What Makes Pitchers Great

Mariano Rivera

 What made Mariano Rivera great? Major League Baseball teams have an abundance of pitchers that throw 95 to 100 mph. What separated him was his command, movement and mental toughness in game situations.

Rivera had great command of a rising fastball when he first came to the big leagues and later developed the pitch he is known for—the cut fast ball—when hitters starting laying off the riser because it was rising out off the strike zone. The brilliance of Rivera and Greg Maddux, for example, is that they knew when the ball left their hand exactly how much the ball would break. This ability is obviously superior command and makes pitching to hitters' weaknesses easier. Most pitchers HOPE that happens, Rivera and Maddux almost always knew.

Movement takes hitters down a lot easier than speed. Listening to most big league hitters, they can catch up to any pitcher's fastball. But they hate to see late action, such as a jump or hop in the ball that makes it rise, diving sinkers, Rivera's late-breaking cutter or Maddux's comeback fastball. The hitters are at pitchers' mercy when they throw those types of pitches and they know that!

Lastly, maintaining poise and mental toughness in crucial situations. All the great pitchers have those attributes, but we have seen pitchers with better stuff than Rivera and Maddux fail because they can't handle the in-game pressure or their mechanics are not game sound, which means they rely on power without technique.

Rivera and Maddux had great and simple mechanics which allowed them to repeat their deliveries and concentrate on getting hitters out without worrying about mechanics.


A Shift to Public Speaking, Part 2

Yesterday we posted that we are moving in a new direction to public speaking. Two questions you might be asking are: "Why?" and "Why hire us?" The answers are interrelated. Though I'm not an ex-president, a hero, a religious cult figure, a sports icon, or a self-promoting windbag, we have a message that we want to share. And we will do it without trying to peddle or hawk a book or publication. Our mission is to promote the concepts and values learned in sports participation and apply them to everyday life, whether it would be in the workplace, home or in athletics. My credentials are 56 years of playing, refereeing, and coaching sports while teaching and being an athletic administrator, including a position as superintendent of recreation for a Chicago suburb. You never see it all but I've seen a lot from many different positions. I will bring that experience to the speaker table.

My speaking style is Direct, No-nonsense and Articulate, always DNA! I will be honest, maybe uncomfortably so, but the truth should be invigorating and enlightening in any environment. My delivery of material could be motivating and/or inspiring to individuals and organizations,l but that's not the intent. Our content, based on lessons learned from our athletic experience, will revolve around our Down to Earth platform, interchangeable for businesses or athletics. E is striving for Excellence, A is Adjusting to achieve positive R Results while being T True to your team, organization, and yourself while being H Honest and Humble in situations where it's easy to brag.

I've seen so many businesses that - to use sports terms - lack teamwork and sportsmanship. Given that there is so much competition in business, I always believed it would be more efficient that people work together to increase productivity rather than to be so cutthroat. Learning how to incorporates these sports concepts and values will help. And since a good portion of the working public have children, maybe they also will listen to our message of supporting and not interfering when their kids start to participate in after-school activities.

We need the public's help to get the word out about our speaker capabilities. Without being pompous or self-congratulatory, DNA Sports has always been about 'excellence without ego.' I've always gone by the credo of my parents and I've tried to pass it on to all my players and coaches I've been associated with; " Whatever you choose to do, do the best you can. We will be there for you and always be proud of you." Pretty simple and sweet message! Hopefully we can pass our best along.

To book a speaking engagement or to get more information, please contact us.

Thanks,

Dave

A Shift to Public/Motivational Speaking for Dave Rosene of DNA Sports

A Note from Coach Rosene:

In 2009 Andy Pohl and I founded DNA Sports with the vision of creating a full service sports instructional business with cutting-edge material on our website. Our mission was to point youth coaches in the right direction with the best methods of teaching and organizing programs that would benefit and develop youth athletes. Our content was based on a combined 50 years of coaching, training, and teaching experience on youth levels ages 4-22. Based on consumer feedback, DNA Sports and dnasportsonline.com has been a success from a research source standpoint, but we have struggled financially. DNA produced a multitude of videos and offered related subject articles free to all with the hope that the public would follow up by signing up for clinics, on site seminars, webinars, paying for video analysis of athletes' techniques, and buying our recruiting package for prospective college athletes, priced very reasonably. But after six years, we have realized that youth coaches, with some exceptions, like to stick to what they know or what they've been taught, even if those methods have been proven to be not as efficient as updated teachings. We have also run into a lot of coaches that just don't know the fundamentals or absolutes of sports that have never changed. Some youth coaches also try to correlate MLB players to youth players and tell the players to watch and try to emulate what they see the player do, which is totally off-base. For example, in baseball we see players hitting with high hands and when we asked them why they were doing that they said they picked it up while watching several pro players. Our response is always that those are grown men you're watching and you can hardly keep the bat lifted up before you swing. 

Our biggest roadblock has been coaches' egoism and their resistance to change or listening to alternative methods. As teaching sports professionals, DNA does continual research and has results based on coaching youth, high school, and college on what is most successful with program building, teaching and coaching methods, and athlete communication. CHECK OUR CREDENTIALS! We also to do not recommend subscribing to teaching systems. We prefer coaches working with athletes' skill sets and adjusting their teaching methods to best develop the athletes, rather than young players trying to fit into philosophies that they can't understand because of their youth. But that usually doesn't happen, because very few coaches want to be more knowledgeable at voluntary activities. And that's where we have struggled with our progressive approach. 

We will continue to keep our website and Twitter account open, but due to lack of business we will not be adding new material. To try to subsidize our passion to develop coaches, programs and athletes, I will be available as a speaker. I would hate to categorize my style as motivational or inspirational. I would rather say that I can speak about any subject that relates to youth sports and its values and strengths. I will also say that I'm opinionated and passionate about what I believe in. In addition to a sports platform I have extensive experience with urban issues, diversity, leadership, and program building. Our primary focus is reaching out to businesses though we are not excluding schools, youth organizations, little leagues, or park districts. But businesses budget for outside speakers and that is what we are striving for. A particular slant that is of great interest to me is how sports values and concepts relates to and can increase business productivity. But many businesses might want just hear about sports at the grass roots level since most have children or other subject matter. We can handle it all. And both Andy Pohl and Tim Will are available to speak too. But this is what I'll be doing full time along with continuing to coach baseball and basketball at the high school level. 

We believe in DNA. If business increases to a point where we can publish new material we will do so. Thanks to everyone who have used DNA Sports and dnasportsonline.com as a go-to source for coaching and training information. Our intentions have always been to provide excellence without ego, to help children achieve their dreams and goals. In my next post, coming in the next day or two, I will detail the foundation of my speaking program. Andy Pohl and Tim Will will book all of my speaking engagements. Speeches will be 45 to 90 minutes and the cost will be negotiated at the time of the booking.

All the best and looking forward to talking to you,

Dave Rosene

For more information on getting Coach Rosene to speak to your organization, please visit our Speaking Engagements page or contact us today.

Life Lessons in Sports

There is no greater teacher of life lessons than participation in team sports. No matter if you are young or old, male or female, sports offers something for everyone, and I am no exception. 

It feels as if my experiences playing baseball, football, basketball, and hockey have laid a foundation for virtually every situation that I have encountered in my adult life. The positive (and not so positive) events on the playing fields have provided me with valuable lessons on subjects such as teamwork, self-esteem, and speaking up for my beliefs. 

Sports offered me a chance to step out of a sheltered world and into an environment with many diverse individuals. My first experiences with Little League baseball came when I played on a team with kids from similar backgrounds as myself. Teamwork came easily because we played with each other in the neighborhood and it was an smooth transition into organized competition.

As I got older, however, I had to learn how to interact with teammates that had a different view of what sports were all about. I learned that some guys were less concerned about the team's success and more concerned about their own personal goals and statistics. This philosophy was in direct contrast to everything my dad and my youth coaches had taught me; as they always stressed the importance of team play. And so I felt a need to let those players know (sometimes loudly and emotionally) that we were not going to be successful if individual accomplishments were more important than team goals.

Because I was able to stand up for myself and my teammates without help from the coaches, I discovered a level of confidence and earned a newfound respect from my teammates who believed I was right to confront the "ball hogs" or "spoiled brats". 

Those lessons and experiences from team sports have had a lasting impact on how I view the world as an adult. I applaud unassuming intelligence, selflessness, introspection, teamwork, work ethic, being prepared, and basic old school friendliness. I abhor prejudice, egomania, bitterness, ignorance, apathy, and laziness. I see examples of all these traits every day in the business world, at home, or at school, and I always try to apply the positive values and concepts realized from participating in sports to lead me to a quality, successful, and happy existence.

You did what this summer?!?!

I was out walking the neighborhood with my daughter recently and ran into one of my high school pitchers, a rising junior, who proceeded to tell me about his summer. He indicated that he just got back from a showcase tournament in New York, and prior to that he was pitching in a tournament in New Mexico. In the world of travel athletics, such statements are so common that most of us fail to evaluate and synthesize the information given to us. 

That said, allow me to repeat this story in my own words: A 16 year old student-athlete, who is a marginal Division III prospect, traveled around the country this summer to play baseball.  

And…..how is this logical? With the exception of the tournament organizers and the airline and hotel industries, who else truly benefited from this experience?  You decide.

World Gone Mad

I recently received a frantic email from a parent of a seven-year-old child, seeking to schedule a 60-minute private lesson to prepare his son for his travel team tryout this weekend. Here was my response:

Dear Mr. ________,

From a philosophical standpoint, I will need to decline your offer to work with your son. I believe that 7 years old is way too young to be taking a private lesson, and certainly way too young to be exposed to a tryout format of any kind. We at DNA have maintained a strong stance for several years now that travel sports for prepubescents is not developmentally appropriate and hence not healthy for kids. We also have an enormous amount of research and data that substantiates our belief.  It's the world we live in - I know - the perceived benefits of accelerating our student-athletes through travel sports and tryouts at the earliest of ages - but we will continue to hold firm to our philosophical opposition to what appears to be the norm.

That said, I would be more than willing to work with your son for 20-30 minutes at some point this fall or spring with you present, and provide you a few pointers and drills that may be FUN for the two of you to engage in together. But to do a private lesson prior to a tryout at the tender age of 7 - this is not something me or anyone else at DNA is comfortable with.

I hope you understand our position on this.

Thanks,

Andy Pohl
DNA Sports

Keeping Up with the Joneses: Part 10 - Epilogue

We had our winter sports banquet last night. Coach G was eloquent in summarizing our season. He introduced every player and was very magnanimous with all despite some social media garbage by a couple of guys. Coach is really a fair man. He not only has given athletes second chances, he ignores their missteps and understands his position as a role model. One day some of the more ungrateful players maybe will understand and appreciate him, and they'll be better adults for it.

My purpose for writing this diary was to give the interested public a behind-the-scenes look of an average high school basketball program. We had a great and gratifying season with a bunch of normal kids, and judging from their comments, a season they are proud of and will remember forever. The players weren't big, they didn't have overwhelming speed or quickness, they didn't shoot 3's or free throws well, and we were too undersized to be an effective rebounding team. Yet we won because the team played with defensive tenacity, which led to an abundance of steals and layups and had great chemistry.

Devin was an extraordinary leader, Chidi was an intense competitor, and Ellington was an extremely gifted all-around player. And they were so coachable and hungry to excel. They deserved the season they had, and they were great models for our young players. This is why I coach.

Keeping Up with the Joneses: Part 9 - Season Finale

March 3   

IHSA regional semifinal @ St. Joseph High School (Westchester)
Jones 43, Chicago Bulls Prep 40
Leading scorer: Adrien 14
Record 22-6


"Defense never slumps."

That is a quote from a coach that has been repeated an infinite amount of times, but in high school basketball it rings true, especially with this team. Our offense couldn't get anything going tonight, partially because the opponent played a packed-in-style man defense that was almost a matchup zone. They doubled the post and dared us to shoot from the perimeter, which we did quite poorly for most of the game. But aside from their backcuts which they burned us with a couple of times in the first half, we played very good defense against their half court sets and allowed no fast break points for the entire game. It was a definite improvement from the De La Salle game where we were a turnstile to their fast break.

The game was ugly. Tied at 6 after one quarter and leading 20-14 at half, we stretched the lead to nine at 26-17 before we started inexplicably to turn the ball over by driving into the teeth of their defense without much ball pressure. And they made some really lucky shots; banked in threes, twos off the top of the backboard, and they were shooting a lot of foul shots. It almost seemed like we were fated to lose the game, especially after Ellington fouled out with 4:45 to go in the game. But our guys hung tough and competed on defense and we kept the lead despite missing a lot of free throws in the last 3 minutes.

Coach switched to our stall offense with four minutes to go and it was the best offense we ran in the game. There was no joy in the locker room after the game and a lot of kids were down on themselves for not playing well. Others were ticked because they didn't play. But Coach warned them all season about he was going to go with the guys that earned playing time in practice and our last three practices have been horrendous, so he played guys he could depend on to not be out of position and play hard. It's a life lesson.

We play the host team Friday and they are the # 1 seed with three D1 players, two guards going to Big Ten teams and a 6'11" center. We watched them play before us and they had it on cruise control, beating the opponent by 19. Their guards are bigger than our forwards. It looks daunting but Coach will come with something to slow them down. And our team can't play scared. We are the underdog and we aren't expected to win, so go out and compete our asses off, not like the De La Salle game, where some kids gave up.

By the way, justice was done. De La Salle lost in the first round of their regional tonight. Tsk tsk.


March 4   

We put in a new offense and defense at practice. The kids seem to grasp what we added and they understand the magnitude of playing the top seed at their home. We told them that NOBODY expects them to win and there is no pressure on them so they might as well play great.

We had a decent practice for a change. Their concentration levels were better.  On a side note I had to make cuts for the baseball team. It's the first time at Jones that we've had enough players to make cuts. And we cut some players from last year's team. It is the worst part of the job. It is never easy to dash kids' dreams no matter if they were serious about participating or not. And we have great kids at Jones. All of them shook my hand after the practice/tryout. Total class. Hopefully they will try out again next year.


March 6   

Regional final at St. Joseph (Westchester)
#1 St. Joseph 53, #8 Jones 40
Leading scorer Devin 14. Final record 22-7q


This game was a tough matchup for us. Their guards were bigger than our forwards, they had a 6'11" center, and everyone in their first eight were great athletes and could easily dunk. That being said, unlike the DeLaSalle game, we fought back when we were down and never gave up. The game was close early and we were only down 14-11 near the end of the first quarter when St. Joe's ran off 16 points in a row. The points came mainly off our turnovers as their 3/4 court ball pressure really bothered us and our ball handlers started getting sloppy because of their relentless wave of defense.

We only scored 3 points on a Devin 3 in the second quarter and we were down 34-14 at the half. There was no tearing down the guys at halftime. We wanted them to make better decisions with the ball and get back on defense. We put in a matchup zone for this game and we forced them to take bad shots, so we told them to continue to cover and fight on rebounds. And we really emphasized being strong with the ball and not backing down.

You know what, we didn't back down. We were scrappy and held our ground and made a couple of runs to cut their lead, so much so that 10 seconds into the 4th quarter, their legendary coach Gene Pingatore went to a stall offense to bring us out of our matchup zone.

The game got chippy after their center started using his elbows for no other reason than being a jerk, and Ellington responded by pushing him and basically saying knock it off. Double technicals. Pingatore took the center out of the game and he never returned. Plus one of their other players and Bryson had words and they got technicals. Our players were fired up and though again we were outmanned we competed to our maximum.

Devin had the best game of his career. He hit shots over much bigger people and showed range on his jumper. Plus he scrapped on the backboards. He fouled out early in the fourth quarter and that hurt our offense. Bryson really competed and had no fear. He's come a long way since the start of the season. And everyone tried to play defense. Our offense struggled but that happens against teams with superior athletes. We have nothing to be ashamed of. It was a great effort, typifying what the team was about all season. We made the most of our ability. Not many teams can make that statement. 22-7 and conference champs! A great legacy for those kids.

Keeping Up with the Joneses: Part 8 - Final Days of February

February 15    ️

Double Bubble Shootout at North Side College Prep
Jones 62, Latin 57
Leading scorers: Ellington 18, Bryson 13, Gabe 13
Record 19-5


I never made it to this game, I got caught in a traffic jam on the highway caused by a 38 car accident in the opposite direction. According to Coach G, we persevered despite several of our players showing up late because of the traffic problems.

Ellington dominated the game and Gabe got hot in the second half after refusing to shoot in the first half. Bryson gave the offense a spark and we played enough defense to win. Coach said Latin had a real good player and had him running off double screens and getting great looks. Not until the end of the game did we get some stops because according to the Latin coach, "your quickness wore us down." First time we heard that this year, so it sounded good.

It is always nice to win a game when your team is invited to an event, because you always want to be invited back and for that to happen you have to play well, which Coach said we did.


February 17 

We practiced poorly today. We had a day off yesterday because of a school holiday and we lacked passion and concentration no matter what we tried to do. Ellington didn't show up because of a scholarship commitment.

We play Taft at home tomorrow and though we beat them in the Christmas tournament they have their best player back and he's big and talented. Taft smoked us last year and though they've only won three games, they play in the top conference in the North section of CPL. Coach G calls them a physical team. I call them dirty. If our players aren't ready it could get ugly in a lot of ways tomorrow. We need to use our quickness and not get sucked in to their style of ball.


February 18   

Non-conference game vs Taft at Jones
Jones 63, Taft 49
Leading scorers: Ellington 20, Will 12
Record 20-5


Like I always say, "the more you know the less you know." We had our worst practice of the year yesterday and looked like we were content to call it a season and then we played our best first quarter of the year today.

It was 12-0 early, 22-6 after one and 30-13 at the half. We had the lead up to 25 before Coach G pulled the starters. Ellington dominated the game in all facets. He scored the first 8 points of the game, broke their traps and full court pressure, rebounded in traffic, and had great assists both in the half court and floor length. He did this in only 2 1/2 quarters as Coach liberally substituted. If Ellington ever had the desire to be great he could be an excellent contributor to a college program, but he has a lot of interests and doesn't seem to want to put in the time to elevate his game. He doesn't have a jump shot and his free throw percentage is around 50%.

Our team defense was awesome for most of the game. Taft runs their offense through high screens and we have a lot of same size guys so we talked and switched on everything rather than trying to fight through because their screeners didn't look to shoot if the cutters didn't get the ball. Plus we made them start their offense much higher than they wanted because our guys put great pressure on the ball.

As expected they started holding, grabbing, pushing, and bodying. And as the game got out of hand they resorted to blocking and dirty tricks that if I were playing I would have done something about it. Finally the dirtiest of all their players tried to take out Chidi on a layup and he got the worst of it and got hurt. As Will said on the bench "the irony of it all." When would you ever hear a quote like that from any team but ours? Love these guys.

Winning 20 games is a tremendous accomplishment for our guys. We don't shoot from outside or free throws very well and we are too undersized to be a decent rebounding team, but we play great defense, especially when Chidi plays. This was his first start since he severely injured his ankle and his defensive intensity rubs off on every starter and they play with impressive synergy and desire.

We have no school tomorrow because of severe cold weather so we will only have two practice days before we play Lane Tech, a very tough team, on senior night Monday.


February 23 

Non conference game, Senior Night
Jones 56, Lane Tech 47 (OT)
Leading scorers: Ellington and Chidi 16, Adrien 15
Record 21-5


This game was a big win, the best of the season. Lane Tech has the largest high school enrollment in Chicago and plays in the top conference of the North division. They looked great in warmups, hitting jumpers and looking big and athletic. We started five of our seniors on senior night and they held their own in the first quarter, and we were tied at 12 after one. We substituted Adrien and Will in the second quarter and they seemed out of sync, especially on offense and we started turning the ball over and we were lucky to be down only 5 at the half.

Our only points in the quarter were an Adrien 3. We were out of position constantly and played very scared and tentative. A probable factor was the packed gym. We had the biggest crowd of the year because of the seniors, our last home game and Lane had a lot of fans there.

The second half started like the first ended. We couldn't get anything going because of poor alignment and probably not running the right offense against their denial man-to-man. Though we seemingly couldn't score our defense kept us relatively close. But Lane started getting easy baskets and they had an 11 point lead early in the fourth quarter at 37-26.

We switched to a wider version of our stack offense and finally started to get some open lanes to drive. Not only did we get some layups and tip-ins but we got fouled and were able to add points with the clock stopped. We were also able to set up our full court trap. Though Lane was physically bigger and stronger, they did not have a great primary ball handler and we were a lot quicker. We turned them over and when we didn't we put tremendous pressure on their half court offense and didn't allow them second shots. We kept on emphasizing in the huddle in timeouts that we were wearing them down and to keep putting pressure on them because they were going to break. For the first time in his career, Ellington got animated on the bench and said "we gotta play like dogs" among other strong words and that fired his teammates up.

We finally caught them at 43 when Ellington hit the second of two free throws and forced Lane to take a bad shot with 31 seconds left. After a timeout nobody could get open on an inbounds play under their basket and Ellington threw the ball out of bounds. Lane held the ball after another timeout for the last shot, but we pressured the ball enough to make them go to an alternative option and they came up short on a baseline runner.

We scored the first 6 points in overtime and killed a lot of the clock in our stall offense and eventually they had to foul. We missed three free throws in a row which allowed them to cut the lead to 51-47, but we made three free throws and a layup to finish the scoring.

Our guys never played harder and wore Lane down. We had been telling them all year that this could happen if you play hard, smart, and quick and today they played with that kind of effort that showed them they can win games against good teams. Coach went with Ellington, Will, Chidi, Adrien, and Bryson for the last quarter and all of overtime and they communicated well and played smothering defense while attacking the basket. The crowd was loud and awesome and really helped us. It was THE way to end the home schedule and a great send off for the seniors who really care about the program.


February 25   

Non-conference game at De La Salle Institute
De La Salle 83, Jones 44
Leading scorers: Will and Chidi 11
Record 21-6


This game was an eye-opener for a lot of reasons. De La Salle has three Division I players and they go by the adage (as a lot of Chicago Catholic League schools do) that it's not their job to stop scoring. It's up to the opponent to stop us. Sportsmanship is out the window. 

It is a football bully mentality from a football conference. And their coach had no problem running up the score and played the regulars until two minutes to go in the game. Coach G said this attitude has cost them in the past, losing a D1 player to an ACL injury because the coach kept him in the game too long in a game like ours. And Coach G always pulls our players when he knows he's going to win because he doesn't want to embarrass the other team. But De La Salle and most of the other teams in that league want to bury who they play if they get a chance.

So much for their program, which we could care less about. On the court our players started out scared, settled in a little, and got to within 11-8 before they got blown away with a 14 point run. It was an absolute blitz caused by panicked shots due to their quickness and length, and multiple turnovers. They had three dunks and multiple layups, and our players got a severe dose of big time high school basketball. In the first half their heads were hanging and there was frustration and they stopped competing. It was 42-17 at half.

At halftime in the locker room there were teachable moments. We got after the kids for not competing and we asked them to play as hard as they physically could with some hard cuts on offense and staying in front of guys on defense. It's hard to have a strategy where a team is faster, bigger, and more athletic, but we explained if you pull together as a team and not feel sorry for yourself there can be some positives.

The third quarter went better. We cut the lead to 21 at 59-38 toward the end of the quarter, but De La Salle stepped up their traps and started to pull away at the start of the fourth quarter. Coach G emptied the bench with more than six minutes to go, yet their coach kept their regulars in and was still trapping until the end of the game. That's some kind of statement. I've never understood coaches that do that. Is it ego? Do they feel deficient in other aspects of their life and have to take out their  anger in a sports venue? It sure seems like it. And this coach isn't any good with all that D1 talent. They are barely at .500 on their season and have massively underachieved. He better check out his school's mission statement.

Our kids hopefully learned a lot of lessons in this game and it's mostly about attitude and practice preparation, and understanding that opponents aren't your friends. As a staff we learned that we are doing what's right for our players to make them responsible adults. We ask that they treat people with respect and play hard and act with dignity, but to fear no one and play smart and together and always give their best. I'm sure they will be listening at practice tomorrow.


February 26   

I didn't mean to sound like sour grapes in my blog yesterday, but I despise experienced coaches that exhibit ZERO basketball sense. That means a professional coach who knows what the outcome of the game is going to be and doesn't care how much he or she wins by and substitutes liberally and takes off needless pressure on a lesser and beaten opponent.

The De La Salle coach and others in their league, the top teams in the Chicago Public League, and other big time programs locally and nationally have coaches that do not deserve to be called professional. A profane word describing them is a better fit.