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So far Brian Baxter has created 180 blog entries.

Insights for sports parents heading into the new school year

Whether it's your daughter's first season of kindergarten soccer, or your son's senior year at linebacker, parents can have the same nervous-wracking/exciting feelings the kid has as the season approaches. Throughout the season, you are bound to experience a wide range of emotions: joy, exhilaration, frustration, bewilderment, and anger. You will witness amazing displays of sportsmanship, jaw-dropping incompetence, and uncomfortable moments of conflict.  But it's nothing compared to what your young athlete will go through, how they will experience it all. Throughout it all, the main role of the sports parent is to know the Big Picture. For kids, each game will be the most important event in their life!  You know that it's just a blip on the long-term radar.  For kids, tryouts can make or break the whole year. You know that no matter how it goes, they will learn from it.  For kids, bad calls, disagreements with teammates and coaches, and bad bounces, might be proof that the world is against them. You know that all those things are a part of life, and how you deal with them is much more important that the situation itself. But sometimes we parents can get caught up in the moment. Sometimes as parents we forget. As you approach this season, here are three important facts to help you remember to see sports in the Big Picture context of life. 1) A very small percentage of high school athletes will play in college. An even smaller amount will earn a scholarship to play in college. And an even smaller percentage will play in the pros.  Check out what the NCAA has to say about this. If your child has college or professional aspirations, great!  Encourage [...]

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:02-07:00 September 3rd, 2015|Sports Parenting, Sports Psychology|0 Comments

Sport Psychology Works!

When I tell people that I have a Masters Degree in Sport Psychology and that working with athletes is my full time job, they usually say something like, "Cool! I have never heard of that, didn't know there was such a thing."  When I talk to former athletes about the field of sport psychology, they usually say something like, "Man, I could have used someone like you back when I was in college/high school/competitive athletics!" How do we know it works? 1- Because of the high level of success in our athletes - About 75% of our athletes find us through word of mouth referrals! It's common for us to hold a workshop for a team or group and then have some athletes come to see us individually afterwards.  All of our consultants have playing, coaching, and parenting experience so we really relate to each athlete. The majority of our athletes report improvement in confidence, control, focus, performance and more after meeting with us. 2- Because of our relationships. We have been working for numerous years with organizations like University of Portland, Wilson High School baseball, Windell's Academy, Tualatin Hills United Soccer Club, and the Portland Timbers and Thorns RTC program.  These organizations highly value the mental game for their organization, teams, coaches, parents, and of course their athletes, and have included SPINw as a key component of their success. 3 - Because we are seeing it more and more in the pros, as I wrote about last year. Performance in sports can be broken down into 4 main "pillars:"  Technical, Tactical, Physical, and Mental.  Players must be proficient in each area to perform at their maximum.  As the level of play rises, the differences [...]

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:02-07:00 May 6th, 2015|Sports Psychology|0 Comments

Sport Psychology Interview with Isaac Byrd

Recently I was interviewed by ex-NFL player Isaac Byrd on his Unlocking the Minds of Athletes podcast.  Isaac does great job interviewing professionals in the field, and I was honored to be a part of it. Check it out here. Quote: Henry Ford…Anything being possible 2 things to listen for: 1st, Brian talks about the importance of having awareness that a strong mentality is just as important as a strong body and 2nd, he mentions 3 key components to be aware of that will immediately help your mental-game. Scenario: He details certain techniques athletes can use to keep a strong and positive mindset when dealing with a major injury. Training Round: He talks about a technique he teaches his athletes called ‘Filtered Listening’ and he goes into great detail about what that is and how you can use it in any sport.

Sport Psychology is not just for sports

The vast majority of our clients have been athletes.  High level performers who have high aspirations, push themselves to train hard for extended periods of time, and who sacrifice so much in their lives to achieve their goals. From team sports like soccer, basketball and baseball, to individual sports like cross country, tennis and golf, there are probably more similarities in the mental game than differences.  Pressure, stress, dealing with failure, inconsistency in motivation, lack of confidence, mental fatigue, and struggles with concentration are some of the issues we see no matter what the sport. But not only across sports, this is across life too. Think of your life outside of sports, whether it's work, a job interview, taking a big test, or simply paying your bills in any given month.  These issues come up in many areas of life where you have to perform to a high level to achieve your objectives. While most of our clients are athletes, we have also worked with students, business people, stock traders, and military, among others.  The qualities needed to perform are the same:  confidence, focus, motivation, dealing with pressure and anxiety, controlling emotions, and more.  Check out our sport psychology services page to see if what we provide athletes could help you perform to your best in your field. Mental Skills Foundation for US Army  

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:02-07:00 March 31st, 2015|Confidence, Sports Psychology|0 Comments

Sport Psychology Skills beyond sports

by Dr. Eric Bergreen Years ago I had to take a big test, the biggest of my life. This was one of those tests where the odds were Not in your favor. ARG…….PRESSURE! I thought to myself, what’s the difference between BIG Test pressure and trying to make the game winning free throw? Nothing, absolutely nothing. As they say “it’s all in your mind.” I created a pre-performance routine to get me in a confident mindset. Next, I created a refocus routine for when I hit those tough questions that make me think more about the consequences of failure than the actual question. I was nervous, but the skills I learned from Sport Psychology really helped me beat that test. So, if Sport Psychology is not just for sports, where else in life do we experience a desire to succeed and often find ourselves tested? The answer is everywhere! Because others could see it’s not about “Sports” it is about “Performance”, I recently had the opportunity to work with the United States Army. Consider a Soldier who is fresh out of high school and facing training that will determine the ultimate version of success and loss. Consider an Army Ranger who is at the top of his game but still wants that split second edge when push comes to shove. They both need to reach their potential in the critical moment. The skills of composure, focus, confidence, and mental agility were needed in every part of their life. It was enjoyable to take the exact same mental skills I have taught to athletes and let the Soldiers tell me all the applications in their world. And yes, they taught me some amazing skills as well. [...]

By | 2015-04-01T11:09:41-07:00 March 31st, 2015|Sports Psychology|0 Comments

Sport Psychology is about Fun

Continuing our 5 Things You Need to Know About Sport Psychology... #1 - Sport Psychology is not “psychology” #2 - Sport Psychology is as much proactive measure as it is a reactive one we now bring you #3 - Sport Psychology is about Fun The reason that people play sports, coach sports, watch sports, and get their kids involved in sports boils down to one thing:  having fun.  Sure, there are other very valuable reasons - to be active, to meet new people, to be part of something bigger than yourself, to compete, to learn - but what is the common denominator for all these reasons?  Because it's fun. Whether you are a young athlete, a professional athlete, a coach, or a sports parent, keeping this in mind is crucial to the athlete's performance and success. Young Athletes In study after study, survey after survey, fun is one of the top reason kids give for participating in youth sports is fun. But what is fun?  According to a George Washington University study: "The 11 fun factors lie within the fundamental tenets and include Being a good sport, Trying hard, Positive coaching, Learning and improving, Game time support, Games, Practices, Team friendships, Mental bonuses, Team rituals, and Swag." Professional Athletes But is sports supposed to be 'fun' for the pros?  Isn't it their job? Sometimes hard work isn't fun, right?  Well, let's let a couple of professional athletes have to say about their participation in sports. Derek Jeter:  "The one thing I always said to myself was that when baseball started to feel more like a job, it would be time to move forward." Lionel Messi: "Football is a game. I'm trying to have fun on [...]

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:02-07:00 March 19th, 2015|Confidence, General, Positive Thinking, Sports Psychology|0 Comments

Sport Psychology is Proactive too

Last week's issue covered the fact that:   #1 - Sport Psychology is not “psychology” Not only is sport psychology not psychology, it is also not just a measure of last resort. There can be a tendency to think of sport psychology only as a reactive measure - when the athlete is struggling mightily with performance. But working on the mental game is valuable as a proactive tool too. Let’s look at the Mental Game on this spectrum: In our experience at SPINw, the majority of our athletes are on the lower end of this spectrum.  They are usually trending toward the Struggling mode or worse.  But we do serve as a proactive measure as well. For young athletes, as they grow physically, become more skilled technically, and learn their sport tactically, the psychological aspect of sports can't be ignored. The older a player gets, the more pressure, the higher the stakes become, they  must have the tools to handle.  For older athletes, a strong mental game is needed to keep consistency in performance. A Proactive Success Story I once worked with a high school quarterback who was up toward the higher end of the spectrum and told me the reason he came in was because he “heard sport psychology could help make me a better player.”  Simple.  He was a confident kid, but this was his first year to potentially be a starter.  He was in a preseason battle to win the starting job and wanted to do everything he could to give him a competitive edge. We worked together on setting goals for the season to sharpen his focus.  He worked on improving his leadership skills to communicate better and get the most out [...]

Sport Psychology is not “psychology”

*This is Part 1 of the 5 Things You Need to Know About Sport Psychology Series* Last year, I wrote an article asking if 2014 was the Year of Sport Psychology.  While sport psychology has enjoyed great gains lately, the field is still somewhat of a mystery to most.  I suspect if you’re reading this, you have the basic understanding of the importance of the mental game, but here are 5 things you need to know to have a deeper understanding of how sport psychology can help improve your mental game and overall performance. #1 - Sport Psychology is not “psychology” psychology This is typically the biggest misconception is about the field as a whole.  According to, here is the definition: psychology  [sahy-kol-uh-jee] 1.  the science of the mind or of mental states and processes. 2.  the science of human and animal behavior. 3.  the sum or characteristics of the mental states and processes of a person or class of persons, or of the mental states and processes involved in a field of activity:  the psychology of a soldier; the psychology of politics. 4.  mental ploys or strategy:   He used psychology on his parents to get a larger allowance. While all of these definitions are good descriptions of how sport psychology works, it's important to make the distinction.  The field of psychology is pretty diverse - there are psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and counselors.   Many practitioners in psychology diagnose and treat mental disorders, usually according the DSM-5. In sport psychology, professionals are more closely related to coaches than these other titles. Mental Skills Coach, Mental Toughness Coach, or Mental Conditioning Coach might be a better way to define our work. We work with athletes [...]

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:02-07:00 February 23rd, 2015|General, Sports Psychology|3 Comments

Keeping your New Year’s Resolution alive

by Jimmy Yoo, MA Sport Psychology As I enter the weight room at my local fitness center, I start my regular routine of scanning the room.  My first objective is to find the first available treadmill.  If they are all taken, I go to plan “b,” see if an exercise bike or elliptical machine is available.  The beginning of January, when dreams of ‘New Year's Resolutions’ abound and are plenty, not one fitness machine is available.  The room is filled with energy and expectations of a healthier me.  But today, I notice that only ¼ of the exercise machines are occupied.  I then take a quick look at my watch to see that it is now almost the end of February.  Resolution season is coming to an end and many of my fellow gym rats that started the season with me, have more than likely succumb to old habits or have found a new reason why they don’t have time to include exercise as part of their daily or weekly routine. Why is it so difficult to get our ‘new years resolutions’ to stick? One reason that comes to mind is that we tend to think big, like dreams of losing that beer gut or wanting to look like a supermodel for summer.   A dream without a road map to get you there tends to be a fleeting thought. How are people able to create a ‘New Year's Resolution’ that is successful?   So many times, our ‘new years resolution’ tends to be a lofty dream rather than an attainable goal.  It is good to dream big, but you also need to create a plan that makes your goal a reality.  Instead of setting an [...]

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:02-07:00 February 18th, 2015|Sports Psychology|0 Comments

Sport Psychology and Transitions

-by Jimmy Yoo, MA Sport Psychology With the start of the winter sports season, I am reminded of the multi-sport athletes who are transitioning from their fall to winter sport. Some high school athletes will rely heavily on their coaches to make this transition for them, hoping that the conditioning and training sessions are enough to successfully prepare them for each sport season. Others may have started cross-training midway through their fall season so that they feel prepared to start their winter sport. While many of these athletes are able to successfully make the transition from one sport to the next, it is important to set personal expectations to help you to successfully transition from one sport season to the next. For example, a high school athlete who plays football in the fall and wrestles in the winter has to transition from a football weight to wrestling weight (e.g., 225 pound football weight to 190 pound wrestling weight). While the prior sport focuses on the healthy weight gain, the latter sport focuses on healthy weight loss. Since it is not realistic for an athlete to start cutting weight during the football season, the athlete must make a plan or set tangible expectations to accomplish this goal. This could include figuring out a healthy nutritional plan and setting an expected amount of time in which he could manageably drop the weight. The classic stereotype is of a wrestler exercising in a plastic sweat suit to shed as much water weight as possible while also starving himself or herself to make the required weight the day of competition. You will even hear stories of how wrestlers make it a regular habit of gaining and losing 10-15 pounds [...]

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:02-07:00 November 26th, 2014|Sports Psychology|0 Comments