Game inside a game

Published 10:31 pm Tuesday, April 15, 2014

 Chase Hartley takes aim at the plate during a  win over Headland. Hartley picked up the win in a relief effort. (Photo/Ryan McCollough)

Chase Hartley takes aim at the plate during a win over Headland. Hartley picked up the win in a relief effort. (Photo/Ryan McCollough)

Charles Henderson baseball uses game goals to rack up wins, titles

While the number under the “runs” column of the scoreboard ultimately decides who wins and loses, Charles Henderson head coach Derek Irons isn’t really concerned with it.

Irons, ever the strategist, is always in search of different ways to keep his players and team focused on the task at hand, but also loose, relaxed and having fun.

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Irons introduced “game goals” to his players a few years ago, and it had an immediate impact of how the players played throughout the game.

“We were looking for ways to get our intensity levels a little higher,” said Irons. “Our energy levels just weren’t where we wanted them to be. So we put in the game goals, and the guys started trying to achieve them. It certainly worked.”

The Trojans have four offensive and four defensive goals every game, and the goals never change.

Irons feel by keeping the goals the same, consistency is created and maintained.

“It doesn’t matter if it is the state championship game, opening day or anywhere in between, the goals don’t ever change,” said Irons. “They give our guys things to go for each day, and a baseline to get better.”

On offense, Irons wants to see his team collect seven runs, seven freebies, 60 percent quality at-bats and a big inning of three runs or more.

Defensively the goals are four runs or less, less than four freebies, 115 pitches or less and zero big innings.

“In six years, we have not lost a game when we picked up two on offense and two on defense,” said Irons. “In games where we get just two on each side, we are undefeated. There are a bunch of statistics that we show the guys how this process works.”

The idea of game goals and building a process of how to do things first came to Irons a few years ago after reading a book written by former Los Angeles Dodger great Orel Hershiser.

“I read a book back in the 90’s and Orel was talking about process,” said Irons. “It is not a new thing, but it is something that more people are focusing on now. Game goals are just a way for us to focus on the process and not get caught up in the opponent, the weather or anything else. When we set those four goals on offense, and four on defense, that is what we are playing for.”

Charles Henderson plays host to St. James in the first round of the Alabama High School Athletic Association playoffs on Friday.

St. James and CHHS are set to begin the Friday doubleheader at 4:30 p.m. at Hogan’s Hole.