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:
- I have a relentless curiosity on how to do things better;
- 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;
- 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?
The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance, by W. Timothy Gallwey
Play Big: Mental Toughness Secrets That Take Baseball Players to the Next Level, by Dr. Tom Hanson and Todd Pearl
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:
- Websites: http://headsupbaseball2.com/ & http://playbigbaseball.com/
- “Like” his page on Facebook (Play Big Academy),
- Follow him on Twitter, and
- Subscribe to his channel on YouTube.
Please direct any questions or comments to Dr. Tom Hanson below…