing. What you put into your practice is what you are going to get out of it. Every time you practice, whether it is in your basement by yourself, a winter workout with your AAU team, Spring Training, or during the season, you should be doing something to get better. You must have a purpose behind everything you are doing, be it hitting, fielding, defense, or base running. Have a game plan before you arrive at practice. Pick something specific that you want to work on before you get to practice and really focus on that one thing during your drill work. Think of it as "planning the work, then working the plan." A lot of times players show up for practice and put their minds on "cruise control" just going through the motions until the practice is over. Remember, when it comes to your skills as a player you never stay the same, you either get better or you get worse, and the choice is up to you. Never forget the words of John Wooden, one of the greatest coaches to ever live, "Failure to prepare is preparing to fail."