Book review: Sacred Hoops by Phil Jackson

Speaking of basketball season ending and Michael Jordan, one of the NBAs all-time great coaches, Phil Jackson, is retiring this year after 20 years and 11 NBA titles. He’s also written six books, and Sacred Hoops is one of my favorites. There is a lot of the mental game in his approach: team building, focus and concentration, visualization, among others. In Sacred Hoops, Jackson describes his life growing up, his NBA playing career, and his coaching career (through the 1994 season). The opening statement from the book: “This book is about a vision and a dream. When I was named the head coach of the Chicago Culls in 1989, my dream was not just to win championships, but to do it in a way that wove together my two greatest passions: basketball and spiritual exploration. On the surface, this may sound like a crazy idea, but I sensed that there was a link between spirit and sport.” This is a great book. If you are a coach, it will definitely give you some ideas to expand your effectiveness as a coach getting players to play together. If you are a player, you will get some good insights and a new perspective on the mental side of the game. And if you’re a fan, there’s some really cool behind-the-scenes stories about Pippen, Jordan, and the rest of that Bulls dynasty of the 1990s. As Jackson’s career comes to an end, his legacy is just beginning.  Click here to buy Sacred Hoops.

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:07-07:00 June 15th, 2011|General|0 Comments

Pregnancy and the Mental Game

Whether a recreational or competitive athlete, maintaining fitness during pregnancy and returning to sport post-pregnancy has its challenges. Some competitive athletes plan their pregnancies based on their schedules. They try to time their pregnancies. Kara Goucher was very vocal about the window of time she would try to get pregnant. She even stated after a certain point they would stop trying so it would not affect her focus on making it to the 2012 Olympic Games. Timing was on her side and now, a few months after giving birth, she is beginning to build up her training. This is not an easy task!! During pregnancy, physical abilities are inconsistent. One day an athlete may perform just fine, and the next consists of a workout full of struggles. An athlete may begin to question themselves, and might wonder if they’ve lost their abilities forever. Self-confidence turns into self-doubt. Self-talk is not motivating. Common sense may occasionally remind one that pregnancy poses a lot of physical demands on the body, BUT that doesn’t always help. Thank you hormones! So how do those professional athletes make their comebacks? How do they maintain their self-confidence? How do they keep their self-talk positive and constructive? Well, they rely on a STRONG SUPPORT SYSTEM, which can include family, friends, coaches, teammates, and SPORT PSYCHOLOGY PROFESSIONALS. If you are going through a life changing moment, pregnancy or otherwise, add to your support system. Contact SPINW to see how we can help! About the Author: Lisa Peetz received an M.A. in Sports and Exercise Psychology.  Lisa is an avid runner who appreciates and is addicted to marathon running.  She uses her athletic experience in her mental skills training by individualizing skills to be [...]

By | 2011-01-23T00:36:57-07:00 January 23rd, 2011|General|0 Comments

MythBusters: Sport Psychology Edition – Part 3 of 3

Myth #3 – Sport Psychology Is A Quick Fix A lot of my work is with high school and collegiate aged athletes. This is a common question from parents of these athletes: “My son/daughter has state team/select team tryouts tomorrow and is nervous – can you help?” Sport psychology consulting is great for areas like this; however, one session is probably not going to fix it. It is a process to find the obstacles that are keeping the athlete from performing at their top level and introducing strategies to remove those obstacles. Some of those strategies are: Goal setting Visualization Positive Self-Talk Focus Learning these skills and making them second nature is not a quick fix, but a process. Building skills, especially those that are worthwhile, is rarely easy. But with a little commitment, these skills become engrained and last a lifetime, not only in sports but other areas of life. So now that I have de-bunked the myths, here is the truth: Sport psychology is a useful tool for everyone. Sport psychology is for athletes who care and want to perform at their peak level on a more consistent basis. Sport psychology is a long-term solution for improving and enjoying sports for a lifetime! Please contact Sport Psychology Institute Northwest to get started with one of our experienced consultants.  About the Author: Brian Baxter received an M.A. in Sports Psychology.  He teaches individuals how to identify and build awareness of their difficulties, their areas of improvement and their strengths and implements strategies to make the process second nature. 

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:07-07:00 December 9th, 2010|General|0 Comments

Brian Baxter on 95.5 The Game

Sport Psychology Institute Northwest consultant Brian Baxter appeared on the John Lund Show on 95.5 The Game today, discussing the mental state of Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, and the psychological impact of home field advantage for the California Golden Bears. Take a listen below. 

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:07-07:00 November 12th, 2010|General|0 Comments

SPINW Facebook Promotion

In an effort to expand the SPINW name, we have a challenge for you and your online network to help us in our quest, with a special offer to those who help!We hope to build our Facebook page to 300 fans by January 1st, 2011, and if we succeed, will offer 15% off a mental game consultation to the first 10 people to book a session by March 1st.In addition, one grand prize winner will receive a coupon for one free session with one of our consultants.All you have to do is click "like" and tell your friends to like us as well.  If you are among the first 300 people to become a fan, your name will be entered into a random drawing for the 15% off coupon and the grand prize free session.  But, we must reach our goal by the new year, so become a fan today!

By | 2010-11-12T21:17:20-07:00 November 12th, 2010|General|0 Comments

SPINW Now Offering Skype Sessions

The Sport Psychology Institute Northwest is now offering sessions online with Skype.  Skype is an easy, convenient, and confidential alternative to face-to-face consultations.  Skype sessions are effective and provide access to our consultants at anytime, from anywhere, to fit your busy schedule.  If you are interested in setting up an online session, e-mail us at to set up a free 15 minute consultation and to learn about our special rates, and add the username "SportPsychologyInstituteNW" to your contact list.

By | 2010-11-12T21:14:26-07:00 November 12th, 2010|General|0 Comments

MythBusters: Sport Psychology Edition – Part 1 of 3

When people ask what I do for a living and I tell them that I am a sport psychology consultant. Nine times out of ten I hear, “Wow, that’s cool! What is that?” And while most people have not even heard of this profession, many of those who do know what it is tend to misunderstand it. Over the next few weeks, we will explore 3 popular myths about sport psychology and my attempt to set the record straight. Myth #1 – Sport Psychology is for crazy people “So, is that for crazy people like Mike Tyson and Dennis Rodman?”   Although I think that any athlete could benefit from sport psychology, it is not specifically for “crazy” people. Most athletes deal with pressure, stress, returning from injury and self-doubt at some point in their careers. Working with a sport psychology consultant can give an athlete a new perspective on his or her situation, as well as new skills to improve performance. The fact is, sport psychology is very much for sane people – people who care about what they do and will do what it takes to get better.About the Author: Brian Baxter received an M.A. in Sports Psychology.  He teaches individuals how to identify and build awareness of their difficulties, their areas of improvement and their strengths and implements strategies to make the process second nature. 

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:07-07:00 November 9th, 2010|General|0 Comments


 It’s three little letters, but they make a big mental impact. DID NOT FINISH. Those are three little letters I have strived to avoid, and have possibly even feared. For some reason, I equated those three little letters with failure. Now, after experiencing my first DNF in a marathon, I equate them with strength.  Most athletes spend a majority of their time practicing and refining their skills. They spend hours building strength and endurance. They spend countless moments thinking and planning; edging towards their goals. All this is for a small block of time to showcase just what they have accomplished.  Athletes have been taught to push limits and that anything less is failure. Is this really true? NO! Sometimes the smartest thing an athlete can do is recognize their limits and stop. Why risk a lifetime for a moment?  Not finishing something, or taking a break is not failure. It takes a strong person to recognize what their body and mind needs and be able to look past others telling them to push forward. Not finishing something does not mean you are not capable of the accomplishment. It just means you need to take a break and re-approach your goal.  Take Ryan Hall for example. His fall marathon of choice was Chicago. Closing in on race day he recognized that it was in his best physical interest to not race and withdrew his name. Some criticized him for wimping out, while others acknowledged his difficult decision.  Whether you DNF (do not finish) or DNS (do not start), it does not mean failure. Learning to take a realistic assessment of your abilities and redesign your goals throughout training is something every athlete needs to learn, and [...]

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:07-07:00 October 18th, 2010|General|0 Comments

R.I.P. Kenny McKinley

R.I.P. Kenny McKinleyThe football world was saddened this past week with the suicide of Denver Broncos player Kenny McKinley.  Why would a young man living his dream do the unthinkable?  Unfortunately, there are really no concrete answers, and no way to bring this young man back.  Is there anything we can learn from this tragic event, and maybe prevent similar incidents in the future?  No one can say for sure, but we would do a disservice to this man and his family if we did not try. general, sport psychology is an underused resource.  Reading about this tragedy, I could not help but think how my field could potentially have helped this young man, and others who may be going through a similar situation.  Here are three ways that athletes and teams can use sport psychology: Recovery from injury.  McKinley was going through his second season ending knee injury.  Sport psychology can be a useful tool for athletes recovering from an injury.  Athletes may use visualization and goal setting to stay focused.   Athletes can also attend injured athlete groups for support and encouragement from athletes in similar situations.  Not only that, but these groups provide the team atmosphere that is taken away from them by the injury.  Identity crisis and transition.  Many elite athletes have put so much time, effort, and dedication into their sport that it becomes increasingly difficult to separate their identity from their sport. McKinley once had business cards printed up that said:  â€œKenny McKinley, Football Player.” So without football, he may have felt that he was nobody or nothing. Family, friends and fans would have loved to argue with him on this given the chance!This identity crisis phenomenon is not only [...]

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:07-07:00 October 7th, 2010|General|0 Comments


As I look through the paper or watch the news I am continuously discouraged by the actions of many of today’s athletes. They come to our attention not because of a job well done, but because of poor behavior. Soon there will be a joke that starts “How many college football players does it take to fill a jail cell?” What has happened to the concept of good character, leadership, and role models for inspiration? When I was competing in sports I was always aware of an expectation that I must conduct myself in a way that met high standards. As a team leader it was my job to encourage others to become their best both athletically and as people. Has this concept become archaic?I want to return to a time when athletes were respected for their character and not just their paycheck. Let’s get back to glorifying people for their hard work, their endless pursuit for improvement, and for inspiring us to become the best that we can be. I want to relish in people’s commitment to improve their skills whether it’s record breaking or just a personal best! Not all of us are born with superstar talent, but all of us have the ability to take great pride in our determined efforts and the character we have developed as the result of our attitude. Every one of us has the power to take on a challenge and show what we are made of. The effort alone is worthy of respect.If these concepts were supported as much as the ideals of power and fame, might we see less of the behavior problems so common today? Great power comes from personal accomplishment. Try becoming well [...]

By | 2017-08-21T14:18:07-07:00 October 1st, 2010|General|0 Comments