You Play Like You Practice

By: Coach Flint Wallace

In pressure situations, you will always revert back to your level of preparation. Let me explain what I mean… We have all heard the term, “he is a gamer” or “he is clutch” or “he rises to the occasion”. I believe most people think that this is some kind of inherited trait or something to that effect. I beg to differ, I believe in stressful situations, everyone’s performance drops from their very peak ability. How much drop, highly depends on your level of preparation and how you train.

I believe the great “clutch” performers of all time, no matter what the sport or activity, were not necessarily blessed with more talent, they simply were better prepared for the situation. They had practiced longer, harder, and smarter than most. They had done more precise repetitions, or trained in a more stressful environment, or had practiced much more difficult activities than they would face in competition or in their performance.

Doing more precision reps reminds me of a quote from Bruce Lee, “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” He knew in a match or in a fight, that person who had practiced that kick 10,000 times would be able to perform it at his optimal ability every time. There would be no thinking about how to do the kick, so the focus would be on external factors, not the movement.

Training in a more stressful environment is exactly how the most elite performers I can think of, the US Navy SEALs, train. The training they go through is absolutely astonishing. They are always in a stressed situation; whether it is from physical fatigue or chaos induced scenarios. Their training is the most difficult physical and more importantly, mentally challenging. So, when the chips are down, they can perform at an extremely high level, while most others go into panic mode.

Making practice or training more difficult than the game is how Steph Curry goes about his training. Just look up “Steph Curry’s Pre-Game Routine,” if you have not seen it before to get an idea of what I am referring to. He is making his skill level be more advance than he will need in the game. So come game time when his peak performance drops some, it is still at a higher level than most, or all, of his opponents.

Make sure you practice and train at a level that is more demanding than the game. Practice your drills often and precisely with intent so that you will revert to that movement pattern come pressure time. Make a portion of your training be in a chaotic situation. This may be starting innings during scrimmages or inter-squads with runners in scoring position or bases loaded with no outs. Try playing loud crowd noise during your bullpen session. Or run a couple of sprints, then step on the mound and throw a simulated hitter with an elevated heart rate. Then a small part, about 10%, of each training or practice session should be designed for you to fail or really have to grow in your development to succeed. Basically, make this portion be slightly beyond your present capabilities. Reduce the size of the strike zone, throw on different slopes and angles, or throw at different distances.

 If you would like to know how to step up your training, join us here at the Texas Baseball Ranch this summer for one of our Elite Pitcher’s Boot Camps, or come spend a couple of weeks, or even a couple of months, with us at our Summer Program. For more information on these events, go to http://www.texasbaseballranch.com/events/.

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