By: Bob McCreary
Provided by: Baseball By The Yard
I'm not a fan of marathon baseball practices. Occasionally, a two-hour practice may be needed but usually 90 minutes has been my limit for practice time from the youth levels on up to high school. It takes a lot of pre-planning but if a coach organizes things efficiently, 90 minutes is all you need. (Note: For help with timing and planning, check out my age-level appropriate practice templates by clicking HERE.)
One way to trim down practice time is to "kill three birds at a time" so to speak. Pre-practice warm-ups is a great example.
To maximize your team's warm-up routine, be sure to include all three of these components:
Warm the body up. Of course, the purpose of pre-practice or pre-game warm-ups is to get the body warm and loose to allow for peak performance and to reduce the chance of injury.
Use baseball movements. I grew up with mostly "static" stretching like bending over and touching your toes and pulling your arm across your chest. Research shows that these "static" type stretches are not very effective and may even increase the chance of injury. Watch professional athletes warm-up with their trainers and you will see lots of "dynamic" style warm-ups that involve moving the body in ways similar to how it will have to perform during competition. Short sprints, squatting, shuffling, arm circles, trunk twists, hip flexor work, and quick feet movements like "karaoke" drills all involve movements our players will need to do on the baseball field.
Warming up the body while using baseball-related movements kills two birds with one stone. However, you can add a third by doing the following:
Add skill work. Coaches always struggle to find enough time to add all the skill work that needs to be addressed during practices. Along with wasted time, this tends to be a big reason for long, drawn out practices. Take care of some of it during your warm-up routine and you can trim down those marathon practices.
Here are six ways skill work can be added to your warm-up routines.
Each of these drills involve several little things that improve the skill of your players. Instead of organizing a specific drill for them later in your practices, add them to your warm-up routines and start trimming some time.