Varying Time Between Practice Rallies to Develop Competitive Skill…

Typically, when players miss a ball during practice, they tend to feed the next ball in quite quickly (generally a couple of secs) without intentionally refocusing before the start of the rally.

When players do this, however, they miss out on a great opportunity to develop basic competitive skills.

Here are 2 activities I complete with players regularly to help them practice intentionally refocusing and committing to a helpful process for each new rally (you can also see me explain and complete the activities with USC freshman Jack Jaede in the video above where he is completing the ‘calling the attention’ activity I showed you in an earlier video post…)

Activity 1: 5 Secs Between Rallies

When players miss a ball they must take approximately 5 secs before they are allowed to feed the next ball

Players are instructed to use this time to ensure that they are explicitly focused and committed to a helpful process before starting the next rally.

The Benefit: Although players actually hit less balls during a session, they will actually hit more with quality during the same amount of time.

Additionally, this activity helps players partially practice their discrete point-by-point routine within a rally environment, which is incredibly valuable for overall mental toughness.

Activity 2: 0 Secs Between Rallies

As an extension to this activity I also sometimes choose to challenge a player’s ability further…

To do this I tell them that when someone misses I am going to feed the next ball immediately with the goal being for the player to refocus on their helpful process  immediately a point finishes (rather than getting caught up in difficult internal experiences such as frustration).

The Benefit: This activity powerfully develops a player’s skill in noticing the difference between being caught up in difficult internal experiences such as frustration or refocused on a helpful present moment target for the next rally…

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