It’s game-time and you’re reading out today’s starting lineup…you dread it & your players hate it. Discover a better way that will improve your practices AND eliminate any shock and surprise!
You might email out the starting lineup the night before a game, but you’re rare. Most of us read it out just prior to game-time which creates tension, disappointment and often chaos. Avoid all that with a totally new approach!
Believe me, it’s tough seeing an old thing in a new way. Let’s take something as simple and crucial to a game as the lineup. No matter whether you’re old-school and read it out minutes before game-time or you’ve gone high-tech and email it out the night before…you’re still doing basically the same thing. And that’s tying the lineup in with the game. Who gets to start and who doesn’t, who gets to play and who doesn’t, and if you’re starting – where you’re hitting in the lineup is all tied around the actual game.
And yet, how many of you believe that your players earn that lineup spot through practice? We often tell disgruntled parents that they should come to practice and watch how their daughter plays in practice. Or we reward a great week of practice with a spot in the lineup. And yet, because of the time-gap between when practice is held and when players actually hear/read the lineup announced, practices and games seem very disconnected.
Well here’s a brilliant new idea I learned from my good friend Rhonda Revelle, head coach at the University of Nebraska. This idea will help tie practice performance in with game time, and will also improve each of your player’s effort, desire and actual performance in practice. Create a starting lineup after every single practice. Then post it or announce it prior to the next practice exactly like you would before a game.
A couple things to keep in mind when making out your lineup:
- The lineup needs to be real. You need to make it out as if you actually had a game that next day.
- It needs to be position-specific instead of just your best 9 practice players who might all play SS. Fighting for a position is part of cracking into the lineup, so that element needs to exist in this concept.
- Just because you aren’t starting on today’s lineup doesn’t mean you aren’t doing every drill at your fullest capacity. Unlike games, just because your name isn’t on the lineup doesn’t mean you aren’t fielding or hitting or pitching or throwing today!
With those thoughts in mind, here are 3 reasons to seriously consider posting it before every single practice:
- We All Matter, but We’re Not All Equal – Nothing says this more than reading out the lineup. We can preach “family” and “everybody matters” all we want, but as soon as the lineup is announced, it’s clear who matters more. Creating a lineup after every practice and then reading or posting it before the next practice gets every player used to hearing or not hearing their name, and realizing that we’re not all created equal. Those that can perform in a high-pressure competitive environment get to play, and play more and those that don’t…don’t. You want to play more – then you’ve got to practice at a higher level more consistently.
- If You Don’t Like It, then Change It – Once that game-time lineup is read and you don’t hear your name, or you hear it in a spot in the lineup you’re not happy with you can sulk around, or you can Do Your Job! You can’t really change it once the game comes (especially if you’re not in the lineup). But when that disappointing lineup precedes a practice you can totally work your butt off to change it! That’s the great thing about this concept – if you don’t like it, then change it!
- Practice Matters! – Of all the benefits from posting your lineup each day before practice, to me, this one is the biggest of all. It creates an environment that every practice really does matter. Now, that ball you didn’t feel like diving for could keep you off tomorrow’s lineup. Or that bunt you take seriously and actually get down might get you into the lineup. It ALL matters! You’ll notice more things in practice and they’ll better understand how important every effort and every play is…instead of just hearing the same lecture over and over.
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