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What Motivates You?
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Darrell Coulter
Bonne Terre, Mo

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September 6, 2011 – 11:31 pm
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After spending a few months reading through this forum (which by the way has some great info if you are paying attention), I can't help but wonder what some of these young pitcher's are looking for.  There are few positions in sports that puts you out there like being a pitcher does.  You are the exact center of attention.  There is a ton of pressure that comes with that if you are not competitive by nature.(and even if you are)  

What Brent does here is give you the a huge head start on the mechanics side of pitching.  But all of that means absolutely nothing if you don't have the work ethic or the desire to want to be the best pitcher you can possibly be.  There is no magic wand that he can wave over you and make you do the workouts.  If you don't want to be a great pitcher then just keep doing what you already know.  Just know this, Every great pitcher in the world has a pitching coach.  Someone they can lean on.  Someone who will push them both mentally and physically.  Someone who will question them and help them prepare a game plan.  Someone who can help their fragile ego's after a heartbreaking loss.  Someone who keeps that ego in check when they are dominating everyone.  

I would much rather coach a less talented, highly motivated pitcher than a highly talented, less motivated pitcher.

Motivation and Trust is the Heart and Soul of True Confidence.

What is Your Motivation?

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Brent Pourciau USAW Certified
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September 7, 2011 – 12:20 am
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Darrell, this is a great topic. I would be surprised if anyone responds because this is a very personal question. I hope someone replies because I am just as curious to learn what motivates those here. I will give those here a chance to reply and if they don't, or if they do, I will post my personal experience.

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Coach Robo
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September 10, 2011 – 10:25 pm
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Well, guys – it's been four days and no one has responded to Darrell's post.  I think that speaks volumes.  Darrell, I know this is an important topic to you and you've written well on it – I'd love to hear your (and Brent's) comments on the subject.  Here's my take…

I think it's a fact of life that only a very small percentage of people are high achievers or even have the desire to be.  I have a successful career outside of baseball and I work with (and fortunately compete against) very few people who are doing much more than going through the motions.  I think it's an observable phenomenon that it's not human nature to seek excellence – let alone pay the price to achieve it.  Everyone who has coached baseball has been faced with the challenge of coaching players who aren't nearly as interested in the game as we are, or giving lessons to kids who are obviously only there because their parents want them to be.  But, that fact of human nature gives a tremendous advantage to those who are competitive and know what it takes to succeed.  And that's why coaching is such a great avenue to make a difference in the lives of our players.

I think this subject defines the role of adults in kids' lives and specifically coaches in young players' lives.  I used to give coaching seminars to youth leagues and I would tell the coaches that it wasn't our job to make baseball fun – the guy who invented the game already did that.  And besides, kids don't need adults to have fun.  They do that just fine on their own.  Obviously, baseball has to be fun or the kids wouldn't play it.  And coaches can screw it up for them by being jerks, but there's only one way they can make it more fun – teach them to be good at it.  Kids who are good at baseball usually have fun.  Kids who aren't very good usually quit the game.  And over 80% of all kids who play baseball quit before they're 12 years old.  That's a failure of the coaches and adults in their lives.  Baseball teaches kids a tremendous number of lessons that transfer to life – but only if they're playing it.  Therefore, our job as coaches is to teach them how to play baseball.  And as Darrell has said in many posts – that's starts with your mental approach to the game.

I tell my players every year that if there's one thing they're supposed to learn from playing for me, it's that anything worth doing is worth doing the best you can.  Baseball is not the most important thing in the world – except for when you're playing it.  When you cross the line, we expect you to put everything else out of your mind and give baseball 100% focus and 100% effort.  If you take that approach with everything that's important in your life, you'll be amazed at the results. 

Darrell, I read where you wrote in another post that when you pitched you just wanted to win.  I can relate to that.  I say the same thing in my business and in my coaching career (and when I pitched).  But, what is really fun isn't just winning – it's competing and all that goes with it.  It's the preparation and the execution in the act of competing that makes winning so emotionally satisfying – and fun.  Unearned success isn't nearly as much fun as earned success.  And teaching young players how to earn success is our number one job.  And it's fun!

And I think they need us – the coach you say above that every great pitcher has – to learn how to do succeed.  I'm not surprised that none of the young pitchers on this forum answered your question.  They never think about it.  And I don't think we should expect them to on their own.  As we can observe in everyday life, it's not human nature to be driven to succeed.  I'm positive that your experience with players can't be that much different than mine – I've seen very few players who came to me with a true drive to pay the price to succeed.  But, I'd sure like to think that I've helped ignite that drive in a few. 

And Darrell, I think challenging them like you do in some of your posts is the first step in coaching any player.  We know that you can't succeed in baseball or in life without that drive.  So, as you've said before – they have to know what their motivation is.  They won't succeed without knowing.  A very few may come to us with that drive.  It's up to us to challenge the rest of them to question their own motives and their desire to succeed.  Once they find the motivation, we can show them how to build on it.  That's the joy of coaching.              

Proud father of a U.S. Marine (HOME from Afghanistan)

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Brent Pourciau USAW Certified
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September 11, 2011 – 4:29 pm
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This is great stuff Coaches! Coaches like both of you guys are rare. I know my career would have been healthier if I would have had coaches like either of you to support me along the way.

I thought I would also share what motivated me in my career to work hard and to find success in this game. I was a late bloomer growing up and I also had a learning disability in school. Sports was the only place I stood out and excelled. I loved football as much as baseball but being a late bloomer and small, I knew football was going to be a lot tougher road. In my senoir year playing football I got such a bad concusion that I lost my short term memory for 24 hours and had to be hospitalized. This pretty much persuaded me to play college baseball over college football.

I also like the fact that when I started playing college baseball more girls wanted to talk to me. This was another motivator for baseball. I believe the fact that I was better at baseball than anything else and that girls wanted to talk to me because of it, I then knew this was my career. The rest of my motivation was a desire to be the best. I came from a family of very successful people, so I too wanted to be a successful person. Also on top of that I learned I was a very relentless person who didn't take failure well.

The day I tore my rotator cuff and my entire life came crashing down, was the day I had to make a major decision in my life. Walk away from everything that I had built up my entire young adulthood and start something new, or overcome the odds and devote myself to baseball. I obviously decided to devote myself to this game and it has shaped my entire life. The only reason I decided to retire from playing baseball was becuase the day my devotion to the game started to effect my relationship with my family and my ability to create my own family, this was the day that I promised myself that I would retire. As devoted I was to the game I never wanted it to isolate me from all the other important things in my life like my family. I always knew I could coach the game.

Now as a coach my motivation is passing on my experience and discoveries in this game and also the opportunity to help those in their careers just like I would have appreciated the help in my own. This is where I agree totally with everything you have posted here Coach Robo. I couldn't have said it any better!

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Coach Robo
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September 11, 2011 – 8:16 pm
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I would have mentioned girls, but that's kind of stating the obvious…

Good story.  Your story is an example that it usually takes something to ignite the spark of competitiveness and drive to succeed.  In your case it was an injury – and not incidentally, the fact that you came from a family of successful people.  It's well known that successful families raise successful kids more often than unsuccessful families – which highlights the importance of adults in young people's lives.  A few find that spark on their own, but as coaches we have the opportunity to help many more find it. 

This is a fascinating subject.  I've enjoyed studying it for years.  If you guys are interested, here are some of my favorite books on the science of success:

Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (a famous book and one of my favorites)

Talent is Overrated – What Really Separates World Class Performers from Everybody Else, by Geoff Colvin

Outliers – The Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell

Mindset – The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck

Drive – The Suprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel H. Pink

And of course, the Harvey Dorfman books: The Mental Game of Baseball and The Mental ABC's of Pitching.  They're all great reads (Flow is a little deeper than the others).  And if any of you young pitchers want to really distance yourself from almost all of your peers, pick one of these books to read – probably Talent is Overated would be a good place to start – and don't forget the part about girls.

Darrell, I always enjoy your posts on the subject.  Did I read somewhere that you have a website?

 

Darrell Robison – aka Coach Robo 

Proud father of a U.S. Marine (HOME from Afghanistan)

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Darrell Coulter
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September 11, 2011 – 11:34 pm
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Coach and Brent Well Said.  Your post are always so thought provoking and insightful.  I would have loved to played for you.

My motivation came from my older brother.  He was 4 1/2 years older than me and absolutely loved all sports. We grew up in a poor rural community where sports was usually your ticket out.  He always let me play with all his friends under one condition, no crying.  So from the time I was old enough to walk he would drag me around and let me play with them.  They never took it easy on me.  It taught me that I had to be the smartest player on the field.  I had to anticipate what was going to happen and then have the guts to make the play.  No whining or quitting EVER.  It drove me to be what I call Psycho Competitive.  I hated to lose at anything.  So I became a sponge.  I studied every sport I could.  I watched every game I could. I looked for the best players and I would copy everything they did. I had one problem.  I wasn't very big.  I had some God given athletic ability, but I wasn't the fastest, I couldn't jump the highest or even close to being the strongest.  

But I had an insane appetite to want to compete.

By the time I was 10 I could tell you who every football and Baseball St. Louis Cardinal there was and what position they played. I wanted to be Garry Templeton (pre Ozzie Smith) I hit like him, my batting stance was like his and I played Shortstop, Just like him.  Then my coach that year changed my baseball life forever, he asked me to pitch.  I always had the “Good Arm” and I fell in love with the Mental side of pitching trying to out think every hitter I faced.  I threw 1 inning that year and struck out the side, including the best hitting girl, still to this day I have ever seen.  I was hooked.  I loved the pressure that came with being in the middle of every pitch.

For the next 8 years I taught myself how to Pitch.  I never had a pitching coach or ever went to a pitching clinic.  I never had a pitching lesson.  Everything I learned was from watching other pitchers.  It taught me a lot, but I also had some bad habits that I didn't know how to fix.  

By the time I was a Senior in high school I had a lot of success, had a Full Ride to Mizzou and had a pretty good idea I was going to get drafted.  But now as I look back, with the right coaching I could have been even better.  I never understood the real mental side of pitching.  I knew how to compete, but it seemed like I always did it the hard way.  I was hard headed and didn't take coaching all that well.  I grew up in a poor lower middle class family and knew that baseball was my way out.  The only way I was going to college was on a baseball scholarship, period.

That was my motivation.  All I wanted to do was win and make my older brother proud.

I got drafted and signed.  That is a story for another day.  Pro Baseball is a business and I wasn't ready for that.

But I loved the challenge of pitching against the best players in the world.

Coach for 20 years now I have been studying why I didn't make it to the big leagues.  I also have been blessed beyond belief outside of baseball.  But I have been lucky enough to work with some young men that have went on to have successful baseball careers at some level.

But as you have stated so well above, and after playing and coaching youth baseball and basketball for years, the best coaches in the world teach, educate and motivate.

But our actions usually speak louder than our words.

Players respond when they know we have their best intentions at heart.

Thanks to both of you for sharing.  You have motivated me to want to make a difference.

Coach I am in the process of launching Pitching Habits.com soon.  Working on putting it together.  

I would love your input.

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Brent Pourciau USAW Certified
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September 12, 2011 – 11:30 am
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Darrell, I like what you have so far at http://www.PitchingHabits.com. I am looking forward to the new content. I searched the web for a pic of you so we all could see what you look like. I found a great pic. I am assuming this is you back in the day. 

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Coach Robo
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September 12, 2011 – 2:36 pm
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Darrell,

     Nice picture, by the way.  I was never that good looking – and now I'm old.  I've been a Cardinal fan since the 1964 World Series – I was nine.  The Tulsa Oilers were the Cardinals AAA farm club when I was growing up.  I saw Garry Templeton play in Tulsa the year before he went up to the Cardinals.  As you know, he looked like a future hall of famer when he came up.  But, he had a few problems with his mental game – which is why Whitey Herzog traded him for Ozzie Smith. 

Hey, I went to your website also.  Even subscribed.  Impressive start.  I look forward to following you on it.  Good luck with it. 

Proud father of a U.S. Marine (HOME from Afghanistan)

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