Geoff Miller

College Baseball Coaches Discuss the Mental Game

In Mental Game Info, Uncategorized on October 21, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Before the 2009 season began, we asked 42 Head Baseball Coaches at Division I universities to help us better understand how the mental game of baseball is perceived and used in college baseball.  Our goal was to learn more about how coaches taught the mental game in their programs, the biggest mental game challenges their players faced, and where mental skills training could make a bigger difference in the future.

Over the next few weeks, we will be releasing excerpts, survey data, and our thoughts on our interviews.  Part I of this series of posts includes the full list of coaches who agreed to participate (with thanks again to each coach for his opinions), lists of most popular answers on two key questions, and a bit of our commentary.

Thanks to these coaches for their participation:

Patrick Anderson, Hofstra

Elliott Avent, North Carolina State

Greg Beals, Ball State

Bob Brontsema, UC Santa Barbara

Tod Brown, North Dakota State

Pat Casey, Oregon State

Brian Cleary, Cincinnati

Tim Corbin, Vanderbilt

Jack Dahm, Iowa

Jim Foster, Rhode Island

Mike Fox, North Carolina

Nick Giaquinto, Sacred Heart

Billy Godwin, East Carolina

Dennis Healy, Marist

Gary Henderson, Kentucky

Rich Hill, University of San Diego

Tim Jamieson, Missouri

Joe Kinney, Lafayette

Vance Law, BYU

Monte Lee, College of Charleston

Kevin Leighton, Manhattan

Andy Lopez, Arizona

Scott Malone, Texas – Corpus Christi

Rich Maloney, Michigan

Spanky McFarland, James Madison

John Musachio, Oakland University

Bobby Pierce, IP Ft. Wayne

Chris Pollard, Appalachian State

Steve Rodriguez, Pepperdine

Jim Scholssnagle, TCU

Daron Schoenrock, Memphis

Mike Scolinos, Coppin State

Dan Simonds, Miami, OH

Doug Smith, UC Riverside

Steve Smith, Baylor

Jason Stein, Eastern Kentucky

Mike Stone, Massachusetts

Turtle Thomas, Florida International

Jim Toman, Liberty

Jeff Waggoner, Marshall

Bill Walkenbach, Cornell

Bob Whalen, Dartmouth

The first question coaches were asked was:

Q: “What is the number one mental mistake that you see your players make?”

The following list displays the most common answers given by our sample of coaches.

Number One Mental Mistake

Issues with Focus: 12 (22.7%)

Trying too hard; putting too much pressure on themselves: 7 (12.9%)

Dealing with Failure: 7 (12.9%)

Fear of Failure: 4 (7.4%)

Focus on Results instead of Processes: 4 (7.4%)

Lack of plan or approach: 4 (7.4%)

* 42 Coaches provided 54 responses to this question.

The last interview question coaches were asked mirrored the first one:

Q: “If there was one thing that you could get a sport psychology consultant to

do to help your team win, what would it be?”

One Thing

Staying in the Moment; One pitch at a time: 8 (10.6%)

Improve Focus: 6 (8%)

Improve Confidence: 6 (8%)

Help each individual one-on-one: 5 (6.6%)

Help players deal with failure: 5 (6.6%)

Help players develop routines: 5 (6.6%)

* 42 Coaches provided 75 responses to this question.

It is interesting to note that while we asked what the number ONE mental mistake players made and the ONE thing that a sport psychology consultant could do to help, many coaches gave us more than one answer.  Even more interesting is that there was much more agreement on the challenges their players faced than on the solutions that sport psychology consultants could provide to help their players.  This reinforces the need for better education for players and coaches so the mental game can be simplified and methods for addressing and strengthening mental toughness can be more commonly applied.

Part II coming soon…

Geoff Miller’s book, Intangibles: Big-League Stories and Strategies for Winning the Mental Game — in Baseball and in Life, was released in August, 2012. For more information and free sample chapters, please visit:

For more information, please contact Geoff Miller at miller@thewinningmind.com.

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