Purposeful Practice

By Samantha Parrish – 

I assume by now you understand the importance of practicing significantly more than you play.  I wanted to break that down even further with you and discuss the difference between practice and purposeful practice, as well as how to start morphing your sessions into the latter.


“You cannot just show up and get the results that you want anymore than you sit in your garage and make a car appear by wishing for it.”


The first set to creating a purposeful practice is to have an accurate and in depth goal. Do you have SMART goals for each and every practice?  Remember SMART goals are:






Time- Based


I believe that most players have a goal in their heads, but unfortunately that goal is so many steps ahead that they get frustrated and lose motivation.  Let’s break down a goal and see how we can turn that into purposeful practice.


Long Term Goal: I want to play in the MLB (This is often where kids are told to be realistic- I think a more suitable response is “ok- how? What’s your plan?”).  See the problem with this is that it can be years out for many players and without checkpoints along the way, you can feel like you are making no progress.  Coach Wolforth often refers to getting 12% better in a year. 12% is huge!  But break that down and it is .033% a day- it’s easy to get discouraged if you are trying to see progress from one day to the next when it’s less than 1%. So break down the overall goal.


I want to play in the MLB- to do that I am going to need to consistently throw 92mph with 66% strikes of my fastball and secondary pitches.  This is better but still not helpful at creating a plan.


At the Ranch, we say, “You cannot get to where you want to be unless you first know where you are.”  You have to have an accurate measurement of where you currently are – if you are throwing 80mph with 75% strikes, your plan would look very different from someone who is 90mph and 40% strikes.  Once you know where you are, you can start to build the bridge to where you’d like to be.


Now back to practice- if strikes are your problem then everything you do while throwing should have a command component.  Ex: “Before I can move on from fastballs in this drill, I need to have at least 6 out of 10 balls hit my target”.  Can you see how that intent makes a huge difference in your practice?  Spoiler Alert- with the previous situation there may be some days where you don’t get to move on.  We all know that some practices are awesome, some are a struggle, but you keep pressing.


Create check points on your goals.  If you start at 80, celebrate 85- that’s awesome!  If we keep our goals unrealistic, we will get frustrated and burned out.


I don’t much like the saying, “Work Smarter not harder”. Our Ranch Hands have adapted their own version, “Work Smarter and Harder”.  Put some planning and thought into your goal setting and your practices, and keep pressing.


– – – – – – – – – – –


At our Elite Pitcher’s Boot Camps, we take every player through an individual assessment to help you figure out exactly where you are on your journey. Each player then leaves camp with a 21-day plan to start bridging the gap to their goals.  If you would like to be assessed by our coaching staff this winter we have just added 6 new fall/ winter dates including Alumni and Youth events. Go to www.texasbaseballranch.com/events for more information.


Previous post:

Next post: