“Ninety Percent Mental: An All-Star Player Turned Mental Skills Coach Reveals the Hidden Game of Baseball” by Bob Tewksbury and Scott Miller, narrated by Bob Tewksbury
Baseball, memoir, coaching, professional, audiobook
March 20, 2018
4 of 5 stars (very good)
One of the more popular quotes about baseball attributed to Yogi Berra was “Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.” Today, many teams are paying attention to the first part of that statement as 22 of the 30 major league teams have a mental skills coach. Former All-Star pitcher Bob Tewksbury is one of those mental skills coaches, having held the position for the Boston Red Sox and San Francisco Giants. This memoir, co-written with Scott Miller and narrated by Tewksbury, tells about not only his journey from pitcher to mental skills coach, but also some of the secrets he shares to players who come to him for help.
While he obtained the necessary education for holding a position in which he aids other people develop the proper mental attitudes and self-awareness needed to succeed, Tewksbury also shares stories from his own major league career. He was an all-star pitcher in 1993 and his description of his performance and his mental state during that performance was one of the best baseball stories shared in the book. He pitched for several teams, including the Cardinals, Yankess, Padres and Twins. He shares anecdotes about his time with each team, but not in strict chronological order. Instead, the baseball stories are those that are pertinent to the subject discussed in the chapter.
These subjects all cover various aspects that cover the mental game that players, especially pitchers, will encounter in every game, every road trip, and every season. Tewksbury even breaks down what goes through a pitcher’s head – his own experiences and those of pitchers he has coached such as Jon Lester, Andrew Miller and Rich Hill. He delves into what may cause negative thoughts to creep into a player’s mind such as fear. He uses the acronym “False Evidence As Reality” to describe when that player is fearing failure. Overcoming negative self-talk, using anchor statements to motivate one’s self and concentrating on one pitch at a time are all skills he uses. While these sound simple and basic, these have been overlooked so long that the game is finally catching up to Yogi’s observation.
This book is one that general baseball fans will enjoy, especially with the easy-to-understand language and the down-to-earth narration Tewksbury employs. It isn’t too technical for casual fans, nor is it too simple for more dedicated baseball lovers. If the reader is interested in the mental aspect of the game this book is for them.
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