Working with a sport psychologist

Dr. Hanson,

It may be beneficial for some of our forum members to know a little more about sport psychology. What it is, what it does, and how forum members could recieve additional information about working one-on-one with a sport psychologist, like yourself, to improve their game. Is it recommended for any age athlete, or is it for more advanced athletes only?

I, too, would love an answer to that question. There have been times when I’ve been completely dominant, and rarely miss a spot, but then there are other times when I tend to second guess myself on the mound. In talking with my pitching coach before entering my last fall ball game, he simply told me, visualize it, clear everything out of your head, and just stare into the glove. When I went into make my appearance in front of the varsity coaches, I had 4 k in two innings, and allowed no runs or hits. The other outs were groundball outs. This may sound kind of weird, and against every rule in the book, but i’ve found in my own pitching experience, that when I seem to get mad on the mound, my mechanics tighten up, and my curveball seems to have much more movement, to the point where I simply know that the inning will be over on the very next pitch because i’ll fool the batter that bad. I also tend hit my spots much better; it could be because my entire concentration is on hitting the target.

In a way, I think having a sports psychologist could do wonders on certain players, take for instance, Big league pitcher, Jose Contreras. He’s really turned his career around after departing from the yankees. Pressure can do some crazy things to a player, and having that extra edge, in a way, could be positive, not only on the player, but on the team, too. Any good hitter can tell you if a pitcher has his good stuff, or his bad stuff. Just by looking in the eyes, you can tell, intimidation can do a lot, and when a pitcher has the ability to do great things, that extra edge can inspire and motivate your team to hit. I mean, when i’m on the mound, and i’m feeling confident, I don’t care who you are, if you’re crowding the plate, I’m going to throw a fastball right on the inside corner, and it’s going to be at the knees. And if you still stay there, i’m going to throw my curveball right at you to the point where it crosses at the knees. Still want to stay there, be my guess, high and inside. The minute you step back, two seam fastball on the outside corner, still at the knees. If you can get a pitcher relaxed, confident, and to the point where he just stares in at the plate, devious things could happen to that other team. Not unless the pitcher just doesn’t have the velocity to throw in certain areas, or a good change, or what ever other pitch he throws.

Personally, I think working with a mental game coach is a great idea…

This summer I coached pitchers from 12 to 45 (an adult league guy who is committed to getting the most out of his final years). I worked with most of them over the phone. We go through understanding how the mental game works (like learning to understand your mechanics so you know WHY you want to do certain things), but spend most of our time developing a mental approach for the player. Players end up saying “This is how I approach every game, every pitch. This is my plan, now I just have to go out and execute it.” I go into it a lot more at

If a player is into it, he learns how to generate confidence himself instead of needing to have good results first, how to recognize when he is starting to lose focus and composure (this is key b/c once you really lose it it is very hard to get it back)

In short, he learns how to consistently pitch at or near his best regardless of circumstances.

And he has a lot of fun.

Very important to me is that players don’t just learn baseball skills, they learn vital success skills that transfer to all areas of their lives. I work more with business executives right now than I do pitchers, and I tell you we work on the same things – composure, focus, goals, consistency, trust, and effectiveness.

You’re welcome to email me at if you’d like to have a short conversation to see if my personal coaching is for you.