Brian Baxter with older son, Hawk Raising a young athlete can be at the same time: rewarding and frustrating, exhilarating and boring, energizing and exhausting! A few years ago, I wrote about Being a Student of Parenting - really taking this crazy world of youth sports and making it about learning how to be a better parent. Since 1999, SPINw has worked with thousands of youth and high school athletes to help them build or re-build confidence, improve focus, set goals, and deal with the pressure of elite level sports. This process always involves the parents! As the young athlete learns new techniques, the parents are their best support system, and also need tools to help. So, read on to find out 5 Things Amazing Sports Parents Do: 1 - They keep the BIG PICTURE in mind Sports parents most important insight is perspective. For a young athlete, every game is the biggest game of their lives - which can bring with it extra stress, pressure and anxiety. "What is I don't play well?" "What if all that hard work and training doesn't pay off in this competition?" "What if I let someone down?" The last thing a parent wants to do is add on to that stress level in any way. If you were an athlete growing up, hopefully you will have some perspective on things. You will be able to separate the "must win" game from a learning experience. You know that, as important as this game seems now, in the words of John Popper from Blues Traveler: "It won't mean a thing in 100 years." Even if you weren't an athlete growing up, you most likely experienced similar situations in other [...]
Hello world! My name is Jake Sivinski and I am a new intern here at SPINw! I’m super excited to announce that I will be updating the SPINw blog every week. My background as an athlete lies primarily in the winter sports world. I was a competitive freeskier for 7 years competing internationally all over the continent. My background in athletics and my passion for psychology has led me to SPINw, and for that I am grateful. For my first post I would like to tell the story about how I came to know about the field of Sports Psychology and the profound positive impact it has had on my life. Hope you enjoy! -Jake There’s something pretty weird about skiing in July. Every time I do it I feel like I am cheating nature, like stealing a cookie from winter’s proverbial cookie jar. But when the opportunity to ski in one of country's national parks pops up, sometimes you just have to take it. The date was July 1, 2009 and I was 15 years old. I was young and excited and coming off one of my best winters to date: a dangerous trio. To make matters even more dangerous I was with a large group of other 15 year olds who felt the exact same way. We had just built a nice big jump and were all attempting to learn new tricks in the soft summer slush on Chinook Pass in Rainier National Park. The trick of the day was a frontflip and nobody wanted to be the first to try it. Finally, I decided to go first, and well, it didn’t go very well. In fact, it ended in a fracture of both my [...]
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 [...]
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)
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!
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.
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
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 [...]
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 [...]
No, not a sixth sense of being able to see dead people like in the movie... but more like this dictionary.com definition: sixth sense - noun: a power of perception beyond the five senses; intuition: "His sixth sense warned him to be cautious." As an athlete or a coach, do you ever have a feeling that you know what's going to happen next? Or after something has happened, thinking "I knew that was going to happen!" Do you ever make decisions based on a "gut feeling?" That's the kind of sixth sense I am talking about. It's more about seeing things before they happen. Here's another way to look at "sense." If something "makes sense," we are talking about this definition: a sane and realistic attitude to situations and problems; a reasonable or comprehensible rationale. But sometimes sports makes no sense. How else to explain upsets, chokes, and record-breaking performances? Those "wow!" moments like Kirk Gibson's homerun, David Tyree's "helmet catch," or Tim Tebow winning an NFL playoff game (kidding, I'm a big Gator fan, so I can go there)? So what exactly is the sixth sense of sports? Belief, Confidence, Anticipation, Intuition, Trust, Faith? A combination of these? And can it be developed? We think so. Let's take a look at some other "Senses" - Sense of humor, sense of balance, sense of fairness Like these, the sixth sense in sports, well, makes no "sense." Sense of humor is just that - a sense of what's funny. It's not all the same for all people and there is definitely no formula to it. Jerry Seinfeld has a certain sense of humor, and so does Adam Carolla. Both are very funny, but in different senses. [...]