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SPINw team, 2013: Jimmy Yoo and Brian Baxter

The Sports Mindset Gameplan

What does US Soccer’s new mandates mean for you?

The implementation of US Soccer's 2015 Player Development initiatives is right around the corner.  There has been lots of discussion on the topic, but few concrete answers, which is leaving many involved in youth soccer a bit confused and unsettled about what these changes will mean for players.  These initiatives are changing the youth soccer landscape completely, so there are a lot of unknowns for parents, coaches and players alike. The bottom line is, what's best for the kids? Do these mandates help or hurt? Here in Oregon, youth tryouts for club soccer are taking place May 9-14.  In this article we will take a closer look at the changes coming up, give our take on them, and what they will mean for the youth soccer community. {SPINw is hosting Tryout Prep Mental Game Workshops to help players go into tryouts focused & confident}  -Click on the link below for more information and to register- First off, why all the changes?  Why now? Click here for a video explanation from US Soccer According to US Soccer, here's the reasoning behind the changes: Despite the increased popularity of soccer and the success of our national teams, the youth soccer landscape at the entry level needs to be improved. Our soccer culture at the youth level focuses on winning and results rather than focusing on developing the skills of individual players. The concept of a team outweighs the importance of players having fun and developing to the best of their abilities. As a country, we need coaches and parents to spend less time caring about wins and loses, and more time devoted to teaching individual skills. Part of this initiative is to educate and empower coaches and parents to change [...]

Developing Young Athletes

Stages of Athletic and Social Development: Perspective on Developing a Young Athlete By Jimmy Yoo, MA Sport Psychology We are currently in an era where children are pressured to specialize in a sport as early as 10 years of age.  These young athletes are heavily recruited by youth travel or club teams, where the majority of their time is spent competing versus training and just enjoying sports.  Travel teams, select teams, and/or competitive club programs are promising parents that their children increase their chances of a college scholarship and the potential to become professional athlete, IF they commit to year around single sport specialization and travel to competitive tournaments where college recruiters and professional scouts evaluate them.  Parents whose children are on these teams will recruit as well by telling prospective parents that if their child does not commit to playing on a club/travel/select team at the youth level, they won’t have a chance of making the varsity team for their local high school. It is good to have dreams and aspirations for our children, but it is vitally important to make sure that our kids are having fun, that we (as parents) are allowing them to participate in as many sports and physical activities as possible, and that we are allowing our children to develop at their own pace.  Like all things in life, sports and being physically active is a process.  For athletes, developing physical strength and agility, acquiring technical skills, learning tactical skills, and honing psychological skills (like mental toughness and anxiety reduction) are keys to their success.  With that in mind, children need the necessary time to develop each of these skills.  For example, before an athlete enters high school, the [...]

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:01+00:00 March 8th, 2016|Sports Psychology|0 Comments

Handling the Pressure of the Playoffs

How are the playoffs different from the regular season mentally and emotionally?  What sport psychology techniques can athletes and coaches use to best prepare for the rise in intensity, anxiety and nerves that happens in the postseason?   Check out Brian's interview on KUIK radio 1360 am.  

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:02+00:00 March 8th, 2016|Sports Psychology|0 Comments

Top Waterskiier uses The Sports Mindset Gameplan to reach his goals

DID YOU KNOW ONE OF THE NATION’S TOP WATER SKIERS LIVES IN HILLSBORO… AND HE’S IN HIS 60’s? Tom Carey credits SPINw book with helping him become a top 10 slalom water skier in the US January  22, 2016, Portland, OR . . . It’s not often that a $20 book can transform your life, career and propel you to the top of national rankings in a sport. But for champion water skier and Oregonian Tom Carey, that’s exactly what reading “The Sports Mindset Gameplan” did for him. An athlete since the age of five, Carey had competed in various sports, and at age 60, he decided to take a different tack for competing at the 2014 U.S. National Water Ski Championships. Although he was always ambitious, he had never gotten the results he wanted while competing at the annual championships. This year, he committed to doing more than showing up. The winter before the competition, a few copies of “The Sports Mindset Gameplan” showed up at his Beaverton facility Bio Force Youth Fitness. He grabbed on and went through it in meticulous detail, page by page, using it as his workbook. By the end, his goal was set to place in the top 10. And so, at the age of 60, when most people are seriously settling in to the thought of retirement, Carey competed and emerged in 6th place in the men’s slalom event. “The Sports Mindset Gameplan,” written by Portland sports psychology consultant and SPINw director Brian Baxter, MA. It’s an interactive workbook designed for all athletes, from beginning to recreational to elite, and puts the mental focus back into physical training and performance. “This is exactly what we had hoped the [...]

It’s 90% Mental! Workshop on February 28, 2016

Come join us at Evolution Healthcare and Fitness in SE Portland on February 28th at 5pm for a mental game workshop. (Click here to register) How many times have you heard someone tell you what a huge component the mental game is in your particular sport? Well, they were right! You spend hours each week training your body to perform at it's highest level. But how do you prepare your mind? The mental game often separates the good athletes from the great ones, and the great ones from the elite. This workshop will address confidence, mental toughness, focus, and more, to help you perform up to your potential when the pressure is on. As the Director of SPINw here in Portland, Brian works with athletes and teams of all ages and skills levels on the mental game. He is excited to bring these sport psychology techniques to the athletes at Evolution! Copies of his workbook for athletes, The Sports Mindset Gameplan, will be available at a discounted rate to participants. (Click here to register)

A New Year’s Resolution – lay off the refs!

I've got a New Year's Resolution for us all - Lay off the referees, enough already!   I've heard all the excuses, and I'm sure you have too:  "We didn't win because of that one bad call!"   "They are always biased against our team." After a while, I all I hear is "Blah blah (excuses) blah blah (not my fault) blah blah (must blame someone other than myself) blah blah." I have coached soccer in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, California, and Oregon. Guess which state has the worst refs? It depends where you live!  Because those living in each state will claim it their referees are the worst.  How about some perspective? Read any message board comments section about a controversial call or a "bad game" by the officials - the fans rarely ever agree on good calls/bad calls, and that's with the benefit of slow motion replays from numerous angles!  Even with the advent of instant replay in the NFL, there are still arguments.  How about some perspective? In sport psychology, we teach and train athletes on mental toughness - how to build and maintain confidence, and how to re-build confidence over the course of training and competition. To do that, athletes must be focused on things that they can control over things they cannot.  And the referee is a big factor that is out of your control (others include the weather, field conditions, opponents, etc.).  Athletes need to know this, coaches need to know this, and sports parents need to know this. And we all need to act accordingly. Do referees make bad calls? Of course they do.  Is it okay to be upset about it?  Yes it is.  How long is it okay to [...]

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:02+00:00 December 30th, 2015|Sports Psychology|0 Comments

How Can Coaches help players out of a slump?

I do a regular interview with Michael Austin from Basketball Coach Weekly. Coaches often ask me about team motivation techniques, and what sport psychology skills they can use with their athletes.  In this most recent interview, (which I particularly enjoyed) I address the answer to those questions in terms of how coaches can spot and help correct a player who is in a slump.  Check it out!

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:02+00:00 December 1st, 2015|Coaching, Confidence, Mental Game Training, Mental Toughness|0 Comments

Gratitude and Performance

Thanksgiving coming up. As we all know, it's a time to slow down, gather with family and friends, and give thanks for all that we have. It's a needed time of the year, because during the daily grind it can become easy to be more focused on what we don't have!  So a time of the year to give thanks and be grateful. In other words showing, "Gratitude." What does this have to do with sports performance?  The pressure, the intensity, and the daily grind can change an athlete's perspective over time:  The enjoyment can be replaced by timidness and dread, the opportunity replaced by obligation.  When this happens, performance is likely to suffer.  In the past couple months, I have seen this concept has come up a lot with my athletes.  Deliberately and mindfully taking the time to show gratitude during training and competition can improve performance by returning the feeling of perspective, control, and enjoyment. So how do athletes "give thanks" and how does that help with performance?  Again, it's a matter of perspective.  Giving thanks to the situation you are in, not being stressed about it; being thankful for the opportunity you have and not dwelling on what you don't have or wish you had.  Here are a couple of examples from SPINw athletes: A highly rated high school baseball player I worked with was having a hard time living up to his own expectations. There was some external pressure to be sure, but nothing that outweighed the pressure he put on himself.  To introduce gratitude for this young man, part of his pre-game routine became to step out on the field before anyone shows up, and be thankful that he's playing. A [...]

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:02+00:00 November 24th, 2015|Sports Psychology|1 Comment

What to do about abusive coaches

Coaches are teachers, motivators, amateur sport psychologists, and parental figures. A great coach can teach life lessons that go on well beyond the playing field, while a bad coach can make a young athlete hate sports and quit playing altogether. I was like many young athletes, figuring that the leap from a high school level to the collegiate level would mean not only higher competition, but better coaching, and wow, was I wrong about that.  A recent Sports Illustrated article details some disturbing stats about how collegiate athletes are treated by their coaches. (This podcast echos the article and is worth the listen).  In one study cited in the article: "39% of women’s basketball players strongly agreed that “my head coach can be trusted.” 61% of these athletes do not trust the person who is suposed to be their biggest ally and advocate?  The article also goes on to say: "Even more alarming, athletes have never been more psychologically vulnerable, reflecting a trend among all college students. The ACHA assessment found that 41% of athletes had “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function” and 52% had “felt overwhelming anxiety,” with the figures for women jumping to 45% and 59%, respectively. Further, 14% of athletes said they had “seriously considered suicide,” with 6% having attempted it." A similar article was written 5 years ago, but it doesn't seem like much has changed, despite the assertion that:  "That shift has forced coaches to adjust. Abuse simply won't be tolerated."  But it still happens.  Within those 5 years we've seen Illinois football coach fired, video of Rutgers basketball coach throwing balls at a player while berating him, Florida football coach Jim McElwain curse out a player on [...]

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+00:00 September 3rd, 2015|Sports Parenting, Sports Psychology|0 Comments