Game Changer: Denis Boucher
With not a minute to waste, Denis Boucher transitioned from athlete to coach the moment he finished his last game as a Montreal Expos’ player in 1994.
“It’s never easy at the beginning,” he says. “It feels like you’re still a player, but you’re not always on the field.” As an accomplished baseball player (he played for the Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians and Montreal Expos over the course of his career), the ability to transfer his knowledge of the sport to coaching felt natural, but was still a struggle at first. From his point of view though, the fact that he could combine what he knew as a player, to what he knew as a coach, was a key aspect to his success in coaching.
“You always have to think about the athlete, not yourself,” he says. “Often, you will hear coaches say ‘that was my athlete, I’m responsible for his success,’ but the truth is, the athlete always comes first, let him or her have the spotlight. Coaches are there to support their athletes, to motivate them and to give them confidence, not to outshine them.”
Communication and building good relationships have been the game changing aspects of his coaching says Boucher. “It’s not always about good training and helping your athletes perform, it’s also about having a good relationship with them,” he says. “You have to be in their heads and know what they are feeling.” He tries to focus on motivating his athletes, reminding them that he’s there to help them -- he even goes out to the mound to help his pitchers stay focused.
Another key to his coaching success is linked to something that one of his old coaches told him: “Work really hard - never give up, persevere and be confident.” So that’s what Denis has done his whole career. “Practice makes perfect,” he says. “Baseball is all about repetition, and so is success. To be able to be the best at what you do, you have to put in a lot of hours and sweat.”
Coach training has helped him in many ways as well, including giving him the ability to see the long-term plan, not only the next game. From creating annual training plans for his high performance baseball teams, to knowing when and what to train at different ages, his NCCP training has also impacted the way he raises his kids (yes, he coaches them too!), and the way he runs his youth clinics. “It’s important to keep them active all year long!” says Boucher.
As a former Major League baseball player, a scout, and now a coach, Boucher has had the chance to travel all over the world, attending major events such as the Pan-American Games, World Baseball Classic, and the Olympic Games. “I didn’t get a chance to go as a player [to the Olympic Games], but it was a privilege to go as a coach,” he admits.
He now focuses his attention on his family and coaching, devoting some of his time to developing youth talent in the Montreal region, while also serving as a coach for Team Canada. He firmly believes that improving your skills as a coach is just as crucial as improving them when you’re a player. That’s why he supports the National Coaching Certification Program.
Want to become an NCCP baseball coach? Click here for more information on Baseball Canada's NCCP workshops.