The Mental Side of Recruiting

    “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.” – Yogi Berra

As everyone knows, baseball is a game of failure – a game where if you fail 70% of the time, you can make a ton of money doing it. As a young player, you work hard and put in long hours fine-tuning your mechanics, getting stronger and faster, and learning the game. But that’s only half the battle. What about the 90% of it that’s mental – how much work do you put in training your mind?

That’s where sport psychology comes in. Another way to look at sport psychology is to see it in terms of “mental strength”, “mental toughness”, or “mental conditioning.” The higher the level you achieve, the smaller the difference in your competition’s technical skills, tactical knowledge, and physical ability. The biggest difference comes in ability to focus, coping strategies to deal with pressure and failure, and overall confidence.

So, what does this have to do with the recruiting process?

I frequently work with athletes who are stressed by the process: more people watching you play, more pressure to perform, and bigger downside if you don’t. Thoughts like these may become distractions, taking focus away from just performing up to your ability:
-”What if I mess up in front of this coach?”
-”I HAVE to play perfectly.”
-”Don’t make a mistake, don’t strike out.”

Athletes tend to overthink these things because they think it logically makes sense. But it only makes sense if you are playing for a coach who thinks they are scouting players who bat 1000 and never make an error.

The reality is, I don’t know any coaches who think that way. Coaches aren’t looking for perfection, because they know that’s impossible. They are looking for character, attitude, effort, how you treat your teammates, and coachability. In short, they are looking at how you handle the 70+% failure at least as much as they are looking for the 30% success. Maybe more so.

So how can you be mentally tough and keep the right mindset? Here are a few way:
– Set goals for success, but also set them for failure. Set attitude and effort goals.
– Show positive body language and verbal communication skills at all times.
– Focus more on the process than the result. Focus on the present moment!

These are all things that you have control over. When athletes focus on what they can control, they do not guarantee success, but they do give themselves the best chance to succeed. In other words, when you do things the right way, step by step, it usually leads to the right result.

Most coaches can see players who are doing things the right way.

Brian Baxter, MA Sport Psychology, is the Director at SPINw in Portland, OR. He works with athletes, coaches and parents to help build focus and maintain confidence to ensure more consistent performance. Brian’s book, the Sports Mindset Gameplan, is available on amazon. | 866-300-1515 | |

Congrats Wilson High School Baseball – state champions

For the past couple seasons, I have had the pleasure of working with the Wilson High School baseball team.   What these guys did this season was amazing!

“In the Oregon School Activities Association 5A final, the Trojans were down to their final three outs, trailing 6-3 against Kevin Hamann, the best 5A pitcher in the state, who came into the game with a 16-0 record.

Wilson had been clinging to its final breath of life throughout the previous two rounds of the playoffs, though. The Trojans trailed Pendleton 7-1 in the quarterfinals before coming back to win 9-7 on the road. In the semifinals, Wilson trailed Bend 2-1 in the seventh inning before scoring the tying run and eventually winning 3-2 in 10 innings.

One reason for the comeback victories was that Wilson has had four sessions with sports psychologist Brian Baxter this season. The Trojans learned how to focus on their breathing, how to create routines and how to control what could be controlled.”

Check out the story from this week’s Portland Tribune.

Book Review: The Yankee Years by Joe Torre

The Yankee Years
The Yankee Years by Joe Torre


In the sports world, the month of October means playoff baseball. With that in mind, here is the official SPINW book review on The Yankee Years by Joe Torre & Tom Verducci.

COACHES read up:

“The New York Daily News welcomed the hiring of Torre with a huge headline that said, CLUELESS JOE”. Pg. 4

  • Learn how Yankee Manager Joe Torre went from loser to legend.

PLAYERS read up:

“Yeah, you have to be talented in order to win, but you have to have the right mindset. The right frame of mind” –Derek Jeter

  • Learn how the all-time Yankee great, Jeter, approaches the mental game.
  • Think you are in a playing slump? Jeter endured a 0-for-32 slump, the longest hitless streak by a Yankee in 27 years.
  • Learn how Yankee players overcome physical and mental hurdles.

TEAMS read up:

“You could cut the clubhouse tension with a knife.” Pg. 412

  • Learn how the various Yankee teams have addressed the following issues: team dynamics, star power, media relationships, controversy, scandal, and contract negotiations.

Ruth, DiMaggio, Yogi, Jeter, Mariano. All share in the history of the most successful all-time American team. Get this book on your nightstand, then call SPINW to get to where you want to be.

Baseball Mindset Training

All good baseball players know how important a strong mental game is in separating the elite player from the rest.  But, understanding this alone isn’t enough to reach your potential  Beginning with a FREE INTRODUCTION on November 5th, Metro Baseball Academy and the Sport Psychology Institute Northwest are teaming up to bring you 5 seminars focused on strategies to help you reach that potential.

All 5 seminars run from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m.
November 5th seminar is FREE
Cost of a single seminar is $35
$100 for all four seminars

For more information, or to register, please call 503.863.7375 or email

November 5th: Free introduction to the Mental Game – Playing with Confidence.  We’ll outline for you the fundamentals of the mental game that Professional Baseball players use to build greater confidence

November 12th
:  Commit to a mission and develop a mantra. Know why you play, how you want to play, and what you want to accomplish in the game.

November 19th: Take Control of your focus.  Learn how to manage your emotional and mental energy.

December 3rd: Self-Talk, Relaxation, and Imagery.  Learn to use these strategies when faced with adversity.

December 10th: Preparation, Action, and Response.  Develop a pre-game and pre-pitch routine. Build a plan to perform at your best and one pitch at a time.