Ep. # 010: Dr. Tom Hanson- Sports Psychologist/ Founder of the “Play Big Academy” / Author of “Play Big” / Co-Author “Heads Up Baseball / Executive Coach
Join Evan and Dr. Tom Hanson as they discuss some of the key concepts in “Heads Up Baseball 2.0” co-authored with Dr. Ken Ravizza. Dr. Hanson shares insight into his personal baseball journey, what he’s learned from interviewing some of the “Greats” like Hank Aaron and Pete Rose and his experience working with professional athletes. The skills and tools Dr. Hanson teach truly prepare a baseball player to be their very best in baseball and in life.
What You’ll Learn:
02:29 How Dr. Tom Hanson got started in Sports Psychology
05:48 When he began working with MLB Teams
10:15 Being your own real life “MLB The Show” character
15:23 Players he had the most fun training
19:40 Uncovering what made Derek Jeter good under pressure
23:40 How players can use an internal “Green, Yellow, Red Light System” as a guide
26:01 Using “Breath” to slow the game down
31:25 Being self aware; Know yourself
35:51 Explaining the RAMP-C Process in “Heads Up Baseball 2.0”
41:31 What it means to “Know It, Do It, Own It”
45:16 Advice to Parents: Strategies for “debriefing” with your ball player after a game
52:33 Power of Visualization
55:41 How being a Heads Up Baseball Player also makes you a better Teammate
Thank you for being here with us! Evan and the Born To Baseball Team are looking forward to celebrating your success and sharing this journey together.
If you enjoyed this episode please consider leaving a rating or review on Apple or wherever you’re listening here. This will help other ball players find the Born To Baseball Podcast and give us more chances to shout out our listeners!
Now, let’s play ball!
Read show notes here.
Dr. Hanson Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/headsupbaseball/
Twitter: @HeadsUpBasebal2 @DrTomHanson
Dr. Hanson Websites/ Programs:
Born To Baseball Links:
Episode 010_DR TOM HANSON SPORTS PSYCHOLOGIST_FOUNDER OF THE PLAY BIG ACADEMY_AUTHOR OF PLAY BIG_COAUTHOR OF HEADS UP BASEBALL_EXECUTIVE COACH
The transcription below was provided for your convenience through an automated service. Please excuse any unintended errors made in the process.
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Calling all ball players. Are you ready to take your game to the next level? Were you born to baseball? Then bring it in? it's game time.
Hey guys, welcome to the Born To Baseball Podcast. Today I'm here with Dr. Tom Hanson, who's coached baseball players ranging from Little leaguers to world champions for over 35 years. Dr. Hanson earned a degree in sports psychology from the University of Virginia. He was a professor and head baseball coach at Skidmore College in New York. He's worked with many professional sports and business organizations as a performance enhancement coach and consultant, including New York Yankees, Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins as well as Microsoft and Verizon. In addition to co authoring heads up baseball with Dr. Ken Ravisa, Dr. Hansen authored Play Big "Mental Toughness Secrets That Take Baseball Players to the Next Level". Thank you for being here.
Dr. Tom Hanson 1:24
Your welcome. Thank you for the introduction. Sounds like an interesting guy.
Dr. Tom Hanson 1:32
I'm looking forward to see what he has to say.
So I actually first learned about you when my parents bought me a copy of heads up baseball 2.0 with Dr. Ken Ravizza, and that was that was a great book. Like once I was finished. I had I told my parents I have to go back and read that again.
Dr. Tom Hanson 1:48
Oh, yeah. You read the whole thing.
Yeah. It was really great.
Dr. Tom Hanson 1:52
That's, that's great. That's great. There's a because it's not a small book we decided to include err on the side of inclusion rather than making it you know, minimal. And so I respect that you that you read that whole thing because it's also designed where you don't have to read it all you could really just pick it up and read a quote and put it down. But it really is designed to go start to finish.
So I'd like you to share a bit about your journey. So what inspired you to become a sports psychologist and how did you begin working with different athletes?
Dr. Tom Hanson 2:29
I would say I got into it because I was really good at baseball when I was young. And then not good enough to go beyond college. I ended up playing division three ball I had some great experiences along the way. One of the biggest things for me was I was always really good because I was big and tall. So I say that not boastfully but just because I because I didn't work for it. I just was just came out and and could hit and play the game without having to work at it, and then what I ran into a ceiling my junior year of high school I really thought I should have been playing and I wasn't. And so that next winter in Minnesota or I grew up in Moorhead, Minnesota, I worked at it I bought a couple books, the "Science of Hitting" by Ted Williams and the "Art of Hitting 300" by Charlie Lau and I went down my basement and I swung a bat swing this big brats bat, you know, this big, there's a way to read that I swung that took a big chunk out of the pool table we had in the basement. And on one of my own it's an outside pitch. Took a chunk out of the pool table. And I came out that year and then just crushed I just mashed the ball set hitting records and home runs and and it was really great. But I still wasn't really good enough. No one was around me was going to division one school and I kind of said okay, I'm going to Division Three school. I went to Luther College in Iowa and my next big event, there was a well, two things one. Well, that happened in this order. In my Chist- during Christmas break during my sophomore year of college, I had to declare a major and I didn't know what I wanted to major in and I literally sat down at my desk at my home and said, Okay, what do what do I like? And I said, Oh, sports. So I write, okay, sports, and then my, my editing head was like, Okay, well, what's something real? I said, Well, I had this psychology class, basic requirement, and I really, I liked it. I liked the teacher. And I liked that they just were really telling me stuff that I already knew just putting names to it. So it was, it was pretty easy for me. And then two weeks later, so I said, Okay, I'm majoring in psychology. Two weeks later, I was in a bookstore. And I see this book called sports psyche, which I can see on my shelf right over the top of my computer here to this day, sports psyche. It's like oh my gosh, there's a field called sports psychology. And so I then wrote some letters because nobody at Luther and then 1982 really knew about sports psychology and so I wrote to where there were graduate programs and came back if you really wanted to work with people who were having trouble and you want to help them be normal go into psychology and if you really want to help people be great. Go into physical education, what became kinesiology? So I took that went to University of Illinois, fantastic time there really learning about how to help people play great. Then I went to-I wanted to be with the best so then University of Virginia for my PhD because there was a guy named Bob Rotella and I thought he was the best and it was fantastic experience to learn from the best. Backing up though, back to this other experience at Luther, that was so pivotal to me, was that which is in decor, Iowa, we finished last place my freshman year of high school, I started every game, but we got last place.
Dr. Tom Hanson 5:48
And then, but what we had was great leaders. We had these three guys from my sophomore year, that we're really strong leaders and they're like, come on, man. We can do this. We can do this. We'd have get togethers. And, and we talk over things. It's like you know who's better than Joe Knight at second base in this conference? Nobody! And who's better at third base and Layton Whistie? Nobody! And we got Jake Comin, we got Scooby. And it's like, let's go. And darn if we didn't win the conference, we went from worst to first and went to the regional. We had a goal to have our coach be the conference Coach of the Year and he was regional Coach of the Year.
That is amazing.
Dr. Tom Hanson 6:28
It is because I mean, we had talent, so it's not I heard you say skills and mindset. And so it's it wasn't just that we had meetings and talked about it. We had some good players. But we did go from worst to first and won it those next three years while I was there, and then it was another 20 until they did it again. And so just seeing that, oh my gosh, that power of leadership. It wasn't the coach changed. It was the power of leadership. And and of teamwork that was pulled together with everyone focus in the same direction, staying focused on a on a together on one target is just a has massive power to it. So that's one of my principles is stay on target, pick a clear target and stay on it. And that's what we did. And so that's sort of how I got into it here. So I can go more into, you know, further on with my history, if you want. Pick it up from there, but let me see if if you have any questions on, on what
yeah, I mean, if you could share a little bit about your work with some major league teams and then just professional athletes and teams.
Dr. Tom Hanson 7:40
Yeah, gladly. So just to round that out. After Virginia. I went to head baseball coach and a college professor at Skidmore College in upstate New York, was there for seven years and then decided to leave cuz I really wanted to work more with athletes and executives and I moved to DC and then I worked with the Texas Rangers and I worked with With the twins, and then the Yankees called up, and that's how I moved down here to Tampa 2001. And that just lasted that one year. And I've been here ever since. So those that was my working with, you know, this is just the general history of from where I'm coming from. And in there I wrote Heads Up Baseball, as you mentioned, in 90s, and then Heads Up Baseball 2, and Play Big. So I would say working with professional players, a good story. I mean, it's really about freedom. And it's really about freedom. But I kind of liken myself to in my highest version of myself, sort of sports, Abraham Lincoln, about emancipation and freedom because athletes, like myself and everyone else, really we tend to limit ourselves with the beliefs that we have. I can think of a player, I can't really think I can really name him. But back early one of the early ones when I was with the Rangers, who had been in the minor leagues for seven or eight years, and was really struggling and always would get hurt and get into this in that, and as we talked about mindset, and how he saw himself something as a victim, like, oh, things are always going wrong for me, and why did this happen to me and this guy did this. And this guy did this, always looking outside of himself at what was going on. And through our conversations, he shifted that and able to be like, you know what, I'm responsible for this. I've kind of been in what I would refer to now as a trance, like you go into a trance, and people think of trance of like a hypnosis and Oh, you're going to go dancing with a broom or something. But we go into trances all the time, pretty much all day, every day. It just doesn't seem that way. You don't you know, think of it because your experience and so it gets It's a mindset of like a call of being a victim, which he was being to being a player, which means he's creating from the inside and said, You know what, here's how I'm going to be as a player. And it's as if you take on a character. I liken it now very much to like when you play MLB the show?
Yes, I have it.
Dr. Tom Hanson 10:20
Yeah. And so at the beginning, you kind of pick the strengths, and then therefore weaknesses of the guy and you create this character, or the computer spits out a default one, right? You just jump in, and there's your guy, or you can go in and give them a beard. Oh, and long hair, and this bat strength and this foot speed and so forth. And so that's, there's the default, and then there's the one that you create. And with this guy, it's like, you know, what I'm going to create myself is this guy. And I'll even go with having people create character names for who they are, when when you're being a victim? What's the name for that? And I don't we can't even say on a podcast. And and then when you're really who you want to be your highest version of yourself that you selected and that you developed and trained, who is that and give a name to that person. And then it's really he this guy shows like, I'm going to be that and just a light bulb went off. And off, he went to end up being in the big leagues and being on a World Series winning team. He just really went to from living in sort of a nightmare. riding the bus. It's in the minor leagues to live in the dream, winning the World Series, and having that's really, really strong, major league career.
Yeah, that's really awesome. That's a really great success story.
Dr. Tom Hanson 11:52
Yeah, thanks. Anotherone that comes to mind. Is is really fun where this guy recently mildly guy was was really struggling and and every time he went 0-4, he would go for extra work in a batting cage and try to fix whatever was wrong. And what we talked about was like maybe there is nothing wrong other than you're just playing baseball. Baseball is hard at any level, much less professional level. And so why don't you find a way to go back and evaluate your at bats and see really if there's something for your hand path needs to get fixed. Something with your hips or your waste or your this or that, because that really can lead you down a rabbit hole and then it's just one thing after another. Again, it's a fundamental mindset of something's wrong. And I got to, I got to fix it. If you're coming from something's wrong, there's nothing that will fix it. Because you think something's wrong. It's a it's a mindset. It's like being in a pool, you go into the pool, let's go and pull down here, Florida, not one in New York at the moment. You're wet. And you can't really make a dry move. Because you're wet. If someone throws you a towel, that's how you dry off, right? Well, you're in the pool. So everything's gonna be wet. And so you get that that's a mindset of like, hey, something's wrong with me. Then you're, you'll just move from thing to thing and never get it. And so this guy cracked that. And it's like, oh, let me elevate which is one of my main principles also is to understand how we're designed as humans, that we have thoughts and feelings, but we are not our thoughts and feelings. There's somebody inside there that's watching the thoughts and feelings. And so he got really good at elevating and looking to Oh, look, where my mind goes right now is I want to fix something. I'm over for him frustrated, so there must be something to do and that I need to fix. And he could watch that and say ah, Look at that. Look at my mind go that way. And do I really think there's something to fix? No, I don't think so. So let's go watch Netflix or something to get myself at peace. So I can have clarity and calmness which is much more important than trying to fix his hand path not that not that. Mechanics aren't important physics applies to the world. It's just that really you want to have access to your talent. So that's how I would summarize is what I do with this whole like blinking thing is it's helped people have access to their talent, you can't play better than you can play. I couldn't help you play for the Yankees this afternoon. Right? Come on, Evan believe. Believe you can hit 95 on the black and no. However you having access to your talent means I can play this well. And I do play that well. But most players that can play x, well, and they perform it x minus n, where n in some, some measure, they play below that. And that's more of the mental game thing is access to your ability, then doing something impossible.
Wow, that that's really great. So, is there one athlete or team that you had a lot of like the most fun training lists and why did you have like so much fun with them?
Dr. Tom Hanson 15:37
Well, I love that question, because that's what I most want to do. When I was with your beloved Yankees, it wasn't that fun. It was a dream come true. That wasn't that fun because they kind of weren't ready for it. It was a little bit more than they were ready for because some I didn't play by their standards. I didn't play me. I didn't play professionally. I played through college. I was. I was I was an all Iowa conference player. And so it was sort of like what's Dr. shrinky doing here and it got it can easily fall into Hey, if something's wrong with you mentally go talk to Hanson. Second, you're gonna imagine how long the line at my door was for that. And so that wasn't that much fun. Even though there were great, great highlights. You know? What, why would I? Because it because what I really want to have is, is fun. And so what's funnest is when someone's really into it, I've got a player. I got a player that comes to mind. It's a softball player, high school softball player, that it's like, well, I'm number 25 in the country. And I want to be number one. What do I need to do? And it was fun. It's like, she there was nothing she never didn't feel like there was something wrong with her. It wasn't my Like, oh, I'm ready to quit baseball I have the yips if you see my site yipsbegone.com, I work with a ton of players and still do major leaguers to 10 year olds who have trouble making a simple throw. I get more of that than what this where this one was coming from, which is like, I want to be the best. And that's what's fun when I when I have those, that that's the funnest. It's deeply satisfying to help someone out of a slump. But like this person, I made a video for her a visualization exercise where she would then see these better and better and better versions of herself in front and then go more of her and then morph into and go into imagine what that's like. See what you'll see here, what you'll hear, feel what you feel when it's even bigger and better version of you. And then I get these texts ah You know, how's it going? Great. And then I talked to her even, you know, there was apparently not even a month, Well, I've done it every day. And sometimes twice. And it's like, that's fun. Because then you've got someone that's, that's really into it and you can, you can really blast blast off. I was talking with a golfer yesterday in England do a lot of stuff on zoom like this. And he just has really taken the stuff and run with it clear out a lot of negative emotions. I do some interesting stuff with tapping and other kind of what's called psycho sensory modalities, not just talking, and not even just visualizing. Certainly using the breath and routines and the stuff that someone would normally think of it's sports psychology, which would be in heads up baseball. A lot of stuff that I do most of isn't in the book. Because here's the here's the thing. Most of the stuff you hear about in sports Psychology, the routines and the breaths and so forth is about tools that will help you deal with stress that comes up, or anxiety or fear, or maybe even frustration. What I'm most interested in is having that not come up. That makes sense. How do you know Derek Jeter? I love Derek Jeter got to talk with him a lot. And I liked it because you know, quick Derek Jeter story. Yeah, Mike. Besides when I robbed him of a home run during batting practice, reached up over the fence was funny. But since you're a Yankee fan, right, they're ready for their Jeter story.
Dr. Tom Hanson 19:46
So I'm sitting on my couch in 2000 ish. And watching him up to bat some playoff game. They're down by a run, and he's up to bat. And I'm sitting there on the couch and I'm watching him and it just comes to me. It's like You know what he looks like a little leaguer. And like, with all due respect, as in, hey, looks like that 12 year old kid that can just rake that's like, Oh no, Jeter's up backup. And he steps up and he's all wiggly and like, Whoa, this dude is confident and this dude is gonna, he's gonna hit the ball. Every thing about him, said he's gonna hit it. It might not be pretty when it wasn't, you know, the most beautiful swing, often, but all he's gonna frickin hit it. I'm just gonna get it done. And sure enough, he did. And they said they scored a run and you know, they win. And so a year later, I end up getting a call and I I'm working for the Yankees. And I'm helping people transition from triple A to the big leagues. So what do I do? I talked to people who've done it and say, How did you do that? That's mostly how I've done my career. My research for my PhD was interviewing Hank Aaron and Rod Carew, Stan Musial, Carl Yastrzemski, Pete Rose, Tony Oliva the best the great hitters head and said, How did you do that? And then I help other people do it. It isn't, you know, I was in Division Three, athlete myself. But I'm sitting there talking to Derek Jeter and I said, How do you do that? How do you be really good under pressure? And he was pressure. I said, I go, Yeah, like 50,000 people in the playoffs and they're all screaming and everyone's going. He goes, ah, because that's fun. Really is it? Yeah, he goes more I go with 50,000 people, because yeah, more people's more fun. Really? So he said, Yeah, you know, to me, it's just like little league. And I, oh, my gosh, I can't but my jaw just hit the floor. I can't believe you just said that. Because I told him my couch. Part of the story. He's like, yeah, so you see, the point there is that he saw the situation as fun so He wasn't in need of all the routines and everything you read when you read Heads Up Baseball 2.0 that those are great to have and I'm all for him obviously I teach them what I want you to people understand is that much bigger than that it's like iceberg that's what's on the surface much bigger is the belief system underneath. And the key distinction underneath belief system is is this a fun challenge? Or is it a dangerous threat? If you're up to bat and you feels like a dangerous threat? Well then you better have bunch of stuff to go to be breathing and routines and focal points and all all that stuff. And if it's like this is fun, oh my gosh, like like a wiffle ball Hey, you know Evans up back up, you know, Evans like here and it's like, oh, did you do your pre pitch routine? Well, me, well, you maybe did but not something You're conscious stuff. You're just up there waiting.
Dr. Tom Hanson 22:55
ready to just mash. So there I don't know. I mean, I don't know. Well, that is true. I also don't know. I can talk very authoritatively, about this. And then every person is different. And every situation is different. So what I just said about somebody might be the opposite for someone else.
I know you also bring up the philosophy of the internal, like lights like, green, yellow, red, and knowing which one you're at. So how can you youth baseball player determine what they're feeling in? Like real game time?
Dr. Tom Hanson 23:40
Okay, cool. That's a super cool question. Well, one is to hang on to being 12. I'll answer your question in a moment. But the bigger thing again, is, why do you play baseball? For fun, right, and it's more and more kids like your age might never even play a pickup game. sad is that can be might never play in the street or someone's backyard, or that everything to the left of second base is foul, because you only have three guys. Something like that. That's, that's beautiful. And I, and I wish that for everyone. And that's the fun, the spirit of fun. And it can be such a dangerous time right now for your sport because it's so parent focused and structured that you can lose that to number one thing is that thing fail in a fun, like, you know, I'm gonna mash this ball. Think of that as a green light. When you're watching your parents drive. They go up to an intersection. If the light is green, they just go. And so each pitch in a game is like an intersection or crossroads. And so you can check the traffic light that's inside you. And if you're feeling good, like Yeah, let's go ahead and bring it. I'm going to mash this or pitch. It's like this ball is going right there. You're about to sit down brother That's a green light. You're feeling good. yellow lights. Whoa, I feel not sure it's all speeding up. It's like it's going faster. I feel nervous or everyone's yelling and no, that's done swing at that high one. Devin that was over your head. Come on. Oh, like I didn't know that. So that's a Yeah, that's what I call a yellow light. And then a red light is even just worse. You're freaking out. It's all speeding up. You're having trouble breathing. So if you think of having this traffic light inside of you, it's like, how am I feeling? Your thought goes in? Am I really feeling I'm feeling good? Really good. And if you're feeling good, roll on, off you go. But if you have any kind of yellow light, you feel a little unsettled. That's when you can go to the different tools. Because now we're in the moment you're not going to be able to sit and say, Oh, just have fun. You can say that. But it's a lot easier said than done. And you can't just tell someone Hey, Derek Jeter just had fun you go have fun. It's a much deeper process in that to do what I call inner lens crafting, which is the work to get someone to see things differently. That's back on that fun challenge versus a dangerous threat. But you can use a breath and that would be the number one thing I would say for someone to do when they're on the field is to take a breath. So when you're in the hole, take a few deep breaths in, out. Slow it all down like that to three or four breaths and if you're really nervous, do it in the dugout, before you're in the hole. And then well you probably in the hole and leak. I mean, you're probably in the dugout the whole time. So then really breathing. If you feel boom, your heart's beating, it's like oh, Evan, you're on deck. Oh, you feel that in your body. Go to your breath. Inhale. Ideally through in and out through the nose but you may have too much adrenaline going to him excited to keep it in and out through your nose. So that in and out Your mouth is fine, but to see if you can bring it down to your belly but you might not be able to do that go into your chest The best thing to do is to practice it like right now you're listening in and then out and really finish it. You read hits a baseball you know, Mike trout said, Oh, like main things you got working with Ken Ravisa the finish his breath, be outside the batter's box, finish his breath, finish the exhale and then step in. Because it sounds good. I'll take a breath in as he's breathing out, he steps in, good, let's go. And that's it's all speeding up the breath can really slow it down, use the breath to slow the game down. And really then lock in on on what you need to do. So I would say use a breath And I would say be really clear about something simple that you're up to do. What when I said I interviewed Hank Aaron, Rod Carew, Stan Musial, Pete Rose most of what they said I go, is, Hank Aaron, what were you doing? No. First of all, what do you mean he was doing? He's hitting know, what were you in that batter's box to do? And he said, I wanted to put the fat part of the bat on the ball. Stan Musial. He's the number two all time total basis leader, you know, total base. homerun? , four, four, right. Double. Oh, so that's six. And so the all time leader is Hank Aaron. And he's, he is like 12 miles ahead of Stan Musial so it's just insane. here and how did you do that? And then he told me, and Stan Mutual's number two guy, I talked to him. What were you doing in the back batter's box. And he said, Well, I always knew where the fat part of the bat was. And I want to put it on the ball. And I would, and I was like, Yeah, but come on what else Mr. PhD wants it to be more complicated, but that's really what he was doing. So if you so helping a 12 year old, or a 32 year old Major Leaguer, I would say, really go to that breath. Really go to the breath. And then be super clear on something really specific, fat part of the bat on the ball. When I'm pitching, this ball is going right there. Take your breath, visualize the ball going there. And then just trust just let it go with the visualizing like say for a pitcher here is sort of like when you go out to eat, you'll sit here's a menu and say, Okay, I'll have the ham and cheese sandwich. And then they go and they make it and you just trust them to make it and bring it to you. So you can think of the visualizing is saying, okay, body. I'll have a fastball there please with You know the dressing on the side? And then just let your body throw it.
Yeah, that's, that's really, really great.
Dr. Tom Hanson 30:09
We know that our bodies and our results will match what we're thinking about. So how can we implement that and what does really being self aware mean?
Dr. Tom Hanson 30:25
Well, that's a way above average question Evan. Being aware is mean being conscious of in the book would give an example of like, think of your the big toe say on your right foot right now. And then wiggle it. Now it's in your consciousness awareness means in your consciousness. It doesn't mean you're thinking about it. It just means it's in. It's occurring to you. So what I would technically say since you're going to ask a big league question can get big league big words, it's going to, like it's occurring to me. It's in my field of consciousness. Where as now, it it. It wasn't. But now it is. But while I'm talking like this, maybe even lost your big toe, now bring it back. And now think about what you had for dinner last night. What do you have for dinner last night?
Had some soup.
Dr. Tom Hanson 31:25
All right, cool. And then you just lost your big toe, right? Because you went, your mind had to go back. But now your big toes back. So that's awareness is having it be in your consciousness, having it be sort of in play. And so being self aware, means having a lot of consciousness of how you actually roll. in baseball. I'll liken it to go back to MLB the show since a lot of guys listening would have played that. It'd be like okay, you're on base and knowing You're a speed guy, or knowing that you're a big slugger, and you're not gonna steal this base. So just click ahead and get around to your next at bat. Whereas, like my son loves to steal bases. And so he always gives himself a fast guy and steals bases. So it's really knowing what you're good at and what you're not good at. It's my own challenge, and I work with it with executives at the same just to broaden it out. Like what are you really good at? I like this term. This guy Dan Sullivan has your unique ability. What are you uniquely? good at and then really do that? You know, I had a chance, for example to and this is again, how good your question is. I have my son hit with a couple of big leaguers. I know these guys are in town here so we were able to take my 16 year old son to go hit with Kyle schwarber the Cubs and Oscar Mercado. The Indians, and I pulled him aside both those guys individually and I said, hey, my son 16, what do you got for advice? And they both said the exact same thing. Know yourself, you just got to go and be yourself. And so it's a question like, Well, what does that even mean? It's like, well, if you fast yet, well, then don't try and hit home runs. Have you ever hit a home run, no but I really want to, okay, well, it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense to do that. Maybe it comes on like Mercado is a great example because he's hitting homeruns now and he's in his mid mid late 20s, I think. And he didn't, I mean, he's a fast guy. So he needs to be square the ball up and and then get on base and steal the base and take an extra base on something and then score on a ground ball know yourself and, and really focus on being That, that which you are, I mean, it's, it's endless. I could talk all day about what it can mean to be aware, but people mostly aren't very good at it is what else? So I'll say one thing Joe Maddon, now of the angels told me that he's astonished how often, Major League players don't know what pitch they hit best. They'll ask, Hey, where do you Where do you hit the ball? The best? I don't know, is the fastball no So I mean, like we're in the strike zone. Where did you swing? Ah, I don't know. Or even sometimes, okay, hit the home run. What did you hit? I don't know. And, and so it's, it's really knowing yourself, and it just could really go on and on. So I'll just I'll liken it back to this though. Just to kind of wrap it together, is when you're at your best, with a name for that character. Like the beast or The man or what other ones if I had just like, you know, unstoppable or Mr. fun you know, you could put Mr something on it and just make it up like it's a character like a Marvel character. And then when you're at your worst, I'm cry baby or Mr. Weiner, or Mr. Why me or my god and then okay well that's now you become self aware you can the same you it can be this or this and then the power comes into what choose not get good at choosing you know, Mr. Wonderful get good at choosing and being that guy and deliberately going out and doing that. So.
So there that's my answer.
Going back to the book has a baseball 2.0 you outlined a process called RAMPC where the C stands for compete could Tell us a little more about like what RAMPC stands for.
Dr. Tom Hanson 36:03
Yeah, it came. Because I like models and I like to have a conceptual structure for things it's like so it wouldn't just be random things. I've mostly I've kind of thrown out somewhat random things here so far. And I didn't want to do that. I want to have it be a book that has a where it all holds together. So we talked to Ken and I talked who passed away now two, almost two years ago, year and a half ago. It's still hard to believe it. And it'd be like, okay, responsibility and awareness are these to be responsible. Choose your own thinking, instead of just being on default. Choose I'm going to be Mr. Wonderful. I'm not going to be Mr. whiner. And so that's choosing I'm going to constantly choose. So that's at the heart of the whole thing. And then awareness. Ken was just So huge on this knowing it's it's two parts of awareness. One is knowing yourself and how you generally are. I spoke to that someone, and another is knowing what's going on in this moment. And so what you want to be able to do is be good at that. So that's R and A responsibility and awareness. What's another fundamental. Mission. Just a sense of clarity. This is what I'm going up there to do. Like I said, Aaron fat part of the bat on the ball, that's a mission he's on a mission to put the fat part of the bat in the ball. ARod said that was his mantra just repeated I I hit the ball solid. So what he said I hit the ball solid. What do you do for them I hit the ball solid. And so that was his mission for hitting in a bigger can have a bigger mission in terms of being a major leaguer something it can take different points but having a clear target. So we said that was big, and then a preparation is huge mentally prepare. Getting yourself ready is to compete is a huge part of it. Because sometimes guys get in I used to throw a lot of batting practice. I could tell a guy got in, was he really ready to hit? Or was he hitting to get ready or was he ready to hit? And so, mental preparation Are you ready? To Get ready. So that's ramp. And that was we actually picked these and then I realized that it formed a word. It wasn't that we wanted to ramp up to compete, it was just luck, really. And then C, ramp C, by the C, you can see we didn't go out of our way to make it RAMPY or make it one word, because then the whole thing really becomes about competing, see is compete. And that's what we found people were most missing when we talk to college coaches and ask them what they pro coaches. What is what do you mean what's missing in today's athletes? They don't compete. It's a showcase mentality. It's a you know, what can I do? But they don't get out there and compete. So we really oriented the book toward helping people compete because it's not the mental game is not about thinking my early days at Skidmore as a head coach coming out with a new fresh PhD. It the guys under, I it's like, Hey, you guys did a good job with your breaths. And you did you routines. And yeah, we lost 13 to two. But you, you worked your process, it's like, well, no, that's not it, that you got to do it with this will to win. People say, Oh, he's about the process. And I would also say no, it's not. It's about playing to win. And I'm going to focus on my process, but with it in my mind that I'm here to win. That's the goal of the game. Now the purpose of baseball is something whatever you want it to be, but the goal is to win. So to be in integrity with the game, you play to win within the rules. So That's that's how that was RAMPC and kind of how it came to be.
Could you like sort of define competing? Is it like just giving 100%? Or is it that willingness to win?
Dr. Tom Hanson 40:15
When I asked Ken what it all boiled down to, for him after probably 40 years of doing it, I know had to be. Yeah, maybe more. So what is it all boiled down to because we'd have these conversations on the phone and record them. And that's how we wrote the book. And he said, getting 100% of what you got right now to win the next pitch. So what do you have right now? I feel tired. I feel like Okay, can you get all of that? energy and focus commitment to executing your mission on this pitch? That's competing.
I know you guys. You talked about if you have 60%, that day giving 100% of that 60% to win that next pitch
Dr. Tom Hanson 40:57
Exactly, exactly. Because it's so to focus on how tired you are, how can I don't, I can't feel my swing today, I just, I don't feel right. I don't feel good. This guy struck me out the last two times. And then if the all the energy you have on that is taken away from putting the fat part of the bat in the ball, if that's your mission, and so whatever you do have to say I'm clear on this mission, I'm going to execute it. Even though it's almost laughable to think that I'm going to touch the ball, I'm still going to be locked in on executing that mission.
So we know that quality, preparation and practice are really important because it helps us reinforce what we're learning build confidence and be consistent. know it, do it and own it. Are the three steps a system that you teach. So can you tell us more about the steps and how they're different from each other?
Dr. Tom Hanson 41:49
To Know and know something intellectually? Hey, I, I should have a routine and and breathe or I I'm gonna have fun We could go back to jeter. Oh, yeah. See? I should have fun. That's right. Like if I if someone said, Hey, Dr. Hanson, what should I tell my son about to have a good mental game? I'd say, well go and have fun. And it's correct. It's just that that's a concept. And it's like knowing how to do push ups. I know how to do push ups. But it doesn't help doesn't change my body. Unless I do push ups. I got to do the push ups. And then that's doing it. We got know it and then do it and then own it. Own it would be in pushups would be that I know what I need to do. For my push ups. I'm not listening to someone else about how to do a push up or how many I should do. I know for myself, this is what has me be at my best. If I'm an pushup competition, that's one thing if I'm just coach, push ups now No, I want to feel strong and and have good energy. And so here's what I need to do for push up just knowing what I need to do. So know it, do it own it for say having fun would be Oh yeah, I know I should do it. And then you can actually go out and practice having fun. And then you and then you figure out that last step, you figure out how you do it. And what's fun for you. And are you a talker? Like Pete Rose, Derek Jeter would talk a lot. He'd be talking to people when he's on deck. And some people Oh, he's not focused. Just think if he focused? Well, that is part. That's what he did to focus as he talked and communicated. Some people are like that, that that the talking the whole time you go up and talk to the catcher, talk to the umpire talking and that's you being ready, whereas some people that would be Yeah, I don't care because I'm just talking. And because that isn't you. So you take the same thing of having fun, it can show up different for different people. It's a good idea. concept because it's liberating when people are really having fun, they're more free, which is gives you more access to your talent. That's the objective. And then Okay, let me figure out how to do it. Let me practice doing it. And then I find my way to do it. Then it might be totally different, or exactly the same as someone else.
Yeah, I know a lot of different ballplayers. They have to find their own way, because one way that someone else can teach them may work but not fully and in at the end, everyone has a different body. Everyone has a different way of doing things. It's important to really make things their own.
Dr. Tom Hanson 44:39
Yeah, right on.
So in the game of baseball, a lot of times, things don't go our way. So we have to learn how to turn that failure into a learning opportunity and compete one pitch at a time as you say, could you give youth baseball players like us some tips on how to stay in student mode? During those times rather than getting away and maybe becoming reacting like red light.
Dr. Tom Hanson 45:08
So when you make students student mode, what do you mean?
Being able to like learn from those failures and be able to move on.
Dr. Tom Hanson 45:16
Right? So I would say the most helpful thing for that, because I'm assuming that be a parents listening as well as your 12 year old might not be still listening after this long. But I would say have a clearly defined process for how you're going to debrief or talk about a game to maximize learning. I have a worksheet for you know, an example of called the experience, for example, called the experience Maximizer series of questions you go through to get the most out of an experience. Now for 12. It's like, hey, what, what worked, what didn't work What would I do differently next time? And that's a question that parents can ask. Hey, Johnny, what, What would you say work today? What Really? What did you do? Well, what was helpful? What? bla bla bla bla bla, and oh, what would you say didn't work very well? Oh, okay, what? Why would you apply these and, you know, are you basically saying do more of the stuff that worked, do less than stuff that didn't. And then put it aside. Meaning if you really want to get into it, as a parent, I don't recommend just having an open loop so that your kid might come to breakfast and say, oh, and another thing Johnny, when it was first in third this you did. And then a kid just has to be on guard all the time because their parent might attack him with with with instruction or reprimand. So you could have a set time And we're gonna answer these three questions and then let it go. And for big thing for me with my son growing up, he is right now where I, which was my, where my goal is for him was just to be doing something that he loved. And of course, happy that it's baseball since it's such a big part of my life. He's a junior now, and he just loves to play last week he came home from a game. I said, I can't wait till Thursday, so we can play again, is loving playing. And I could have crushed that by overcoaching him when he was growing up, because I know baseball fairly well. And I can see things constantly that he could do better. And what for me I chose the relationship to be more important prioritize that relationship to me and the relationship to baseball over The specific content of doing something right or wrong, and doesn't mean that that goes out the window. It just means that let me think before I asked him how many times I've told him not to make the first or third out at third base. And he did it. Should I? How do I handle that? I think he knows. But I could hammer it with them, but and it would feel good. It would feel good in the moment as a parent to say for crying out loud CJ, how many times have I told you and it's really tricky because you get caught up in your emotions as an adult and you love your kid and you want the best from you see could be so much better. How much do you hammer stuff and how much do you just let it go? I can't tell you. It's because it's you and it's your kid. I just the main thing I would say is for parents To be mindful of that. And again, my coaching was to have these three questions. Hey, what worked? What didn't work? What would you do differently next time? And maybe they have a limited time and then just zip it up and, and to put the relationship with yourself with you and the relationship the baseball and keep the love of it rather than Oh, dad, we're gonna go hit some more balls, Johnny. Oh, Dad, I just want to play MLB The Show. You know, like that.
Yeah. One thing. You talked about the mission earlier. And one quote from the book is keep your mission greater than your feelings. I love baseball and my long term goal is obviously to have a long career and play in the MLB. So when I have a clear goal set, it helps me stay focused. How can the strategy of winning really help someone's They focused on each pitch and be ready for the next thing that comes at them.
Dr. Tom Hanson 50:05
It goes right back to what I talked about, say you're going up to bat and you don't feel confident mission we've been using in this conversation is that part of the bat and the ball? Oh, but this is a little voice, I want to get a hit. I'm 0-3 three. And now I'm really 0-10 10 last few games and I gotta get a hit. So that you got that competing voice and the feelings that come with that. And again, you have to rise above that and say, I hear you. Thank you for sharing. And my mission is to put the fat part of the bat on the ball. So keeping your mission greater than your feelings. It's like, well, I don't you know, I don't want to do my I don't feel like doing my homework. Well, I want to you know, play in a good college. I got to have good enough grades to do that. So Even though I don't feel like doing my homework, I put my mission bigger and I'm going to override my feelings and do what I know is right anyway because because you aren't your thoughts and your feelings you are consciousness. That's, that's inside. It's like you can say out loud and you know, say loudly but in your head, only in your head, say your name. And so, you aren't the word in that case, Evan. You're the person that heard that. And so that that's a huge distinction that then gives you a chance to rise above your feelings and stay on what you're committed. Your feelings are important. I'm not pooh poohing feelings. It's a big problem if you just suppress them. They're like gages on a dashboard of a car. They're giving you information, like well It's not saying I have to stop the gas. No, it's like, but boy, you don't have too much longer. And so it's like, I'm gonna keep my mission greater than my feelings. I'm going to get to my girlfriend's house. Okay, well, if you run out of gas, you know, you're not going to get there. But maybe you can get there. And so you get the gas later. It's, I can't say you can't, you know, I'm saying the feelings are information, but you don't have to let them rule your behavior.
That's powerful. That's really powerful. So, I, you talked about how you interviewed a bunch of greats and like Hank Aaron, and Carl Yastrzemski and Pete Rose, and others. So with Hank Aaron, he said that visualizing was a big part, and like you talked about earlier. So what does visualizing do to a players success rate. And can you give us some tips on how we should visualize?
Dr. Tom Hanson 53:07
I certainly can't guarantee that doing anything is going to improve your stats. It tends to, and I can't say, Oh, this has to be visualized. Every day for 20 minutes, your average will go up 40 points. You know, I can't say that. What I can say is the top performers in any field, pre play the tournament. I like to watch ESPN or MLB network, you watch it replays. Key for performance? Well replaying is helpful like we just discussed with your other question. However, pre play, where you play it in advance in your mind, and really in your whole self gives your body clear clarity on what you want. And it helps reduce interference because if you're excited about what you think is about to happen, then you have much more access to your talent. If you're fearful or unclear, then doubt and fear can come in, which causes a contraction because we're first and foremost designed for safety. So, if we're uncertain, we'll contract and freeze until we see okay, is it safe for me to go there, you know, into the woods or run out of the woods? from our ancestors standpoint, or maybe in New York or something, or downtown Tampa, but it's like, Okay, well, first and foremost designed for safety. So if we're not clear on something our our hundreds of thousands of years of wiring is to hesitate is to hold back, but when when we know we're safe, and we know this This is what I want to have happen. This is what's going to happen, because I've just seen it. Oh, I'll have the ham and cheese sandwich. And I know that's what I want. Boom, I say it, and then it comes magically. And if he's saying that to your body, I want this ball to go right there. Ah, and then it's easier to free it up and trust it and let it go. Because you have that clarity that you just got, because you've already seen it. Sort of like, I love this part in whatever frozen tube or whatever movie I saw recently. My daughter will say, second time, it's different because you've seen it already. Oh, like that.
Yeah. One of the best parts of playing on team I feel and I'm sure a lot of other ballplayers feel is the teamwork that you use to win together. In the book you say, the more you focus on being a great team player, the greater you'll be as an individual. How does being a heads up baseball player help make us better teammates.
Dr. Tom Hanson 56:08
Because goal of the game is to win. And so if you are playing at or near your best as in, you have access to your talent that's going to help the team win the most, making you the most valuable you can be to that team doesn't guarantee success. But I want to be my individual best. So doing all the things that we've talked about help you do that. So that's been a great teammate, because the goal of the game is to win now the purpose of the game you can say well, oh, good to have fun. Okay, well, that's different, because that's the purpose. That's why you'd play but given that you're playing the goal, the game is designed around winning scoring, more runs and the other team. So the thing about why I would say Which I haven't said yet is that the key to the number one tip I would give is be a great teammate, is because it gets the focus off of yourself and gets it out where it needs to be, say out on the ball out on the mit balls going there. As opposed to what's my average, if, if I get a hit this time, you're not locked in on the task. And so if it's about you, then you're not being a good teammate. You're not helping your team win the most you can. Apple the other night, a player being nameless, saw the mad because he had to throw to a catcher that couldn't catch his curveball. And the catcher was sort of, you know, didn't want to go to the bullpen and work on it. And there they are out in the game. And then so this pitcher's, was unhappy with this catcher. So he's mad and then he has to throw a fastball and the guy hits, when he wanted to throw a curve. The guy hits a bleeder over second base, both the second baseman and the shortstop go back out for the ball. And it drops in and the runner runs on first. What do you think he did when he went to second base? Because it wasn't covered who in my opinion should have been covering second base?
but why wasn't he
cuz he was too focused on the last result
Dr. Tom Hanson 58:31
he was mad. Right? And then he was focusing on himself of saying god darnet give up a hit and when he should have been if you're in the moment, you're like, watching the ball and you're watching your second baseman shortstop both go for the ball. What do you do it run cover second base. And so that's where it becomes more about you. You just hurt his team but Now there's one second. And then if you don't get yourself under control, you don't hold him on, and he steals third. Now you're mad at really mad at everyone else when there's reason to be pointing at yourself.
Dr. Tom Hanson 59:17
that it actually is Evan Imma agree with you on that one.
So you teach the principles of heads up baseball to leaders in business as well. So what advice would you give youth baseball players on using these lessons in all parts of their lives, like for school and family and friends,
Dr. Tom Hanson 59:37
there really isn't anything different of what I've said that wouldn't apply? instantly. So I would say go back and listen to it all again. And just think of it as not baseball. In terms of taking responsibility, being aware, knowing yourself, you hear my story about, you know, what do I like? I like sports. And I like psychology. It's like, Oh, it's like a recent Peanut Butter Cup. Chocolate, I like peanut butter. Oh, put them together. It's great. And so, but I wouldn't say, Hey, everyone listening should go into sports psychology. Because that's not them to tune into yourself. What do I love? Well, the baseball Okay, go for it. So it's people like myself making a living in baseball. Or you know, I like art. I like this. I like this pay attention to what you become passionate about and what really catches you and then run with it. And hopefully your parents let you do them and encourage you to do that. I watched a documentary The other day. I'm now curious about this Billy Eilish, I I lish Irish Billy, the singer
Billy Eilish, I think
Dr. Tom Hanson 1:00:47
when she's homeschool, and they're and her brother, write these songs, but it was really just their parents. The way it came across to me create an environment. It's like Hey, what do you love? What would you love to do? They play exposing different things horses, art and music. It's like a stick, you know, like the music, okay, run with it, and they run with it and then Off you go doesn't guarantee that anyone is going to do that. But it's the same principle is what I'm talking about. be tuned into something that I love this and, and run with it and and go for it and then pick targets. And then work out a process of here's what I'm going to do to make that come true to be the same. You want to be a major league baseball player, okay? And they'll make up a process for what you need to do and what are milestones along the way. And it's the same for building a business or getting a prom date. Or, you know, go to your breath, your routine and breathe, picture going well, and then go. So it's all human performance. So it's already the same
Do you have any projects you're working on right now that you would like to share and also where's the best place that are born to baseball listeners can reach you and learn more about you.
Dr. Tom Hanson 1:02:10
I have going to playbigbaseball.com where this book "Play Big" is we're really if that's the age group with my top recommendation is the book "Play Big" and there I've got a video, which is actually at playbigbass ball.teachable.com so we'll have to give them that link. But playbigbaseball.teachable teach-abel.com that may change before too long where I'm doing some upgrades to some things but between those two sites, we'll find it because I teach. I haven't even talked about my ABCs in this in this interview but- Act Big, Breath Big, Commit Big The process that I really teach in it, there's a video of me teaching it to a bunch of 12 year old and so just super simple it's and teaches all these things and really in like six minute videos with a little workbook so fun ways is for kids to you know for for your age, what would be the top thing there's not a lot of guys your age that have read all of heads of baseball. So that's a tough one what I'm a project I'm working on Oh, and headupbaseball2.com heads up baseball one word, two, the number two.com to get that book and there's a program called compete there a video program where each chapter have had to baseball to I have about a 12 to 14 minute video that teaches it and again, it's the same deal you can download a worksheet and fill in As I go through with a practice for each week, so those are just super practical, here's how to apply it. Because it can all sound good. But what do I actually do since the parent or coach, those are two for that. And a project I'm really excited about working on right now comes off of an assessment that I have takes 30-45 minutes for guy to fill this assessment out online and a measuring, it's all about awareness about helping someone know himself better or herself. And so they take this and here's your behavioral style, so that the big talker or big listener or or dominate I'm gonna go and dominate or I'm going to be very meticulous. What should I do? Well, you should be yourself. What's that? Well, this will help you find that. What motivates you, knowing what motivates you makes it easier to do things that motivate you, and for parents or for coach to know. And then you're thinking stuff so there's, it's, there's which measure stuff you don't even think you could measure So it's super cool. And what I've used it for, for many years, probably eight, nine years, individually with athletes, they fill it out. Like if we were working together, I would have you take this and then we'd sit and go through it. And we'd identify you your path. Your path is your process parts of you your identity, your values, and behaviors, you know, style. And then here's what you don't do. Well, here's the blind spots for you to look out. So you read heads up baseball, you read play big, it's great, obviously, but which page applies the most to me right now? I don't know. But I can tell you that. After you take this I can, we can really target here's what you need to do the way you would with the swing. A guy puts a swing on videos like look, Evan, here's what you're doing with your hands. It's giving you trouble. Oh yeah, I see that. But this is that for the mental game. And then where I'm going with it now is that someone can take it. And normally, all these years you have to go through it with me. So you can still do that, and it's the best thing to do. However, now I have it where a whole team or groups of people can take it. And then go through videos, where I am instructing them and they create something called the self scouting report that where you really get to know yourself, and then you tweak that a little bit to be able to have a one on one meeting with your coach to go through, that's a little form called How to coach me and to build that relationship. And so that's just a process that you go through, to build what I think really becomes at the heart of it all, which is relationship First of all, for relationship with yourself, knowing yourself. And secondly, relation well secondly, relationship with your coach, when a coach knows you really well then you communicate and there's less interference less noise. You can stay on target more you're not worried about what the coaches and the coaches helping instead of getting in the way Also if you're doing at the team level, when a team all understands and knows themselves better the way my Luthor team did, we got to know each other. It's a guy. Yeah. That's that guy. And that's that guy. And he's different and, and this speeds up that process. So now I have it as a process, that whole team can go through a whole travel organization could go through and really speed up. What really becomes the key when I started with the Yankees, and I'll finish with this was actually before how I got the Yankees, I talked to these five minor league managers. And I talked to them individually first, then we had a group meeting. And I said, well, what's the number one key to the whole thing? And they said, the relationship. It's the relationship, the respect, not like, you're going out to the movies or dinner, you can, but it's really about the connection and the relationship and the respect when that's there. can take off when it's not there. I don't like that guy. I don't like that guy. Don't get that guy. What's wrong with that guy? Then the information can't flow back and forth. So you talk to a high end coach. And they'll say it's a relationship. Joe Maddon said, I'm in the relationship business I'm, when I get when he went to the Cubs, he said, first three weeks was all only for him. relationship building. It's that huge. So it's what my project is a relationship building system.
That those sound like great resources. Yeah, that's really awesome. So, thank you so much for being here and sharing great knowledge with the born baseball community, and help taking our game to the next level.
Dr. Tom Hanson 1:08:41
You're welcome. That's my goal. So I appreciate the opportunity to do that. And you did a great job, get some really big league questions.
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