A little history...

Dan Kopitzke

 

Born in 1967, I have more than a little history on this earth. All of it somehow, some way contributes to who I am today and how I observe the world around me. It could fill a book. Not that anybody would be interested in reading it necessarily, but the volume is there.

I have been physically active my entire life. I come from a very large extended family (33 first cousins on my mom's side alone) where my siblings and I are on the young end of the spectrum. We got together often with these cousins so I was always trying to keep up and fit in with whatever games where being played. There was so much unstructured play before my parents signed me up for my first organized sport at the age of 8.

I played multiple sports all through high school earning all conference and all-state honors and could have played football, basketball or baseball in college. I felt my best chance of playing professionally was in baseball, so I chose it. My college career started off hot, capitalizing my first opportunity on our spring trip south (I played up north at the University of Detroit). I was in right field batting second. When we returned, I cooled off quickly and was out of the lineup never to return. I was moved from the outfield to the bullpen. I didn't perform well there either, I didn't work to get better because I thought I was good enough (I was better than the guys pitching instead of me) and my four years ended without an opportunity to play in the pros.

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I studied engineering while in college and used my degree to work in the automotive industry for over a decade. It was there that I developed the thirst for data and testing. I focused on safety products, seat belts and airbags, for much of my career so "close enough" or "it mostly works" or "it passed the test that time" didn't fly. The requirements were very stringent. I got paid to make things fail, fail quickly and fix the flaws. Retest and rebuild, over and over until the product was robust.

This is the perspective I brought to the field of baseball training and optimization. Up to that point, it was all about experience and subjective opinions. There wasn't much technology used in baseball or much objective analysis happening. My engineering background was appreciated by some and scoffed at by others.

In addition to this, I researched the subjects of baseball pitching and hitting for a couple of years scouring the internet for information. This was back when the information on the internet was much more accessible, before they started filtering what your searches would turn up. I found thought leaders that were challenging the status quo. I devoured the research papers available at the time.

I didn't stop there. I also studied the subject of how we learn skills and acquire motor tasks and abilities. I didn't want to just know the subject, I wanted to be able to transfer it and communicate it to a student. There's a big difference in knowing something and knowing how to teach someone to do something.

For example, you know how to walk. You likely know it well enough to not have to spend hours researching it. You are an expert in it so to speak from your years, decades of doing it. Do you think you can teach someone how to walk? How would you do it? What would you teach them? Which processes would you use? Which words? How long would it take? What do you think your success rate would be? How would you handle a struggling student? Would you stick to your process even if it wasn't working? Would you be open to changing or adjusting your process? If your student failed to learn, was it the process or the student? How would you determine which one?

These are just some of the questions I would ask as I went through my process. I started with the research, applied it, observed it, measured it, evaluated the results and made adjustments; over and over again. With this process, I developed some very effective methods for skill acquisition. I've learned a lot through the years. I've applied that knowledge to my own game, not just to my clients.

I have first hand experience with the methods I use and promote. My performance on the field is a testament to these practices. My success in high school came fairly easy, I didn't have to work too hard for it. My failures in college came pretty easy too. My success today may look easy, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It's a culmination of sticking to a process of testing, measuring, observing, evaluating and adjusting and adapting.

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