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How Long Should You Practice the Day Before a Game?

How long to practice before a game - https://flic.kr/p/7H4Xf7 - TheSeason - GameChanger

No matter the sport, one question seemingly invokes a slightly different answer from every coach: How long should practices be the day before a game? For Frisco (Texas) High School softball coach Tiffany Sullivan, the answer is no longer than two hours.

On the day before a game, Sullivan’s team focuses primarily on its game plan for the next day.

“I don’t personally feel you want to have a long practice,” Sullivan said. “We kind of keep it to two hours. To some people that might be a long time. To others that might be short.

“We go in with a game plan the day before. Usually if it’s a district game, we try to use the scouting report, what we know about the team, and we utilize that as much as we can.”

As for the other stuff — the typical in-game situations that don’t necessarily apply to the coming game — Sullivan prefers to work on those throughout the rest of the week.

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During the season, Sullivan’s team plays district games both on Tuesday and Friday each week. After each game, Sullivan tries to focus on areas where the team struggled.

“Of course, softball’s a little different than say, basketball. We look at: This was good, this is what we really need to focus on or this is what we were really clueless on, and we’ll use that. But again, it’s always moving forward to the next opponent.”

Yet while the emphasis might depend on the last or next game, Sullivan's approach to practice is consistent.

“We hit live every single day, and I throw batting practice,” she said. “Fortunately, I’m able to do that. I’m sure it’s tough for coaches that can’t or don’t have the bullpen to do that, but luckily I can, so I go live every day.

“For the last hour, we hit and everything we do is live. They try to score runs. It’s very competitive, it’s kind of up-paced, just getting them ready (for games).”

So if a two-hour practice is best on the day before a game, then what is the preferred length of practice for the other days of the week?

Well, it’s actually not much longer than two hours.

“I would definitely say two and a half is max, definitely,” Sullivan said. “I think sometimes as coaches, we get in our heads that the more time we spend on something, the better they’ll do, but that’s just not the case. I never really have like a set time. If we get everything done, usually that’s it. No more than two and a half for sure.”

Sullivan knows that longer practices are usually the norm, especially with select teams. But even she was taken aback when several of her upperclassmen told her over the summer about eight-hour practices with their select teams.

“What can you possibly do for eight hours?” Sullivan wondered.

From GameChanger and Stephen Hunt.