May 23, 2013
TUCSON, Ariz. — One of the most frustrating things that can happen to a baseball player is being in a prolonged slump as a hitter or completely lose command of pitches as a hurler which is commonly called the yips.
Both conditions cause embarrassment for the athlete because he can’t perform at the level he is accustomed to and endures many sleepless nights and anxiety as he prepares for his next outing.
The affliction is all consuming and a nightmare which doesn’t usually go away unless professional help is obtained.
Few coaches really know what to do to tackle this horrible condition that has derailed too many careers in baseball.
After studying the athlete’s hitting or pitching mechanics, giving them continual positive reinforcement and exhausting every common sense approach to bring these players back to the level they once were, the coach ultimately has to move on and bench these athletes.
Dr. Tom Hanson, co-author of Heads Up Baseball with Ken Ravizza, came out with a book called Play Big which explains a tapping technique which helps many athletes bounce back.
“Having the ‘Yips’ or being in a prolonged slump is a mind set,” said Hanson.
“Our mind is constantly creating programs that we call beliefs. It takes individual experiences and generalizes them into a belief so we can process information quicker. For example, we look at a house and understand that it is a house. So we don’t check to see if it is safe to walk into.
“Our mind is doing that all the time. What happens in a slump is that you have a bunch of experiences where you fail or don’t feel good. Then your mind bundles them into a belief that you can’t hit or not hitting well. Then the hitter acts on those beliefs. And then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
“So you must break that pattern. My way of doing it is to go over each at-bat that the person hasn’t liked while using the tapping technique that my book Play Big discusses in detail. And it actually changes the memory of what happened for the batter. It seems a little far fetched, but this is how the technique works.
“For example, I just worked with a player the other day. He was really struggling, and we went through each at-bat that he didn’t like. And using the tapping technique that I teach, we went through and changed him. Then he hung up the phone feeling like a million bucks.”
For those who aren’t aware of what the tapping technique is, Hanson explains.
“You literally tap with your fingers on different spots on your body which are acupuncture points and on meridians from the Chinese medical model. Tapping is only about 20 years old and is a combination of Western and Eastern philosophies. You also have a lot of Western psychology involved.
“It has evolved from Dr. Roger Callahan. He initially worked with a person who had a water phobia. Her stomach would tighten up when she saw any type of open water. Dr. Callahan remembered that just underneath the eye is a spot on the meridian for the stomach. So he had her tap on that area for several minutes. And amazingly, she didn’t feel so queasy with her stomach.
“She felt she could go in the water, and she walked right into the water after suffering for years from this phobia. This led to the tapping technique. While you are tapping, the traumatic events from your past that has created some emotion for you is being changed by the tapping. A signal is sent to your mid-brain saying, ‘It’s OK…it’s OK.’
“As a result, the brain shifts how it remembers those traumatic experiences. The big thing is that the past is over. And the only way that it exists is in the player’s mind and how the player’s mind is representing it. So if we can go into how his mind is representing his past failures, then he can free himself to hit or pitch with the freedom we want.”
To read more about how to solve the yips and prolonged slumps, you can purchase the May 17, 2013 issue of Collegiate Baseball by clicking here. Tom Hanson goes into detail about how his techniques can reach struggling baseball players.