Soundtracks, Part IV

Coaching Absolutes
By Dave Turgeon

A couple of years back, I used to do a segment with staff called “Soundtracks.” Before diving into it I would always talk about what a soundtrack is. Most of us have heard of them and been impacted by them when watching a movie. Some of us (myself included) have been moved to purchase the soundtrack of a movie. Soundtracks, the music of a movie, evoke and stir emotions and amplify a scene in some way. For example, most of us remember the opening scene from “Jaws” where the young woman goes for a swim and some music begins to play that makes us all feel the impending doom to come. And it did. Another example of a soundtrack that brings about some emotions is from the classic movie called “Rocky.” The scene starts with Rocky doing his road work (running) and ends with him running up the stairs to a song called “Gonna Fly Now.” It absolutely is an inspiring scene that was brought to life from that iconic song.

Just as movies have soundtracks, we also have our own personal soundtrack. When someone walks in a room you can usually feel where they are at by their energy, body language and facial expression. Whether we realize this or not, our soundtrack is playing when we enter a room or walk down the street or engage with others. This is about self-awareness and the impact our soundtracks have on players and our personal lives.


I have had the privilege of working a camp in Taiwan every December for the last four years with friend and also the Boston Red Sox Coordinator of Baserunning and Outfield, Darren Fenster. I knew going over there that this would be a challenge, and it is every year, because of the language and culture differences. Darren is the Field Coordinator of this camp and asks me to spearhead the pitching for the four days. I find the camp a great challenge for the reasons I mentioned, but I also played in Taiwan professionally for four years so I always find a way with my limited Mandarin and rely more on my understanding of the culture and default to show and do, rinse, repeat every day. Darren, on the other hand, never played in Taiwan, but has impacted and improved a camp four years in a row because he has mastered what soundtrack the Taiwanese staff and players need and at what volume they need it, and when they need it played. With the use of his soundtrack of energy, care level, and heart, it has been so cool to witness his bringing together a group of 40 players and approximately 25 staff together in a four-day period. The last four years of working in Taiwan with Darren always serve as a reset for me because it forces me to bring back my teaching to where it needs to be in the first place. It is coaching with constraints. Remove the language and we are forced to develop our soundtrack, use few words if any, and create a “show and do” environment which is skill acquisition rich. It makes me understand the question, “Do I want my players to learn words or acquire skills?”


My personal Soundtrack has evolved and grown over the years. I am also happy to say my volume controls have improved. It will continue to and it has to. Staying connected with players and seeking more self-awareness is a great way of becoming a master coach. I failed to mention my personal soundtrack when I broke into managing / teaching 20 years ago. It contained one song called “Thunderstruck” by AC-DC and it was played at two volumes which were loud and louder! Needless to say, that does not work in coaching or parenting or any relationship we may have.

As technology and its use evolves in the game, remember first that improving our soundtrack must continue or it will not matter what you know if your delivery system is not current. I have mentioned the firing order of coaching in previous blogs and stand firmly by being an excellent relationship builder as critical to the process. So, keep refining and growing your soundtrack and become a master DJ so that anything you know that can help a player will be relevant. Best of luck to you all in your coaching endeavors!

Turgeon is the Coordinator of Instruction for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Turgeon played in the New York Yankees farm system from 1987-1990 under Stump Merrill and Buck Showalter after being drafted out of Davidson College. Before playing for the Baltimore Orioles’ AAA affiliate in 1998 he spent eight years playing abroad. From 2000-2001 Turgeon began coaching in the Cleveland Indians organization before entering the college ranks where he coached with Boston College, the University of Connecticut, Duke University and Virginia Tech. Turgeon was also the Bench Coach for the 2019 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.