Jim Clem: Character traits & 6 pieces of advice for winning pitchers

We’ve talked about understanding yourself as a pitcher. We’ve talked about the things that can hold you back from achieving peak performance as a pitcher.

Now, we’re going to talk about character. Specifically, the character traits of winning pitchers, and six rules to follow to excel both on and off the mound.

Character traits of successful pitchers

In truth, if you were listening closely, our past articles featuring pitching coach Jim Clem already mentioned the winning character traits. (Surprise!) Admittedly, they’re not very specifically pointed out during the interview and were woven into the fiber of the entire conversation, so might have been tough to pick out.

Don't worry: we'll give you a hand by pulling a quote from directly from the interview:

…the personality characteristics of successful pitchers I think are determined to be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually balanced, and have a really great competitive nature...
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Mental training gives team more ease, more focus, more success

In the summer of 2013, Coach James Bacca of West Liberty University Softball experienced a fracture… with his team, that is.

The softball players were emotionally and mentally separated from him. That split soon developed into a desire for physical separation: 11 of his players were writing letters to the Athletic Director, trying to get both Bacca and his wife, who serves as Assistant Coach, fired.

It took changes on all fronts to get the team thinking as a unit again, but, in the end, the results were worth it. Not only did they become more unified in thought, but they became more unified in their focus; athletes rediscovered their “Zone”, and winning more was merely one of the great results they experienced as a mentally strong fortress of players.

Before any of that happened, though, Coach Bacca had to alter his own process to get the ball rolling. He had to

Kick "old school" habits

It took this hard push back from his athletes for Bacca to take a step back...

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Focus for coaches: Part 3 - Benefits of putting focus to work

Now that you've had a few days to create your focus lists and put those 80% efforts into practice, I want you to stay encouraged by knowing what you can expect by maintaining diligence in working toward your goals.

Applying focus in the way described in Focus for Coaches: Part 2 may seem extreme at first, but, as you do it consistently, you will begin to save time and eliminate wasted effort. You will be increasingly present and focused in each moment as you work toward your goals. When unexpected events happen, your clear priorities will help you make a strategic, rather than reactive, decision in response. Your focused plan will also help you say no to responsibilities or opportunities that are outside its scope.

A Simple Barometer: Ask yourself, “Does this task fit in with my priorities?” If not, it may be time to reevaluate your plan of action and revisit Article 2.

The power of many

Because you do not operate alone, communicate your areas of focus with...

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Focus for coaches: Part 2 - Why you shouldn’t try to do it all

In our previous article, Save Your Best for the Things that Matter Most, we talked briefly about the pressures of being a coach and how you might have to wrestle with yourself to find focused time away from work to spend with those important to you.

That touched on a complex truth, that…

Our culture pressures us to do it all and do it all well, but it turns out not everything we do contributes equally to our success. The famous management consultant Joseph M. Juran* summed up this idea in the Pareto principle (which you may recognize as the 80-20 Rule or the Law of the Vital Few), which states that...


Work is no exception. The majority of the results we seek actually arise from a minority of our efforts. That means that 80% of what we do doesn’t really lead to the results we are seeking.

This concept suggests that, rather than working more hours, we should be more selective...

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Focus for coaches: Part 1 - Save your best for the things that matter most

My college coaches (who happened to be married to each other) had one rule about work: don’t talk about it during dinner. For one hour of the day at least, rowing was off the table. The other 23 hours of the day were apparently fair game.

With all the stresses of coaching, it’s no wonder they had to set rules and boundaries to even give themselves time to enjoy dinner.

Unfortunately, their story is not unique.

As I work with high performers in all walks of life—executives, entrepreneurs, doctors, coaches, and athletes—one thing sticks out: we always feel we need more time.

But do we?

In this three-part article series, Focus for Coaches, I want to introduce you to a new way of thinking: that you don’t need more time, you need more focus in the time you have.

I want to give you real tools to help prioritize your never ending to-do list so you can get more done in less time.

And, yes, you CAN do this. First, let’s take a look at

The reality of being...

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