Welcome to the newest member of our team!
SPINw is proud to announce a new member of our team – Brian Baxter, MA Sport Psychology. Brian obtained his Master’s in Sport Psych from JFKU in June 2004, and started his consulting practice at that time. Check out this interview with Brian, and get to know him a little better!
SPINw: How did you become involved sport psychology?
Brian: During college I majored in psychology and after college I started coaching soccer. I guess these two passions combined and led me into this field. As a coach I was really fascinated by the mental side of the game: motivating players to make sure they play up to their potential both as individuals and as a team.Â In 1998, when I was getting my USSF C license, I learned that the field of sport psychology existed at a presentation by Darren Treasure. What he said really resonated with me, and I decided to veer off the coaching track and go more into sport psychology.Â 2 years later I moved across the county and enrolled in the sport psychology program at John F Kennedy University in California.
SPINw: Do you still coach soccer?
Brian: I stopped coaching competitive soccer about 2 years ago to focus more on my sport psychology consulting. However, I do coach my son’s rec league, and I put on my own soccer camps and clinics.
SPINw: Tell us about your experiences in sport psychology since getting your master’s degree.
Brian: One thing that I really like about the field of sport psychology is that there are so many ways to deliver the service. Through individual and team consulting, coaching and parenting education workshops, as well as writing articles, you can help athletes. Currently I run a sport psychology program at a soccer club in Beaverton. I work closely with the teams and coaches, and sometimes with the parents. I like the well-rounded aspect of what that program has become.Â While most of my work has been in soccer, I have really enjoyed the variety of sports and athletes.
SPINw: What other sports have you worked with?
Brian: Basketball, baseball, golf, swimming, tennis, cross country, motocross, and mixed martial arts.
SPINw: Tell us about your personal athletic history and experiences.
Brian: I played just about every sport growing up. Soccer from age 5 through college and I still try to play in leagues when I can. I played football in high school (kicker, of course). I play pickup basketball once a week. I also love to snowboard.
SPINw: What is your primary philosophy regarding working with athletes?
Brian: I see myself as part teacher and part counselor. I believe that athletes know themselves better than anyone else, but often don’t know it or don’t want to admit it. My primary task is to get the athlete to become accutely aware of the issues he or she is facing, and work together to develop strategies to overcome them. My second task is to guide the athlete through the process of implementing these strategies, so that they become second nature.
SPINw: What is your primary philosophy in working with coaches and parents?
Brian: The keys to being a good coach or sport parent are awareness, honesty, and communication skills. Coaches need to be aware of themselves and the players they coach, and be able to communicate their ideas effectively. Parents’ most important role is to be supportive of their athletes, through failure and success. I try to get any adult involved in sports to know when to get involved, and when to step back and let the athlete learn on their own.
SPINw: Who can benefit from sport psychology?
Brian: Anyone this side of Michael Jordan! Seriously though, anyone who wants to improve their performance or enjoyment level in sports.
SPINw: What are some examples of those benefits?
Brian: Increased confidence, better focus and concentration, less stress, more enjoyment, new coping skills not only for sports, but for other areas in life too.
SPINw: Any favorite stories or anecdotes to relate?
Brian: Working with a high school team, one of the players was telling me about how he overthought everything, and how that made him nervous and effected his performance. Mentioning another player on his team, he described him as “too dumb to get nervous.” On the heels of that comment, he asked me, “Is your job to help smart people stop thinking?” I had never heard sport psychology laid out quite like that, but I have to admit that he had a point!
SPINw: Are you from the NW? What brought you here? Tell us about your family.
Brian: I am originally from Gainesville, FL, but I have lived all over. My family and I moved to Portland from the Bay Area, CA in 2005 because we wanted to stay on the west coast, but in a smaller city with better access to the outdoors. So far, we love it. My wife Debbie is a photographer, and my 6 year old son, Hawk is a kindergartener. We also have black lab, Murphy.