Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Former Cardinals Pitcher Writes about the Mental Side of Baseball

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Former Cardinals Pitcher Writes about the Mental Side of Baseball

Article excerpt

When - 7 p.m. Thursday

Where - Left Bank Books, 399 North Euclid Avenue

How much - Free

More info - 314-367-6731

Former Cardinals pitcher Bob Tewksbury may have St. Louis' own Yogi Berra to thank for the title of "Ninety Percent Mental." Tewksbury quotes Berra as once observing in his unique way: "Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical."

The mental part forms the theme of this book, and Tewksbury has the credentials to write about it (with help from Scott Miller, a sportswriter). After all, Tewksbury serves as the mental skills coach for the San Francisco Giants and once held the same post with the Boston Red Sox.

Tewksbury notes that mental skills coaching began eight decades ago: "Coleman Griffith, commonly remembered today as America's first sports psychologist, was hired by owner Philip K. Wrigley to work with the Chicago Cubs. That didn't go well," mainly because Cubs manager Charlie Grimm ordered his players to shun Griffith.

But mental skills coaching caught on again in the 1980s, and most of today's major league teams use the system.

Tewksbury's book focuses heavily on the system's details -- which is the book's biggest problem. Readers have to plod through page after page of breathing exercises and arcane abstractions. Here's one of the seemingly endless paragraphs:

"The best goals are process goals, which, in layman's language means 'how to get there' goals, and they are important because they are controllable. Outcome goals are not controllable, and putting too much focus on them can be detrimental to a player's overall performance because oftentimes outcome goals are not realistically attainable. And when they are not achieved, a player loses some confidence and feels discouraged and frustrated. This results in continued poor performance, which only deepens the despair of the player until finally he stops caring or trying and then begins to perform well again. …

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