We have all heard the term, “Practice makes perfect.” Well, not exactly; especially where baseball is concerned. What other game do you know of in which players are considered highly skilled when they get a base hit an average of only three out ten at-bats? In baseball, failure is simply part of the game. Such is the difficulty level of the sport that is known as America’s National Pastime.
While the idea of perfection in baseball may be a myth, achieving excellence is, indeed, possible. A good quote for any aspiring baseball player to commit to memory is actually credited to the legendary football coach, Vince Lombardi. He stated, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” This quote applies perfectly to playing the game of baseball.
So You Want To Play This Game Well?
Baseball is certainly a sport that anyone can enjoy. The drama and excitement of the game is mesmerizing, and the strategy involved in trying to win a game makes it a great spectator sport that millions of fans flock to each year. However, if you want to get out of the grandstands and actually play the game skillfully on the field, it will require a commitment to hard work, perseverance, and continuous repetition in practicing the basic skills of the game. If you are a baseball player who wants to improve your game, advance to the next level of play, and develop your skills to their fullest potential, a commitment to a consistent, disciplined, and focused practice regimen is a must.
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Compelling Reasons To Practice
Why, exactly, is baseball practice is so important for an aspiring player? For that matter, why can’t a team simply show up to the field on game day, and play as well as they performed a week ago without continuing to review and practice the fundamentals of the game? Here are several important reasons to engage in regularly scheduled baseball practice sessions:
1. Mechanics – Hitting and throwing may appear easy and effortless when you watch the motions, but learning to do them correctly is an entirely different matter. Learning the correct mechanical motions of hitting and throwing, to the extent that they are done correctly and appear very natural, requires continual repetition of the motions until they become automatic and fluid, with effective follow-through.
2. Bat Speed and Timing – One of the most difficult things in the world is to use a round bat to hit a round ball moving at a high rate of speed. Effective hitting requires correct timing of the swing, combined with moving the bat through the strike zone at a speed and an angle that allows the batter to make solid contact with the baseball. This requires repetition after repetition of one’s swing in regular batting practice sessions.
3. Ability To Hit a Variety of Pitches – The great basketball player, Michael Jordan, retired from basketball to attempt a professional baseball career. He encountered a measure of success playing for a minor league team, and became proficient at hitting a fastball, but he struggled with effectively hitting a curveball. The primary reason? He simply had not logged enough time at facing the curve because he had not played baseball for most of his adult life. This example points to the reality that there is no substitute for practice time spent learning how to hit various types of pitches.
5. Effective Fielding Skills – Former Yankee second baseman, Bobby Richardson, said that as a child he would practice fielding dozens of ground balls in a row perfectly, and if he made an error, he would begin the count all over again. Whether the position player is fielding ground balls or catching fly balls in the outfield, repetitive practice of these skills is essential in order to learn to develop and follow the correct initial instinct when fielding the ball in a game situation. For example, staying low and watching a ground ball all the way into the glove, or getting properly aligned to catch a fly ball are skills that must be developed with repeated practice until they become automatic habits.
6. Team Function As a Unit On The Field – Whether it is turning a double play, covering infield positions when there is a bunt, properly executing a hit and run, double steal, or a squeeze bunt; baseball is a team sport that requires much team practice in order to implement strategies with precision. It truly takes all nine players working together as a finely tuned machine to play winning baseball.
While possessing natural ability is a very important indicator of how successful one may eventually become in playing the game of baseball, there really is no substitute for developing one’s skills through repeated practice sessions. Many a coach has said that they would rather have a player with average ability who is willing to work hard than have a player gifted with much natural ability who is not willing to work hard.
Whether you play baseball in Little League, high school, summer league, college, or amateur adult league – keep practicing hard. It is the key to success!