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One Man's Plans:
See Where They Land
By MIKE CANDREA
Head Coach, University of Arizona


Here are a few guidelines to prepare your team and make sure everyone is game-ready by the February opener. The very first concept is to work backwards from the first date of competition as you plan practice schedules. This will give an idea of how much time you have to accomplish the various skills on the checklist. By the first game, you want to make sure pitchers are game-ready, hitters have seen enough live batting practice and defense is properly prepared to execute the fundamentals to get someone out. I feel it is very important to list in writing the individual and team skills you feel are important, and that you have a written plan as to the progression of skill development. The following breakdown maps out the weeks prior to an opener in order to cover the essential team and individual skills. I hope this checklist can be a valuable tool for you when you begin preparing for the upcoming season.

First, some thoughts on practice format...I believe the fall is when the majority of our teaching is accomplished. This is a time to make any mechanical changes with our athletes, because we do not need to worry about competition. Fall practices are more oriented toward individual skill development versus team play. Many of you do not have this luxury, and this can be a real challenge in teaching mechanics while trying to compete.

Fall Practice Priorities

Conditioning, Strength, Speed Enhancement, Individual Agility Skills, Basic Fundamentals (bring players back to the basics, whether they need it or not!), Defensive Fundamentals, Offensive Fundamentals, Introduction of Team Defense and Offense, Mental Skills)


Time Breakdown:
Conditioning 25%
Individual Skills 50%
Mental Skills 25%

Spring Practice Priorities

Conditioning: Make sure drills are more sport specific (short sprints, baserunning, etc.).

Individual skills: Review basic fundamentals each week and begin building confidence in each phase of each player's game.

Team Skills: Incorporate daily work on team defense and offense.

Mental Skills: Daily work should focus on the biggest challenges for both coach and athlete.

Time Breakdown:
Individual Skills 20% (skills must be maintained through individual work before and after practice)
Team Skills 40%
Mental Skills 40% (practice during the season must assure the athletes' proper mental state to perform at their highest level. Many mental factors will become more important as competition is increased along with the opportunity to succeed or fail).

Fundamental Checklist (Team)

Offense

1)
Signs

2) Hitting Situations
A. Receiving Signals
B. Taking a Pitch
C. Dropped Third Strike
D. Hit and Run
E. On-Deck Responsibilities

3) Short-Game Situations
A. Sacrifice
B. Push Bunt
C. Slap Bunt
D. Fake BuntHit
E. Squeeze (Safety/Suicide)
F. Fake BuntSteal
G. Base-Hit Bunt

4) Baserunning
A. Philosophy
B. Basic Running Principles
C. Leads at First: Steal, Bunt, Slap-and-Run or Hit-and-Run
D. Leads at Second and Third: Ground-Ball Situations and Fly-Ball Situations
E. First and Third Situations
F. Rundowns
G. Special Plays

5) Rules

Defense

1) Defensive Signs
 A. Types of Pitch
 B. First and Third Situations
 C. Defensive Alignment

2) Bunt Defense
3) First and Third Defense
4) Cut-Offs and Relays
5) Back-Up Responsibilities
6) Pick-Offs
7) Rundowns
8) Pop-Up Communication
9) Appeal Play
10) Receiving Throws

As everyone comes together in January to prepare for the season opener, priorities change to some degree with more emphasis placed on bringing team skills together and building confidence in every phase of individual skills (pitching, hitting, baserunning, short game, etc.)





 
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