Get to know Jimmy Yoo

The first in our SPINw Consultant interview series…

What they’re saying:  Testimonial from a College Wrestler:

“I was truly blessed to have gotten the opportunity to work with Jimmy. He helped me get out of the slump I was in. We went over various methods to help me relax and realize that wrestling doesn’t control my life as I once thought it did. He showed me there is life outside ofwrestling and in order to excel and accomplish my goals, I needed to relax, have fun, and reward myself. He has helped me outside of my sport as well, and he continues to help me today even though we are several states away.”

Q:  How do you work with athletes?

A:  Sport psychology is an educational process that uses scientific research, philosophy, and technique to help athletes learn to perform at a higher level. It is not a magic pill that just makes you better; as an athlete, you can’t look for the quick fix.

I apply my knowledge of sport psychology and practical experience to help athletes develop and practice new skills so that they can make positive changes, move toward their potential, and make sure they are having fun.

I also work with recreational athletes, coaches, business professionals, and artists to help them achieve personal and professional successes (e.g., coping with life stress, improving time-management, setting attainable goals, communicating better with family members, teammates, coaches, co-workers, and friends).

Q:  What can an Individual athlete expect from a session with you?

A:  Dedicated athletes spend countless hours physically preparing for competition; however, seldom do they set aside the necessary time to mentally prepare.

I help athletes develop a balance between mind and body so that they can achieve consistency and increase personal performance. I feel that individual sessions help athletes reduce stress by having a confidential place to process challenges.

Q: What is your favorite part of working with athlete?
A:  Seeing an athlete’s smile because they feel confident and enjoy competing in their sport.

Q:  How do you approach team sessions?

A: I like this quote:

          “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the

           greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the

           club won’t be worth a dime.” -Babe Ruth

I work with teams to help them identify strengths that individuals bring to the team and areas where they need to grow. I also help teams to improve communication among team members and coaches, and to build stronger team cohesion.

Q:  What is your favorite part of working with a team?

A:  During team building exercises it is great to see athletes communicating in a positive and constructive manner. If a team has really built a strong sense of trust, you can see that athletes understand their role on the team and leaders emerge from the group.

Get to know Elliott Waksman

The second in our SPINw Consultant interview series…

What they’re saying:  Testimonial from a High School Wrestler:

 “I am actually looking forward to next week’s competition.  I never would have said that last season.”

Q:  How do you work with individual athletes?
A:  Athletes walk out of my office with tools. Not hammers or rulers but mental tools, such as how to effectively set process goals before a tournament or how to reframe an annoying negative thought. As a consultant it is my job during the office session to set up the client for success on the court or field. This education piece is a huge element to my work.

Q:  What is your favorite sport psychology technique?
A:  Visualization! 99% of Olympic athletes use visualization techniques. While many athletes have heard this buzzword thrown around, my clients understand how to visualize correctly. Additionally, I often guide the process by facilitating a personal visualization script in sessions.

Q: What is your favorite part of working with individual clients?
A:  Everyday my clients and I work to reframe negative “pop ups” to positive, controllable thoughts. Cleverly helping athletes come up with solutions is something I enjoy in individual session work.

Q:  What is your favorite part of working with a team?
A:  Playing teacher. Presenting new material to athletes via power point workshops and experimental activities is a huge thrill for me. The athletes absorb things differently with an outside professional. While some coaches touch on the mental game, I come in and teach applicable concepts in detail with a fun format.

Get to know Brian Baxter

The third in our SPINw Consultant interview series…

What they’re saying:  Testimonial from the parent of a competitive soccer player:

“Just wanted to tell you how much you did for Lea over the past several months! She was just talking about how wonderful you are
and a pro at helping her realize and focusing on the important things! Thank you!”

Q: What is your favorite sport psychology technique?
A:  I guess it would be appropriate to tell you my athletes’ favorite techinque. Over the years, I have heard the most positive feedback about “circle breathing.”  It’s a skill that is simple and has so many applications, from relaxing to re-focusing to grounding yourself in the present moment.

Q:  How do you work with athletes?
A:  One way to look at my work with athletes is that I help them create positive habits over time so that when the pressure is on, the reaction is positive and predictable.  Most athletes I see have lost confidence and focus, and have a hard time dealing with the anxiety that comes with performance.  We work together to figure out what their current bad habits are that aren’t getting them the performance and results they want.  Then we break them down and re-build the new positive habits.

Q:  What is your favorite part about working with athletes?
A:  That every athlete is unique.  I really enjoy getting to know the athlete as a person, a student, a family member, and helping them come up with the solutions that work for them.  Then finding strategies to implement that work for that athlete personally.

Q:  How do you work with teams?
A:  First I work with the coach to get a feel for he or she would like the team to get out of the sessions.  Then I prepare workshops, using powerpoint and worksheets, experiential activities, and open discussion, so that the athlete from that team walk away all knowing specific mental skills that will become expected behavior for that team.  All sessions with teams invoive leadership and communication skills that allows the teams to improve on their chemistry on and off the field.

Q:  What is your favorite part about working with teams?
A:  As a former coach, I really enjoy the team atmosphere, the comraderie.  Working with teams allows me to reach multiple athletes at once, and knowing that the “whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

SPINw Director Brian Baxter headed to Spain!

SPINw director Brian Baxter has been running the sport psychology program for the teams, coaches, and players at Tualatin Hills United Soccer Club since 2005. This year, they are going on the club’s first ever coaching education trip to Barcelona Spain!

During the week, they will get to see one Euro League, one Champions League (FC Barcelona vs FC Porto), and one La Liga match live. They’ll also be touring Nou Camp, FC Barcelona’s home stadium, watching some Barca youth training and games, among others.

Along with learning about coaching, Brian plans to keep a “sport psychology” eye out as well. Check here and on our facebook page during the trip (DEC 3 – 11) for more posts during the trip.

History for 500 Please: America’s First Sport Psychologist

  – by Elliott Waksman

“Improving a man’s frame of mind, his outlook, the way he feels”.  This was the approach of America’s first sport psychologist, Dr. Coleman Griffith, when consulting with the Chicago Cubs over 70 years ago.


Griffith, a University of Illinois experimental psychologist, hashed out the team’s mental training program alongside chewing gum king and Cub owner Phillip Wrigley.  Griffith incorporated high-speed movie cameras, chronoscopes, and individual therapy sessions in his work with the Chicago ball players.

The empirical research and lab equipment have progressed since the 1930’s.  But has the goal of consulting?

Decades later sport consultants across the country are being relied upon more and more to give teams and players an extra mental advantage in hopes of maintaining a mentally tough approach.  Over 70 years ago the Cubs knew where to turn for a competitive spark.  Do you?

Click here to read more about America’s first sport psychologist:

Sport Psychology mentioned on the BS Report this month

ESPN’s The Sports Guy Bill Simmons puts out a couple podcasts a week.  Sport Psychology and the mental game was mentioned by NBA and NFL bigwigs last week.  Here are some excerpts from those interviews:

Mark Cuban interview – 3/5/12

Sports Guy:  With statistics, do you feel like we’ve maxed out? What is the next thing you are interested in?  Because it feels like you’re getting all the data you need for the stuff that’s helping you win, but what’s the next frontier for you?

Cuban:  I think the next frontier is influencing the numbers, as opposed to just creating them, you know.  We’ll get into biomechanics, and real time sourcing of players’ information, and saliva testing in-game, and all that kind of stuff. I think the psychological side is probably the area we’re focusing on the most and have been for the past 3 years.  The psychology and culture and integrating coaching and players and the definition of what an NBA player is.  When you come to the Mavs for the first time, as a rookie in particular, we set a program for you that, this is what we expect from you as a Dallas Maverick, and as an NBA professional.  We’ll have somebody sit down and outline your goals, outline your workout program, outline your off-the-court, you know, what’s expected of you, and we work with you to stick with that program.  And if you can’t stick to it, you’re gone.

Eric Mangini interview – 3/6/2012

Sports Guy:  Analytics are undervalued in NFL, behind other sports in that department.

Mangini:  We did a bunch of stuff in New York on performance enhancement, which is mental training based on the model they set up at West Point, and we were the only team other than AC Milan to have a Performance Enhancement Center.  And all the time, we talk to our athletes about “move on to the next play,”  â€œmake sure you envision this,”  â€œbe in a zone,” all those different things.  We always talk about it, but nobody teaches it.  Nobody teaches the athlete how to move on to the next play, nobody teaches the athlete how to get in a zone, and there’s a whole new field based on mental training…”

The Wide World of Sport Psychology

 Brian Baxter, Elliott Waksman, Jimmy Yoo and Michael Wilson

Sport Psychology has been steadily gaining recognition over the past decade. And while the sports world generally knows of sport psychology, the majority still don’t know what it is we do.  In this issue of the SPINw e-newletter, we’ll give you some highlights of who we work with, what we do, and more from the wide world of sport psychology.  Enjoy!

What sports have you worked with at SPINw?

Soccer, Football, Baseball, Softball, Basketball, Hockey, Volleyball, Lacrosse, Golf, Tennis, Track, Wrestling, Cross Country, Marathon, Swimming, Cyclo-cross, Skiing, Snowboarding, Horseback Riding, Mixed Martial Arts, Motocross, Competitive Cheer, Dog Agility, Competitive Poker, Triathalon

What level of competition are your athletes and teams?
Professional, Collegiate, Competitive Club Sport, High School, Recreational, Olympic hopeful

What is the population of your athletes?

Age Range – 10 – 55
Average Age – 17
Male or Female – 50/50 split

What are the most common reasons for coming to see a sport psychology consultant?

-Dealing with anxiety or pressure to perform
-Loss of confidence
-Not enjoying playing 
-Trouble controlling emotions
-Better in practice than competition
-Want to get to the next level-Recovering from injury
-Team building

Why I got into Sport Psychology

By Mike T. Wilson, Graduate Student, John F. Kennedy University

After playing elite level soccer for most of my life there seemed to be an undoubtedly significant factor that I witnessed which separated the better from the best. So far as technical skill, well, save for the Michael Jordans and Lionel Messis even Nadals, professional elite level sports are all but equal. However, aside from the resources that athletes use beyond the weight room and after the fitness programs are finished, there is yet another factor; the mental game.

I first encountered sport psychology in the Men’s Varsity Soccer program at Azusa Pacific University. The year my team won the 2007 NAIA National Championship was the first time I was introduced to goal setting. The first time I ever heard of a SMART goal I was sitting with a group of 24 teammates on the eve of training camp.

Since that summer evening nearly five years ago I have received my Bachelors degree in Sport Psychology, I am interning with the Sport Psychology Institute Northwest, had professional soccer experience, and currently I am currently working on my Masters in Sport Psychology at John F. Kennedy University. Through my experience in athletics I understand the importance of mental skills and the significance of properly applying mental skills techniques. Whether it is teaching situational-anxious athletes how to use imagery to build confidence or teaching a softball team how team cohesion and group dynamics. The role of a mental coach for individual based sports such as tennis, are critical in maximizing optimal performance.

My long-term goal is to be a licensed Sport Psychologist, working with every type of athlete of all levels and ages. My short-term goals are to complete my Master’s work, receive my Nutrition and Exercise Performance Certificate, and complete the Association for Applied Sport Psychology membership.

Book Review: Play Big Baseball by Dr. Tom Hanson

Book Review:  Play Big Baseball by Dr. Tom Hanson

The follow up to his Heads Up Baseball is a unique sport psychology book.  In the spirit of Dan Millman’s Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Play Big Baseball is a story about a young baseball player and a mysterious mentor who teaches him how to “play big.”  Dr. Hanson does a really good job of explaining the mental game in a language that anyone can understand.

Play Big Baseball
Buy Play Big Baseball from the SpinW webstore

Endings As Beginnings

Summer is here and for sports that means a lot of endings. European soccer culminated with a splendid display by Barcelona in the Champions League Final, the NHL and NBA finals are wrapping up, college and high school baseball and lacrosse are heading into the post-season. And oh yeah, if you are a student or teacher, school is coming to a close.

At SPINw we’ve been talking a lot about the new beginnings that happen when seasons end.   In preseason there is a plan. There is excitement and focus and endless possibilities for the upcoming season. During the season athletes and teams train and fine-tune tune their games, and of course, compete. Those in the post season hope to peak and perform at the maximum level.

But, as you are heading into a break from your sport, what is your game plan? The off-season is in many ways, just as important as the pre- or post seasons. We have a couple suggestions to maximize your off-season:

Rest: Most sports are year-round these days, and rest can’t be neglected. Make sure that you schedule some rest and relaxation, and stick to it!

Review: Take some time to reflect on the season. Did you accomplish your goals? Did you improve? If so, how did you do it? Are there moments you wish you had back? Are there moments you’ll always remember?

Recover: It’s time to heal those injuries, whether major or just minor nagging injuries.

-Renew: After resting and reviewing, and while recovering, it’s time to start looking forward again, at least mentally. It’s time to renew your commitment to the game, the team, and yourself.

Michael Jordan was famous for adding a new piece to his game every summer: three point shooting, spin moves, fade away jumpers, to name a few. He used the off-season to keep his competitive edge and continually distance himself from his opponents. What do you want to add to your game? What are your goals for the off-season?

Not only can you add a new physical skill: speed, agility, technique, a new move, etc, but you might also want to consider adding to your mental game: build your confidence, control your emotions, improve your leadership, or learn how to use visualization to enhance performance.

At SPINw we can help whether it’s getting you out of a slump, building confidence after an injury, or just helping give you an extra edge. Contact us today to ask how.