Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Here is a Method Helping Mike Trout Stay Calm Under Pressure (Dr. Tom Hanson Interview)

Tony Robbins has said that success is 80% psychology, 20% mechanics.  Certified Hypnotist and creator of the cartoon comic strip Dilbert, Scott Adams, has said humans are irrational 80% of the time, in his recent book: Win Bigly: Persuasion in a World Where Facts Don’t Matter.  We’re only rational when deciding on things like which soap to buy!  He adds that we make decisions based on emotion, THEN we rationalize.  Not the other way around.

The best athletes in the world are better at controlling the mental part of the game, and their emotions.  They focus on controlling only what they can control.  Which leads me to this interview with Dr. Tom Hanson…

I stumbled onto a first edition of Heads-Up Baseball back in 1995 when I was in High School.  It helped clear my mind of all the hitting mechanical books I was reading at the time that left me more confused than when I started.  I owe a lot to Drs. Hanson and Ravizza for helping me play 4-years of Division-1 baseball at Fresno State, tuition free.

Without further adieu, here are some time-stamps to help you navigate the interview:

  • About 2:30 minute mark, Dr. Hanson talks about his experience coaching baseball at UVA and D3 Skidmore College. It’s a challenge to find someone who has a PhD in psychology and experience coaching the game at the college level.
  • About 4:30 minute mark, I talk about how I stumbled upon the first version of Heads-Up Baseball, and how the information helped me cut through the white noise at a time when I felt overwhelmed with hitting mechanics, reading every book I could get my hands on.
  • About 6:00 minute mark, what were the top two or three things you and Dr. Ken Ravizza changed in the 2.0 version of Heads-Up Baseball?  One was this idea of changing “Trust” to “Compete”. The purpose of a routine is to compete.  Give 100% of what you have right now to the next pitch.  Problem right now is players are coming to college with a “showcase” mentality.  The importance of hitters being patient AND being aggressive.  Thoughts on including quotes and anecdotes from fresh coach and player faces in the book.
  • About 11:30 minute mark, if you could direct coaches to two concepts in the book, what would they be and why?  I liked the “Heads Up Practice” Chapter, but Dr. Hanson suggested “Chapter 2: The 3 Levels of Learning to Compete”, Know it, Do it, Own it. He also recommends reading Mike Scioscia’s Introduction of the book.  The Goldilocks Golden Rule, what’s right for the hitter right now (or today – know yourself).
  • About 18:00 minute mark, Dr. Hanson talks about the importance of having a model to explain the questions that come in about the mental game.  He goes into the RAMP-C model: Responsibility – the ability to respond, choose what you focus on, great question to ask: “How did you choose to respond?”  Awareness – being conscious of and how you typically respond under pressure or when you’re hitting well, extrovert/introvert, how are you feeling right now.  Dealing with “yellow” or “red” lights.  Mission – what would you like to have happen, purpose or swing intention.  Preparation – what can I do to get myself to feel a “green” light, training in the off-season, what am I going to prepare for the next pitch or season.  Compete (changed from “Trust”) – give 100% of what you have right now to get to win the next pitch.  Nobody on the Cubs felt like they had a “green” light for Game 7 of the World Series when they win it.  Control, Plan, Trust changed to Control, Commit, Compete
  • About 30-minute mark, what have you found most valuable utilizing information in this book with your own kids while navigating the craziness of travel baseball, son C.J. is 14yo and daughter Angelina is 11yo.  First edition of Heads Up Baseball was before kids, now 20-year reflection period to version 2.0.  Before 13/14yo Dr. Hanson wanted to create an environment of fun for his son.  Helping kid fall in love with sport.  Not constantly picking the kid apart.  It’s all about Relationship building.  No matter the message, if the relationship isn’t there, then the message doesn’t have its optimal effect.  Joe Maddon talked about building relationships as his priority in first 3 weeks of Spring Training with Cubs that first year, was building relationships with players.
  • About 39:00 minute mark, can you be a coach that can stretch out of being the best at conceptualizing and doing, and get more into understanding relationship.  Knowing your players, where they are in life, and how to relate is huge with players.

Unfortunately, the phone recording app I was using cut off another 20 minutes of the interview.  Here are some nuggets that were inconveniently left out:

How to change an athlete that has an emotional “red” or “yellow” light from his book Play Big: Mental Toughness Secrets That Take Baseball Players to the Next LevelUsing the ABC model:

  • Act Big,
  • Breath deep, and
  • Compete.

Dr. Hanson shared a conversation he had with Reggie Jackson, where he asked Reggie if he was confident all the time.  Reggie responded with, “Heck no!”  Reggie said he faked it a lot of the time.  Act Big.

Dr. Hanson shared a conversation between Mike Trout and Dr. Ken Ravizza.  Mike Trout likes to finish his exhale before getting in the box.  If he gets in the box without doing that, he steps out and finishes it.  That’s Breathing deep.  Mike Trout also said he likes to stride slow to the plate in order to slow down the moment.

We also talked about where you can find Dr. Hanson online and the socials:


Book Resources Mentioned in the Interview…

Hitting Training For Baseball & Softball Swing Trainers | Hitting Performance Lab

Cutting Down On Hitting Slump Length & Frequency With Dr. Tom Hanson’s ExpertiseDr. Tom Hanson: Heads Up Baseball

You guys know Dr. Tom Hanson right?!

He wrote an impressive book on the mental part of hitting with Ken Ravizza called Heads Up Baseball: Playing The Game One Pitch At A Time in the 90’s, which both authors will be releasing a 2.0 version very soon.

This was one of my favorite books when I was playing back in the day 😀

And by the way, just because fast-pitch isn’t mentioned, believe me, his psychology principles work for softball as well.

For those not familiar with Dr. Hanson’s background, here’s a short bio, he:

  • Played baseball through college, got my Ph.D. in Education specializing in sport psychology from the University of Virginia in 1991.
  • Was UVA’s hitting coach for three seasons.
  • Was a tenured professor and head baseball at Skidmore College (NY)
  • Worked full-time as New York Yankees mental game guy in 2001.
  • Has coached in the Angels, Twins, Rangers, and other organizations.

The above video is Dr. Tom Hanson going over what the “Yips” are, and how to fix them.

Without further adieu,

Here is the…


Interview with Dr. Tom Hanson…

If you were to train me for four weeks for a HUGE tournament and had a million dollars on the line, what would the training look like? What if I trained for eight weeks?

1. Take my full Play Big assessment so we can see with precision:

  • How clear your thinking is on the 6 dimensions;
  • What motivates you;
  • Your behavioral style (so I know how to coach you and see what style you’re likely to play best at).

2. We review your results and determine how to best leverage your strengths and address holes in your game.

3. We would co-create a training plan tailored to you.

4. Having been doing this for 30 years I have a lot of tools. Some normal like goals, breathing and visualizing. Some pretty far out such as “tapping”, where we leverage Chinese-based meridian in your body.

5. We have some training you do each day for about 20 minutes, then specific things to do while you are practicing baseball. There isn’t a mental game and a physical game — they are one. So I’d teach you to practice that way.


What makes you different? Who trained you or influenced you?

I’m different because:

  1. I have a relentless curiosity on how to do things better;
  2. I have a liberal arts back ground. That means I’m trained to see how different things are related. I pull things together from different worlds;
  3. I’m open minded. I look all over the place for approaches and techniques to help people. I’m a learner, not a knower.


What are your favorite instructional books or resources on the subject? If people had to teach themselves, what would you suggest they use?Dr. Tom Hanson - Play Big: Mental Toughness Secrets That Take Baseball Players To The Next Level



What are the biggest mistakes and myths you see in hitting? What are the biggest wastes of time?

Hitting coaches most often operate with an inadequate model of what they are working with. They operate too often as if they are working on a machine, not a person. Sure they have some sense of the mental game, but there is sooooooooo much more going on than their operating model accounts for.

You can’t just see a “flaw” and correct it without affecting the whole “organism” — the player may be mad at you for it, may think about it too much, may now be doing something his dad told him to do the opposite, etc.

The key is that coaching happens in a relationship. It happens in an emotional context. Relationship enables or disables coaching. Mechanics are just a part of hitting; what you see in a hitter isn’t really what’s happening with that hitter.

You may think you know what he’s doing but you may not. I’ve finally found a coach I’ll let work with my son because I saw how he:

  • Coached for my son’s benefit, not his own
  • Talked and built a relationship and some understanding before he did anything else
  • He watched him hit for a while before he asked my son a few more questions. He was coaching my son the human, not the boy hitting machine.


Who is good at hitting despite being poorly built for it? Who’s good at this who shouldn’t be?

No one. The “built for it” means they’ve got great hand-eye athleticism. You can’t hit without that. Body type is a smaller part of it, so there can be wide variance.


Who are the most controversial or unorthodox hitters? Why? What do you think of them?

I don’t know.

A really good hitter is able to take in info from hitting coaches (or other sources) and integrate it with who they are. The hitter is responsible for his own swing.

I expose my 13U son to many approaches, well, some, and he knows he has to work out for himself how he hits best. I don’t want him swinging and then looking at me, or another coach, to see how it was. HE needs to know.

A hitter must soon get to where coaches are resources for him, not authority figures dictating his swing. As parents we need to find places where that is.


Who are the most impressive lesser-known teachers?

I’d say me.  I’m sitting on a lot of good info but not putting myself out there. I coach a lot of executives and love to watch my own kids play.

I will shout out Ken Ravizza. He’s awesome. He and I will be launching Heads-Up Baseball 2.0 in the next month or so. Get on the early notice list here:


Have you trained others to do this? Have they replicated your results?

No. That’s coming pretty soon.

The best way to expand your model of what you’re working with (a human, not a machine), might be to take my assessment. It gives you feedback on elements of “human” you didn’t think about before, and certainly didn’t think you could measure.

Read a lot, be a learner.

Thank you Dr. Tom Hanson for sharing such great insight and knowledge!

Remember guys, knowledge IS NOT power…it’s POTENTIAL power.  Please put Dr. Hanson’s work to use.

Here’s how you can stay updated with Dr. Hanson:

Please direct any questions or comments to Dr. Tom Hanson below…