Geoff Miller, former Pittsburgh Pirate Mental Skills coach and partner at Winning Mind, a California company that helps athletes perform under pressure, recently released his book Intangibles (2012). After reading the book over winter break, I was really excited about sharing it with the players at Millersville.
Millersville’s winter break ended on January twenty-eight, providing our students with over five full weeks of vacation. Because our season begins on February eight at Winston-Salem State, we were forced to bring our team back last Saturday—a full eight days before the first class of the spring semester. We took advantage of our players open schedules and each night, we did team building exercises to improve on our mental game, while build team unity. The last exercise that we completed was a book report on Miller’s book, Intangibles. The team was divided into five groups, each responsible for one section of the book, amounting to approximately twenty-five pages. By the end of the weeklong camp, many of our players went above and beyond their section of the book, completing the entire book on their own. The sections covered by the groups included Individual Performance Techniques, Individual Life Management Techniques, Team Management, MAP (Mental Aspects of Pitching) Sessions, and Baseball IQ and Leadership. All of the groups presented their findings with one visual aid, which, in most cases, was a Power Point presentation.
Through my own reading and our team’s findings, I am convinced that this book is one of the best compositions written on the mental aspects within the game of baseball. Miller’s approach is different than that of Ken Ravizza, Tom Hanson and Brian Cain, the current gurus of the mental game. The philosophy of Ravizza, Hanson and Cain revolves around teaching players to play the game one pitch at a time. While this is a vital skill—our 2011 team that went to Cary mastered it—I have always wondered why physically talented players that do their best to learn and incorporate the “one pitch” mentality continue to struggle. In reality, no matter how hard they try; some players have deeper issues that prevent them from being able to play the game one pitch at a time. Miller provides insight to coaches and players on how to create comfort, control and confidence by getting to the root of one’s problems.
Why do players get angry when they do not perform up to their own standards? How can the pressure and lack of focus created by spending massive amounts of time away from family be eased? How can one avoid “choking” by trying too hard? What leadership lessons can be learned from Kangaroo Court? Miller answers all of these questions using examples that players can relate to: Ping-Pong, card games, and movies are relevant parts of baseball culture at the college and professional levels. Miller does a great job using each of these examples to help players figure out why they feel pressure and how they can overcome it. If you coach or play baseball and want a different perspective on the mental game, you need to check out Geoff Miller’s Intangibles.