A SCRIMMAGE DELIGHT
Coaches, do you want to double your team’s practice productivity with one move? This move I speak of is known in the sports world as an INTRA-SQUAD game, a Team A vs. Team A scrimmage. INTRA-SQUAD scrimmages may be the most undervalued practice modality in the baseball coaching world.
There is a huge competitive advantage for baseball teams that set up Team A vs. Team A practice scrimmages, simply because most teams elect to scrimmage other teams. While other teams are giving up half of their precious practice time to another team, simply set up a well-paced, efficient, INTRA-SQUAD practice game and you'll at least double your team’s valuable practice reps.
Now, if you’ve seen the baseball classic “The Sandlot” you’ve seen a team INTRA-SQUAD their way to beating its cross-town rivals, and therefore, you’ve also seen Benny ‘The Jet’ Rodriguez use those very same INTRA-SQUAD games as a stepping stone to stealing home at Dodger Stadium.
SHARING IS LESS PRODUCTIVE
Let’s get hypothetical for a moment. Most of you reading this article are not full-time coaches, and you have a job in another industry. Imagine implementing a policy with your employees or with your co-workers that required them to share a necessary job tool, such as a computer, with another person, and without the use of that computer, no work would get done. The math becomes simple, equaling a halving of your company’s productivity. Why have 1/2 your team on the bench when they could simply be on another computer? Why only be on offense when your team could be on offense and defense at the same time?
In sports, a team’s productivity at practice is directly correlated to the number of quality repetitions they complete. Don’t be so quick to voluntarily split those precious practice at-bats, pitches, ground-balls, fly-balls, and base-running opportunities with another team. Sharing those precious reps is what most teams elect to do by playing a Team A vs. Team B scrimmage. This article will discuss the massive benefits teams lose by scrimmaging other teams rather than setting up an INTRA-SQUAD game.
NOTHING NEW, JUST UNDERUSED
Both the term ‘INTRA-SQUAD’ and the use of INTRA-SQUAD games have been around for a long time in the sports world. However, I believe today’s collective coaching world greatly undervalues and largely underuses the scrimmage format known as an ‘INTRA-SQUAD’ game.
The more common scrimmage type is known as an inter-squad scrimmage, in which two different teams play against each other, Team A vs. Team B. While the inter-squad format does have a few pluses, the INTRA-SQUAD scrimmage not only automatically doubles your team’s ROI but also gives you full control of the scrimmage. With double the reps and full control to orchestrate the scrimmage to best fit your team's needs, your team's skills can grow exponentially.
TWICE THE REPS
As we discussed, inherently, an INTRA-SQUAD game facilitates, at a minimum, twice the amount of repetitions than that of a conventional inter-squad scrimmage. Your team is not sharing the practice time with another team. Your team is not splitting the at-bats, the ground balls, the pop-ups, etc. with another team.
Here’s another way of looking at it: A 1-hour INTRA-SQUAD game will, on average, give your team the same amount of game experiences and reps as a 2-hour inter-squad scrimmage.
Now, let’s say that your team wants to INTRA-SQUAD scrimmage for 2 hours. Well, then, your team will net the same amount of game repetitions as that of a conventional 4-hour Team A vs. Team B scrimmage. This simple change in your scheduling will net you an instant 100% increase in your team’s training reps.
Furthermore, by using INTRA-SQUAD games, you and your coaching staff will have complete control over the game environment and, therefore, you can set up the game in a manner that best fits your team’s needs. Remember, your practice time should be used to maximize your team's improvement. Save the sharing for the official games, in which you have no choice but to play another team.
Practice games with one team playing against a different team have become, for many coaches, the default scrimmage type, but don’t be in such a hurry to schedule those scrimmages versus other teams. Team A vs. Team B scrimmages are widespread, but INTRA-SQUAD scrimmages are a much more efficient and effective way to spend your valuable training time.
THANKS, BUT NO THANKS
Other coaches will likely try to set up scrimmages with you; politely say no. It may even be the norm in your area for teams to join a fall league or a winter league, simply pass. Like all of us, the late Steve Jobs may have had some flaws, but because he thought differently about the right things, Apple's ideas and processes have since been copied by a plethora of other companies. With that in mind, trust me on this and think differently about scrimmages. Don’t just blindly follow the herd. Think Team A vs. Team A.
Lastly, some coaches may think their team will have more fun playing against opposing teams, but my three-plus decades of baseball tell a different story. A well-structured and well-paced INTRA-SQUAD game will provide a platform for an abundance of fun times. With full control of the game, you can raise the level of fun as you see fit, and nothing is less fun than scrimmaging another team that calls numerous unnecessary timeouts to chat about who knows what or, worse, plays at an overall slow pace.
The undervaluing and underuse of INTRA-SQUAD games provide a substantial competitive advantage for the coaches that do plan INTRA-SQUAD games in lieu of the more popular inter-squad game. Moreover, if the INTRA-SQUAD scrimmages are conducted optimally, the competitive advantage will be significant.
By: COACH BO
Photo Credit: Neonbrand (Unsplash)
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