Soundtracks, Part I


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.

There are endless examples of how you can later hear that song and it brings you back to that scene and stirs your emotions again. To show how this works I would take a movie clip and show it to my staff and include the music as it was shown in the theatres. The room would always make comments about the scenes and how it made them feel because they remembered them so well. I would then take the same scene but change the music that was being played. The “Jaws” scene and that dramatic background music was replaced with the song “Don’t Worry Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin. It changed things. You just do not feel like a shark attack is coming when that tune is playing. You actually relax and smile. The Rocky scene and its inspiring track was replaced by “The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars. It also changed things. Rocky looked like he wasn’t quite as fast and you definitely were not inspired. Soundtracks play a huge role in evoking emotions and impacting our thoughts.

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.

The Soundtrack Game 

After rolling through the clips and having the coaches draw the connection to themselves, we would write everyone’s name on a piece of paper and put it in a hat where everyone picked a name to which they were assigned. The assignment was to then write down a song or songs that represented that coach’s soundtrack. I did not limit the number of songs because some folks are more complex than others. Obviously, this was fun, and the coaches got into it. Occasionally though, there was someone who was surprised by the song or songs picked for them. It generated some real uncomfortable conversations at times, but at the same time very productive one-on-one sidebars where we got feedback on our soundtrack.

After this self-awareness exercise we connected it to our coaching and leading. To be an effective coach, having command of our soundtrack is critical. Further, having command of many songs of your soundtrack will allow you to reach more players. When I say command, I am talking about having your self-awareness get to a point where you can adjust the song and volume of that song in order to connect and reach who is in front of you.

As a coach, there are two huge questions we must continually ask:
Which song does the individual need?
What song does the collective group need?

Transitioning from song to song and adjusting your volume along the way is what good coaching looks like. It is seamless and constant.


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.