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Creating a Competitive Environment

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Life is a competition. Students compete to attend certain schools. People compete for jobs. Businesses compete for customers. You must constantly compete in this world or you will find yourself losing out to those who are.

And sports are no different. Athletes compete for spots on a roster, playing time, and college scholarships.

Sports are an incredible learning experience for our youth because they teach us how to compete at a young age.

Not only are you competing against others. But you’re competing against yourself. You’re competing against yesterday’s version of yourself. Can I be better today than I was yesterday?

As human beings, and athletes specifically, we thrive on competition. As soon as a coach says, “lets make this a competition,” our level of focus and attention to detail immediately heightens.

I’ll never forget a story that was told to me by a college coach:

“Every year at the start of the season, I arrange a team meeting in the school gymnasium. The players think it’s to go over team rules or the practice schedule, but I have another plan entirely. I place one ping-pong table in the middle of the room. I enter the room, and start to give a short speech on some basic logistical stuff. After a couple minutes I get a “phone call” which requires me to step out of the room. I tell the team I won’t be back for about an hour and they’ll have to hang around campus until I get back. I step out of the gym, go around the corner where I have a chair set up with a clear view inside the gym. I observe…

This is where I identified the real competitors before even stepping on the field. Because what do the players do every year? They migrate to the ping-pong table. And what do I see while their playing ping-pong? Their level of competitiveness. More often than not, the competitors on the ping-pong table are the competitors on the field.

And why is that?

Competitors compete when no one is watching. Competitors compete when there’s no coach there to pat him on the back. A real competitor knows nothing else but WINNING!”

This story is an extremely powerful illustration of what coaches, employers, and other leaders look for in players, employees, and people.

We want competitors because they find a way to win!

As coaches, we strive to not only create a competitive environment inherent to games, but in practice as well.

How can I make practices more competitive? How can I challenge my players to heighten their competitive nature to bring the best out of their abilities? Almost ANYTHING you do in practice can be turned into a competition.

• Counting how many balls a player hits hard in batting practice with everyone but the winner required to run sprints.
• The player’s who make the least amount of errors during fungos get to avoid cleaning up the field.
• Winners of each sprint get to sit out the next sprint.

Competition heightens focus. Focus heightens quality of practice. And quality practice leads to better performance.

So the question is, how are you creating a competitive environment in practice to increase the development of your players?

Remember, you’re not just coaching players, you’re coaching people!

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About Brian Hamm

My name is Brian Hamm and I am all about "Baseball Development". Through my journey as a high school and college player, I always felt that a competitive advantage eluded me. I constantly researched and discovered new resources, ideas, and theories that have shaped how I coach today. It’s my goal to work relentlessly in order to give my players, clients, and coaches the biggest competitive advantage that will allow them to reach their full potential. My mission is to spread my knowledge to baseball players around the world and help change the developmental process forever.

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