Make the Makeable Plays

It seemed every time our baseball team lost a game, whether by one run or five, we’d huddle up at the end of the game, and Coach Brian would begin with saying “you have to have short memories,” and end with saying, “make the makeable plays.”

Sometimes at the moment when our team was in the huddle, reflecting on the most difficult part of the game, Coach Brian would point to Coach Jack to cue him to say, “make the makeable plays,” as if Coach Jack was so used to repeating it. It was like clockwork, almost every game, almost every tournament, almost every weekend in which we lost a game. The saying of “make the makeable plays” would be a part of the post-game speech. It wasn’t until I had heard them say the phrase for years that I truly understood what it meant…

  • Ground ball through the legs? That was a makeable play.
  • Dropped pick at first? That was a makeable play.
  • Ball thrown over the shortstop’s head while trying to turn two? That was a makeable play.
  • Hit the cut off? That was a makeable play.

The largest factors to winning each and every game are every small play, catch, throw or positioning decision. Think about the times your team lost a game. Each play and each player makes a difference every time the ball finds them. I always thought about what I would do when the ball found me.

You’re probably thinking that it’s obvious that the large, missed plays lose a baseball game, but think about it. Even the small plays can lead to a domino-effect of mistakes and lost momentum. One dropped pop-up might get the ball rolling in the wrong direction. One mistake might lead to another mistake, leading to more missed defensive opportunities and long innings. The last thing you need is a four-out inning (when you have an error in an inning that should’ve been an out) when you are battling to win a game.

By minimizing the small mistakes that should’ve been outs, it can drive the positive momentum of the game just as much as any RBI (Runs Batted In) double or any diving play up the middle.

“Making the makeable plays” is easier said than done. You can practice a drill or routine thousands of times and still get the basics wrong. The hours in the gym and the batting cages aren’t always to prepare you for the most impressive aspects of your skillset, but to strengthen the base fundamentals of how you play. And that’s what “making the makeable plays” is all about.

Never-ending practices of grounders and throws to first base might seem repetitive after so many years but it’s only when you screw up one easy grounder that a runner turns from an out and into a run. And from there, a lead turns into a loss.

Four-out innings suck for the whole team and not just for the player that makes the mistake. So don’t be that player that contributes to those long innings by not putting in the time and effort before the game, at practice and in the gym. Be that reliable ball player that your team can have confidence in to “Make The Makeable Plays.”

Author: Collin Jackson