Pitching tips intro: 4 parts to understanding yourself as a pitcher

Uncategorized Nov 25, 2014

Jim Clem, a well-recognized name among baseball and the current pitching coach for the Bellingham Bells of the West Coast League, sat down with me a few weeks ago to discuss, in depth, his coaching philosophy and to give us some pitching tips for players who are both seasoned and new to the game.

Coaching = physical + psychological

It’s important to note that Jim Clem is a seasoned athlete in his own right: he was a standout player on his high school basketball and baseball teams, and, among his many other qualifications, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Master’s in Athletic Administration.

It’s his understanding of psychology that allows the coach to really bridge the connection between sports and the mind. Not only has he seen mental training show its muscle through his athletes’ improved performance, but he recognizes that, on a basic psychological level, people are wired in a way that makes mental strength so critical to sports...

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Junior takes control with mental training, makes breakout season

Summer grew up in a small town with zero to very little competition. Like many athletes in similar shoes, when she started playing college sports--for her, women's volleyball at a Division III school--she was struck with a cold, hard fact: she wasn’t the best anymore.

Going from big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond was hard. By the end of her sophomore year, things were looking glum, and she knew she needed a change. That change was a commitment to mental training from Positive Performance which allowed Summer to change her strategy, take control, and make the season one of the best she’s ever played.

The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can't find them, make them" - George Bernard Shaw.

Making the work, work

Summer was raised by a football coach, so she grew up with a good, strong training ethic. Because of that, she never...

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Deep breathing exercises: It’s not “doing nothing”

Uncategorized Nov 21, 2014


Seems simple enough, right? Completely natural. We breathe without thinking about it, one of those involuntary functions of our bodies that keep us alive.

But, then my mentor, Dr. James Hollingsworth, told me it wasn’t just breathing. It’s deep breathing. And they’re exercises, which, in my mind, implied some kind of concentration requirement, some kind of effort. Some kind of… WORK.

This new definition of breathing took the wind out of my proverbial sails.

Call it quacky. Call it weird. Call it what you will, but I've come to find that this quirky “breathing” is an important, even critical, part of performance. And, as we collectively venture further and further into the craziness of the holiday season, I thought to issue a little reminder about the athlete’s need to stop, breathe, and remember our goals.

Deep breathing exercises are critical.

The first time I did breathing exercises I thought it was stupid. At the very best, I...

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Mental training gives team more ease, more focus, more success

In the summer of 2013, Coach James Bacca of West Liberty University Softball experienced a fracture… with his team, that is.

The softball players were emotionally and mentally separated from him. That split soon developed into a desire for physical separation: 11 of his players were writing letters to the Athletic Director, trying to get both Bacca and his wife, who serves as Assistant Coach, fired.

It took changes on all fronts to get the team thinking as a unit again, but, in the end, the results were worth it. Not only did they become more unified in thought, but they became more unified in their focus; athletes rediscovered their “Zone”, and winning more was merely one of the great results they experienced as a mentally strong fortress of players.

Before any of that happened, though, Coach Bacca had to alter his own process to get the ball rolling. He had to

Kick "old school" habits

It took this hard push back from his athletes for Bacca to take a step back...

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Focus for coaches: Part 3 - Benefits of putting focus to work

Now that you've had a few days to create your focus lists and put those 80% efforts into practice, I want you to stay encouraged by knowing what you can expect by maintaining diligence in working toward your goals.

Applying focus in the way described in Focus for Coaches: Part 2 may seem extreme at first, but, as you do it consistently, you will begin to save time and eliminate wasted effort. You will be increasingly present and focused in each moment as you work toward your goals. When unexpected events happen, your clear priorities will help you make a strategic, rather than reactive, decision in response. Your focused plan will also help you say no to responsibilities or opportunities that are outside its scope.

A Simple Barometer: Ask yourself, “Does this task fit in with my priorities?” If not, it may be time to reevaluate your plan of action and revisit Article 2.

The power of many

Because you do not operate alone, communicate your areas of focus with...

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Focus for coaches: Part 2 - Why you shouldn’t try to do it all

In our previous article, Save Your Best for the Things that Matter Most, we talked briefly about the pressures of being a coach and how you might have to wrestle with yourself to find focused time away from work to spend with those important to you.

That touched on a complex truth, that…

Our culture pressures us to do it all and do it all well, but it turns out not everything we do contributes equally to our success. The famous management consultant Joseph M. Juran* summed up this idea in the Pareto principle (which you may recognize as the 80-20 Rule or the Law of the Vital Few), which states that...


Work is no exception. The majority of the results we seek actually arise from a minority of our efforts. That means that 80% of what we do doesn’t really lead to the results we are seeking.

This concept suggests that, rather than working more hours, we should be more selective...

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Focus for coaches: Part 1 - Save your best for the things that matter most

My college coaches (who happened to be married to each other) had one rule about work: don’t talk about it during dinner. For one hour of the day at least, rowing was off the table. The other 23 hours of the day were apparently fair game.

With all the stresses of coaching, it’s no wonder they had to set rules and boundaries to even give themselves time to enjoy dinner.

Unfortunately, their story is not unique.

As I work with high performers in all walks of life—executives, entrepreneurs, doctors, coaches, and athletes—one thing sticks out: we always feel we need more time.

But do we?

In this three-part article series, Focus for Coaches, I want to introduce you to a new way of thinking: that you don’t need more time, you need more focus in the time you have.

I want to give you real tools to help prioritize your never ending to-do list so you can get more done in less time.

And, yes, you CAN do this. First, let’s take a look at

The reality of being...

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Case Study: Niagara Women’s Basketball

Before mental training

Not long ago, the coaches of Niagara University's Women's Basketball team, including Head Coach Kendra Faustin and Assistant Coach Corinne Jones, felt their program had untapped potential.

In 2013, they knew they wanted to make a change in their team’s collective mindset. More specifically, they knew, in order to get to the next level of performance, there were

4 things they needed to address

  1. “Get Over It.”

    Failure, that is. A fear of failure across the board in their program was manifesting itself in competition. The team would have great practices but were overly nervous about their performance when game time came, resulting in losses and, ironically, failure.
  1. “Drop the Language.”

    The Niagara athletes held on to a lot of negative self-talk (e.g. “I can’t believe I missed that layup in the first half”). Basically, “I can’t” was heard way too often.
  1. Confidence Un-Boost

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What's your athletes' THING? - The fart smeller and other NFL stories

I once heard from an NFL coach that each player in the NFL has their "thing" they rely on.

‘Honestly, Lindsey,’ one of them confided, ‘you could come into our facility and I could tell everyone that you were my professional fart sniffer; you smell my farts to make sure my hydration and nutrition are good. I’m telling you, no one would blink an eye. They’d probably try to hire you.’

Obviously, this is an extreme example, but it holds true: the best players go into competition feeling – and believing – that they bring something special to the table. This is true for the role players as much at the stars, true for team sports as well as individual competition.

The best competitors have an IDENTITY and they prepare in accordance to that identity.

Imagine a team made of athletes who each believe they have something valuable, unique, and powerful within themselves to offer. Each player would position themselves mentally to adhere to that...

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Keeping it real, keeping it fun: A de-stressing action plan

Uncategorized Oct 21, 2014

Joy isn’t elusive

The new school year is just around the corner and, with it, come a variety of stresses for students: events, schoolwork, and a tougher homework load. For some, even one of those words can incite a domino effect of anxieties. Throw them together and you’ve got a cauldron of stress-y mess.

But those in athletics get an extra dose. Not only are many athletes and coaches also students and teachers, worrying about final exams and grades, but they’re weighted with additional expectations, like

Even with extra obligations adding to the stress athletes and coaches already endure, it’s important to remember that taking time out to have fun is an excellent and scientifically proven way to de-stress.

Watch this fun (and funny) video from Brainsmart BBC to better understand what stress actually is,...

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