Mental Game Training

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 book would do—to transform […]

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)

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 |December 1st, 2015|Coaching, Confidence, Mental Game Training, Mental Toughness|0 Comments

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 national tv, and […]

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 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 of his teammates.  We implemented breathing […]

15 years of SPINw – so, what’s changed?

by Brian Baxter, MA Sport Psychology

2014 marks Sport Psychology Institute Northwest’s 15th year providing mental game services for teams, athletes, coaches and parents.  The consultants of SPINw were asked: How has the field of sport psychology changed in the past 15 years?  Interestingly enough, I’d say it’s grown by leaps and bounds, but at the same time, it still faces some of the same challenges now as it did back then.

For my own personal journey, I will go back to 1991 (okay, so that’s *gulp* 23 years ago), the first time I ever heard the term “sport psychology” or someone working with a “sport psychologist.”  It was about my favorite pitcher on my favorite team, John Smoltz from the Atlanta Braves.  Being a collegiate athlete and psychology major, this was huge!  I was all in!  Except I wasn’t, because nothing seemed to ever come of it, at least for me.  I continued to play soccer, improving my technical and tactical knowledge of the sport, but without improving the mental part.

Fast forward to 1997, when I first had contact with a sport psychologist.  I was pretty dedicated to coaching soccer and taking my USSF C license course, when renowned sport psychologist Darren Treasure presented on the topic of Psychology of Coaching.  My interest was immediately piqued (again) and I hung out afterward and bent Dr Treasure’s ear for a while, soaking up what information I could gain, finally deciding, this is what I want to do.

In 1999 (15 years ago), I applied to and was accepted to John F Kennedy University sport psychology graduate program, and the next year packed up the U-Haul and my wife and dog and I head from North Carolina to […]

By |October 7th, 2014|Mental Game Training, Sports Psychology|0 Comments

Post Race Blues

*This article was recently published in the Portland Triathlon Club Newsletter*

For endurance athletes, the mental game is as important, if not more so, than the physical game for competition. A strong mental game gives the athlete the best chance to succeed before the race starts, and during the race itself. Sports psychology includes having a good pre-race routine, implementing strategies for how to handle the ups and downs of a race – the pain, and the rigors of competition, and strategies for winning the battle in the athlete’s mind – the battle between all the reasons to quit, versus all the reasons to keep going.

But there can also be a potential post-race psychological competent too. Known most commonly as “post-race depression”, it is less frequent of an issue as the pre-race or during race issues, but no less difficult to deal with. Post-race depression is a build up of focus, concentration, sacrifice, hard-work, and anticipation that has a very abrupt end. It can be mentally and emotionally draining. Physical changes include hormone and chemistry changes. All of this can make an athlete wonder “what is going on?!”

It’s important to know that post race depression is pretty normal! We sometimes experience let downs after big events, and it can be part of the process. While the experience of these emotions are normal, that doesn’t make it any less comfortable. Here are some sport psychology techniques that can help soften the blow:

Goal Setting – Goal setting, when done correctly, is a continuous process. It does not end with the A-race, or the end of a season. There is a logical next step to focus on when done. After a big race, athletes can plan on a fun […]

Mental game for referees

by Jimmy Yoo

“When I am right, no one remembers. When I am wrong, no one forgets.” – Doug Harvey, Hall of Fame Umpire

During competition, referees decision-making is always subject to public opinion. As a result, referees find that they are often criticized and questioned on their decision-making and game-management skills. Good referees can make sporting events flow well and they are able to create a positive environment that is focused on sportsmanship and competition. On the other hand, inefficient referees can make a sporting event seem to drag on because play is constantly being interrupted by fouls or penalties being called, which can also lead to angry coaches and athletes, and unruly fans.

To be successful as a referee, it is important to be proficient in the following areas: game knowledge, decision-makings skills, psychological skills, strategic skills, communication or control of the game, and physical fitness (Guillen & Feltz, 2011).

Game knowledge includes knowing the rules, understanding proper officiating mechanics, and understanding the basic strategy of the game.

Decision-making skills are defined by how quickly and accurately a referee is able to make decisions that include making accurate judgment calls and being firm in one’s decisions.

Psychological skills are defined as focusing attention and concentration, staying cool under pressure, and recovering quickly from making a bad call.  These are almost identical to the psychological skills athletes need, and therefore sport psychology can be beneficial to referees too.

Strategic skills tend to focus on making the right interpretation of the game and its rules. Strategic skills include being able to stay up with the play, being at the proper angles for decisions, and anticipating game actions.

Communication means being able to communicate effectively with players, coaches, and co-officials. Effective communication equates to […]

By |March 31st, 2014|Mental Game Training, Referees|2 Comments

Goal Setting: Making your own Syllabus

by Brian Baxter, MA Sport Psychology

Most of the athletes I see come through SPINw are high achievers. They are high level athletes who are dedicated, self-coaches, and know how to push themselves. They don’t accept mediocrity. It’s these quality that get them to a high level in sports. but it’s also this quality that can make the overwhelmed and frustrated.

More often than not, these high level athletes are also high achievers in the classroom. Early in my career it was amazing to me how many 4.0 students come in to seek mental game training; now it’s just commonplace.

A collegiate cross country runner I worked with not to long ago was one of these high achievers in the classroom and on the field. A 4.0 student and talented runner on scholarship, she’d been struggling in her running for about a year, culminating in her refusal to run in an important event due to stress and anxiety. After a strong freshman season, she struggled with injury and sub-standard performances. She was beginning to question her abilities, her training, and herself as a runner.

I asked her to explain the difference to me between sports and academics. She said basically, for school, everything is spelled out for her: the professor gives a syllabus at the beginning of the year, and all she has to do is work hard, follow the steps, ask for extra help if needed, and do well on tests. But for athletics, there were too many factors she couldn’t control: injury, pressure from her teammates and coaches, and not meeting her own standards (“I’ve always been kind of a perfectionist,” she told me).

Goal setting is a great way to get the athlete to focus in on […]

By |December 18th, 2013|Goal Setting, Mental Game Training|0 Comments