Play Big with Dr. Tom Hanson, Mental Performance Coach & Bestselling Author

Dr. Tom Hanson frees athletes and coaches, executives and work teams to consistently perform at or near their best. Formerly the Director of Performance Enhancement for the New York Yankees, Dr. Hanson also consulted with the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angels, and Minnesota Twins organizations. His business client list ranges from giants like Microsoft, Verizon and Pepperidge Farm to small businesses like Public Trust Advisors and insurance adjusters Johns Eastern.

He co-authored both Heads-Up Baseball: Playing the Game One Pitch at a Time and Heads-Up Baseball 2.0: 5 Skills for Competing One Pitch at a Time with Dr. Ken Ravizza. The books have combined to sell over 200,000 copies, been adopted by many major college and professional teams, used as a college textbook, and been called “the bible for developing mental toughness,” by Collegiate Baseball.

Dr. Hanson also wrote the award-winning PLAY BIG: Mental Toughness Skills that Take Baseball Players to the Next Level, and the best-selling business fable, Who Will Do What by When? — How to Improve Performance, Accountability and Trust with Integrity. Dr. Hanson graduated with his Ph.D. specializing in sport psychology from the University of Virginia.

In this episode, Dr. Tom and Cindra talk about:

  • Confidence as Easy as ABC
  • How to Play Big in 5 Simple Steps
  • How Tapping helps overcome mental roadblocks





Love the show? Rate and review the show for Cindra to mention you on the next episode:

“The number one thing is the breath.” -Dr. Tom Hanson @Mentally_Strong
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“The idea that we have an internal traffic light, like green, yellow, red… and the green means you’re feeling good… deliberately get yourself green. Do what you need to do to figure out what makes you feel good, and structure something ideally right away in the morning.” -Dr. Tom Hanson @Mentally_Strong
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Cindra Kamphoff: Welcome to the High Performance Mindset Podcast. I’m so excited. Dr. Tom Hansen is here in the house with us virtually.

Dr. Tom Hanson: Alright!  

Cindra Kamphoff: Thank you so much, Tom, for having for being here and for coming on the podcast.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: You’re very welcome, Cindra, excited about the conversation. I think it’s gonna be great.  

Cindra Kamphoff: I agree, and I think some of your books, all of your books are classics, and I can’t wait to listen.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: Wow. That’s a great start… 

Cindra Kamphoff: I have one and two here actually, Heads up Baseball, and check out all the tabs, and another one, Heads up Baseball 2. And then I had some time to spend reading your other 2 books, so, I’m just really excited that you’re here, and that you’re willing to share with us some wisdom to help the audience. And everyone who’s listening today.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: Yeah.  

Cindra Kamphoff: So maybe… just get us started and tell us a little bit about what you’re passionate about and what you’re doing right now.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: Yeah, I’m really passionate about human performance and helping people close that gap between where they are and where they want to be. It really starts out, hey, what’s your dream? What would you like to have happen? And that comes really, though… and then it’s like, well, where are you now? What are your current limitations? And well, let’s close that gap… particularly focusing on inner game stuff like how they’re thinking how they’re processing information… kind of nervous system related stuff. Not so much mechanics… I was a hitting coach at the University of Virginia when I was getting my Ph.D. there. I was a head college coach for 7 years in the 90s, so on the field… you know, coaching absolutely, you know, mechanics, but that’s not really a focus here. And what I end up… what I do now is very much like yourself in terms of, I work with a lot of athletes from professional levels to youth, and I also work with a lot of executives and leadership teams. One of the other books that you mentioned or didn’t have, and physical one was Who Will Do What By When? I’ve been doing a lot with that lately… my wife is a master, certified coach, she’s doing a lot of work… in high levels of the government helping people with that. So, we’ll can get into that. So, anyone that’s like got a gap that they’re like, ‘Okay, I’m here, but I’d love to be here, and I wanna enjoy the ride from here to here’. That’s what I’m most interested in helping with… and of the… my big distinction over the years is that I teach what I wanna learn… like this book is about commitment, it’s not like, you know, I’m great at commitment… and I really owe it to the world to teach them… it’s more like, boy, I’d like to be better at that, let me dive in… and I’m a chronic teacher. So… Plato gets put in, and it comes out comes out as a book or a course.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, absolutely… and a constant developer of knowledge. That’s what I see. I agree that I love to learn, and I like learning more about myself, and that’s why I’m in this profession… and one thing that I also noticed is this trend of more businesspeople and executives coming to our work and being interested in our coaching, and I’m sure that you’ve seen that over the years of just working in the field. 

Dr. Tom Hanson: Absolutely. Absolutely. It’s very much… and then now, what I’m doing is the Reese’s commercial, like chocolate and peanut butter, because I’m about to launch a coaching program for executives who used to play sports or do… you know, I’ve got a pilot going with it. Now there’s a guy who’s like a golfer, avid golfer, and now he’s running businesses, and it’s fun to go through that with them… so that’s what I wanna do in this conversation bounce back and forth… that’s program is called “That Winning Feeling”. So as much as anything… my target is that exactly. That people have that winning feeling, cause you’re never done… you could win the Super Bowl…. we want the Vikings to win the Super Bowl… I haven’t connected with Young, but I’m… I right here, man, right there.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Oh, yeah, you’ve got your skol mug. Excellent.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: Oh, yeah, let’s go. I’m from Morehead, Minnesota. I grew up going to school in a Vikings jacket, and I love and bleed the purple so… and it’s been some blood… that’s been spilled, so… I was there with Fran Tarkenton and the… you know, the purple people eaters losing the Super Bowl, crying my head off so… 

Cindra Kamphoff: Well, not you grew up not too far from where I live. So that’s exciting. So, one of the first books that I read that you wrote with Ken Ravizza is called Heads up Baseball, and I do think it is a classic. As I teach graduate students… I have them all read this book because I think there’s so much great content in the book, and I also know that it’s not just related to baseball… that it’s related to life and business and our career. So, let’s just get started and just tell us a little bit about how did you, partner with Ken Ravizza to write Heads Up Baseball? And where did that motivation come to… that’s you’re that was your first book.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: Yeah… so if people don’t know Ken, I pulled out his card, that’s his… that’s Ken Ravizza. He’s really a giant in our field, and just a giant human being. And so, and from that I would say to people listening like, wow, that’s what…. Wouldn’t’t that be cool if people said that about me, like I was a giant. The guy was really giver… he was a a on a cutting, leading edge, and I would… it started to me, I told the story a while back, as I just started in fact, with a thank-you note. So again, in terms, I’m trying to bias everything toward, hey, what’s something useful that people could get… a thank you, the power of a thank you note… Ken came when I was at the University of Illinois, getting my master’s degree, because I’m from Moorhead. I went to Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and then at Illinois, while I was there, played a bunch of Rugby and I was a hitting coach, we won three Big 10 championships… one day Ken comes… cause he’s a friend of Dan Gould, my advisor, and we… I asked him a couple of questions, and he’s really helpful, and my thanks to my mom, she had encouraged me to write a lot of thank you notes. And so, I wrote him a thank you note, and a year, or whatever… years later we’re at this AASP conference, sports psychology conference, and I see him, and he’s like a Biblical character in that… gaggles of people around him, and I saw him like, ‘Hey, Ken, you know I met you’, like hey, great and he said it’s like, “Tom… you’re Tom Hanson, right?” He goes, “Yeah? Come here. I just wanna tell you people pump me for information all the time, and I’m happy to give, you know. Don’t get me wrong, but nobody. Nobody writes me thank you note, and I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciated that and what that meant to me”. So, then I go to University of Virginia, Bob Rotella is my advisor there, and I’ve been in charge of the summer weeklong sports psych program. So, who do I want? I’ve got a budget, I’m bringing Ken. And I bring Ken in… and we take long walks smoking cigars at night outside of Rotella’s house and then I was at Skidmore College, in upstate New York as a professor, and I needed to… I had a sabbatical, and so, I partnered with Ken and that’s how we wrote Heads Up Baseball. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Wow! Well, isn’t that wonderful? What a great story and the power of just giving and thanking people instead of asking for something you can get from them, you know, and it goes a long way.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: Yep, yeah. That was big. And so yeah, I got to learn from him and all the stuff that’s there… we can dive into or go whichever direction that you want. 

Cindra Kamphoff: What is your favorite concept from the book that you think could relate to anyone who’s listening? 

Dr. Tom Hanson: It’s a cool question. I would say, what comes to my mind… what I’ve been hitting lately isn’t a term that’s in it, and we didn’t put it in the second… I wanted it in the second book. But to meanify… to meanify is to bring meaning to something that you’re doing. Like I’m gonna step on the rubber make that that’s the start of the next pitch. As a pitcher, okay, I’m not gonna step on until I’m ready… there’s a picture there of it says, ready on the rubber, and so that’s I’m gonna make that meaningful. Yesterday, I was talking with the guy that is in a pilot of my… That Winning Feeling program has trouble sleeping. It’s he’s meanify… if I am crossing the threshold, he comes down the stairs… to right is his bedroom, to the left is whatever, but when I go there and cross that from then on… it’s everything is off. That’s now I’m out of my worker mode for sure, and I’m crossing that threshold now it’s bedtime… I got a great text from him this morning, and he said ,”I slept great”. So, we… cause it’s been a big issue for him, and so bringing meaning to something you already do have me give meaning to everything or ourselves.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Right.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: However, how it’s like, hey, what can I do about that’s about the start? One of the things Ken would say, down the down end before we lost him in 2018, would be a when does the ‘at bat’ begin? When does your ‘at bat’ begin… When does you whatever you do begin? I’ve got a thing on my office door here, one of these sliding things… Dr. Tom Hanson, it says, and then it can slide it in or out. And so, my practice is to is to stop there… center. Be like, okay, Dr. Tom Hanson is in, and off I go. So that’s one that comes to mind that I’ve been doing a lot lately, but… and then the breath when… you have to get the breath. I remember writing the book we talked… I talked to like 15 Big League players kind of who had worked for like 15 years with Big Leaguers. And I say… let’s go talk to these guys and see what they think is most important… and so we’re going around. It’s like Kirk McCaskill, Jim Abbott… remember Jim Abbott, a pitcher?  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yes, yeah.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: And guys like that, and far and away. The number one thing is the breath… taking a breath between pitches… and I remember was a little deflated or disappointed because you talk about so many things… and then it’s like the breath, there you go. Really taking a breath, and whether you’re an executive – hey, I’m going into a meeting, hey I’m about to make a phone call… a good breath, and he really didn’t get into much nuance to the breath, it really was just could you just take one or not? But, as I think you know, there’s lots you can do with the breath that can help bring up your energy. What you can do to bring it down… all kinds of things like that, but really just that was such a big one, and people giving it back. And the other one would be the traffic light that I use every day pretty much to this day. This idea that we have an internal traffic like green, yellow, red… and green means you’re feeling good – let’s go, I’m on. And yellow… you’re sped up a little bit losing it, and red. So just yesterday I was talking with a corporate group about that, and the boils down to – deliberately get yourself green. Do what you need to do. Figure out what has you feel good and structure something ideally right away in the morning, that helps you get going good, feeling good, and then notice when you get yellow. We’ll talk about, hey… how does it show up in your body? What do you hear yourself say? What are things that, hey – when you get a yellow light? I’m losing it… and then how do you get back to green right in the moment? And if you’re executive, if you’re whatever it is, I haven’t found anyone where that doesn’t play well. I remember… do you remember, Phil Roof?  

Cindra Kamphoff: I do, yeah.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: You do? …a catcher for the Twins when I was growing up. Then I did some work with the Twins… was the same thing, because I was working with the Rangers at the time, and they were playing the Twins, and they said, hey, you’re talking… we’re doing study… every, you know, “it’s our day where we’re doing a reading from the chapter, from a chapter of Heads Up Baseball, you wanna come?” Like I’m there in my Rangers uniform… and Phil Roof comes up to me and says, “Hey, Hanson, thank you for that traffic light, I mean, because now I can talk to people. You can say, what gets you green, hey? Did you get a yellow light? How did you know? When did it start? Did you do anything about it? How did you choose to respond?” One of the greatest questions of all time – how did you choose to respond to that? And I was like, “You’re welcome, Phil.” You know I’d grown up… cheering for him, rooting for him so that was kind of like, super cool.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, super cool. Well, such great concepts that you just mentioned there, I like the meaningful, because it makes me think about how many times we kind of blend things together, and we don’t have routines, or we don’t re reset, and I think the power of the Heads Up Baseball books are really about staying in the present moment. How can you take it one pitch at a time, or one phone call at a time, or you know, one rep at a time? And so many times we’re thinking about the past or the future, and I think their traffic light helps us check in with ourselves, because we just sometimes are on automatic pilot or rushing from thing to thing without taking some meaningful steps. And I think about how lot of athletes I work with struggle, and even executives struggle with how to turn off the performance, sort of… you know…. after the game, what do you do to debrief? Or when you’re done with a busy day, you know, you just came home and then you kind of checked out at home because you’re just so exhausted and you don’t maybe have the routine to put your phone away and be present.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: Yeah, yeah, having it be, okay, you just pulled up… you know, to the house and now I’m gonna go in, and I got 2 kids… who do I wanna be there? And pre-play that. And set an identity, and really big identity… it’s like, who clarifying who you wanna be, and then having those transitions. One of my… I’ve got 5 biggies, like my coaching fundamentals and biggie number 4 is “win this segment”.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Okay.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: So, the segment I’m in… because everyone says hey, be present. You know, you gotta be present. Okay, I’m present, I’m present, and now I’m not, and now I’m a loser. So that’s just too high of a bar to think that you’re gonna be that all the time. And that’s often the way it gets… hey, be in the moment, be in the now. Appreciate your moment, damn it! Appreciate what’s going on right now – can you be grateful? Like I’m… and then you can for a bit, and I find it super helpful to think in terms of a day as a segment. Or you know, in baseball, you see that these funnels, like one funnel on into the next, and so, having it be a declaration like walking into my office like this morning. It’s like, okay, I’m coming in to do this, I walked right in. It’s like, hey, wait a second… I went back… you know, did the in/out thing, even though I had left it in, make it out, and then go just to have something. It’s like, okay, now, here’s this segment, because I’m gonna move my son for the rest of the day and drive him to college tomorrow… but right now I’m all in on this. This is the segment talking to Cindra… and so having something that if I can do that, I can be locked in and have a blast, set an intention for this segment, and then so be… as green as I can, go in and notice… and I get yellow and get back to green as much as I can, and ideally a little debrief at the end of a segment ends it, take… take a learning. Nobody’s going to be super structured like that all the day, but the basic principle of that is like, hey, what did I learn? What could I learn/take from that, and then go on? And I’m not… I’m not so rigid that every moment of the day is this is a conscious segment, but the ones where I really wanna play and be good, that’s what I do. 

Cindra Kamphoff: I think the breath is such a powerful tool that we have to stay in the present and to reset so we stay in our green. What are the ways that… or tell us a bit about how you’re teaching that now… just for those people who are listening and thinking, okay, well, what does Tom really mean about the breath? 

Dr. Tom Hanson: Yeah, the biggest one out of it is. Well, the biggest one is being conscious of your breathing. The breath is like a metaphor for all of us, to me, for the mental game. In that it goes on auto pilot. I’m not… wasn’t thinking now until you spoiled it, now I’m thinking about my breath.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah that’s true.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: I wasn’t until you called attention to it… but it’s because it runs on auto, but I also can take control. So, that’s like, consciously, it’s like, hey, we run 95% is on a pro auto program. We can wrestle some control and make deliberate choices… with the to me, that’s choices are then to train… the 90% so that it becomes a new set point that… that’s your normal, if that makes sense. So, with the breath, biggest thing once of being aware of it is… go bring it through your nose. Like I’d say, hey, let’s get on LSD, like long, slow, deep breath. Alter your state and it… and through your nose and then down into your belly. And so the first… so, cause… there’s big advantages, and you’ve probably seen books about breathing just the massive advantages of breathing through your nose. I literally sleep with my mouth taped shut because I’m a nighttime mouth breather. I have the blue tape that used for paint, when you paint.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Oh sure yeah.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: …it works really well, I’ve tried a lot of things. It’s my favorite and to just breathe through the your nose. It’s much more calming… much more awareness.. I try. I go as long as I can during a workout breathing through my nose, often on a stair master, I’ll just keep myself right at my nose limit. And so, like that, and also then, when performing as an athlete or in the business scene, is a longer slow breath… it’s really what’s kind of became famous out of to well, to me, out of Heads Up Baseball is… I mean, you watch the College World Series men or women, and you see people put that back foot in the box… look, you know, hold the bat! Take a breath. They’re saying something to their self and stepping in. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Yes.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: But that’s whatever page right out of Heads Up Baseball… like every year that guy because he was, the lot of the photos were Skidmore… my players like every year at the College World Series… we just ping each other. My kids can’t believe… that’s a picture of their Dad doing that.  

Cindra Kamphoff: That’s awesome.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: So, having a one big one is, for sure, it’s great. What I also, though, talk about is the long, slow, deep breath the whole time. From on the bench to grabbing your bat, to when my bat begins… if that’s when it is… and then slow, conscious breath from there and then I’m not attached to someone taking a big breath. I’ve often said, hey, I wanna be able to see it from the second deck… I’m not as attached to that. I’m not trying not to be attached to anything, because the wild card is what works for you. What works for you now? I’ve kind of made a living talking to really good people and seeing what they do, and then pulling it together and then making it available to others. That’s kind of been my shtick… and I talk about this, I mean in my dissertation I interviewed Hank Aaron, Rod Carew, Stan Musial, Carl Yastrzemski, Pete Rose, Tony Oliva… who got into the Hall of Fame…he got into the hall of… Rose wasn’t part of the dissertation, but once Tony got into the Hall of Fame, I had all guys… all Hall of Famers in my dissertation, picking their brain for – hey? What did you do? How do you do that? Ph.D., level questions like, hey, you know, you lead the world in total bases all time… total base leader, Mr. Aaron, it’s like, how’d you do that? And so, talking through stuff like that.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah. And what did he say? How did he do it?  

Dr. Tom Hanson: He said, “First, it’s all about preparation. How a how a guy prepares to do battle”, was his phrase.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: So Ph.D…. voices! How did you do that? Right?  

Cindra Kamphoff: Right.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: So, that’s like the level of intellect that was at, but that’s simple wins, right? So, he said, “well, I’d visualize, I would imagine… the pitcher, and what he throws, and what he’s got.” And I go, okay? Jerry Koosman is pitching for the Mets tomorrow… talk me through that, he said, “Well, I think about the night before… okay, Koosman’s pitching tomorrow. What does he got? What does he throw? I see those pitches coming in.” I said, “like from as you’ll see them, or do you see yourself on TV?” And he’s like, “Hmm, no, as I see them”. So, he’s inside, and… “I see those coming in, and then I put myself in different situations… man on first, first inning, two outs – how does he pitch me? And I see that… and then, fourth inning nobody, on nobody out – how does he like that?” And talked through and he said, that’s then what enabled him to be so focused and so consistent… it’s like – how do you do that? He’s 12 miles of base running ahead of Stan Musial, who’s the second all-time in total bases. So it’s like… Stan… the number 2 guy of all time would have to just run the basis for a half marathon to catch Aaron. It was so consistent like… how did you do that? He goes, it’s just what I’m telling you. And it’s it was a still… it gets me right now.. cause, he said… we’re driving in the car… I’d flown down there. And he said, “hey, you just wanna talk right?” Yeah, and said, “Can we go… I got some things to do around town.” And… okay, I said, “Oh, we’re gonna run some errands?” And he’s like, yeah. And so, I didn’t explain that I just made a joke.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: But you know, anyway… so, we’re driving around… and he said, “this is the most important part about hitting, and no one’s ever asked me this before.” 

Cindra Kamphoff: Wow. 

Dr. Tom Hanson: No one had ever asked him… and I don’t think anyone got into it then… it’s on my list still to get a book out and of this… you know, how great hitters think. But it was that mental preparation, so, it’s the same for an executive. I use that story all the time of like, okay, the night before you… okay, what do I got tomorrow? What do I want to do? How do I want it to go? And picture it, and pre-play it, I call it, and you go through that… and who do I? How do I wanna be? What have I got? And certainly, in the morning you get up… getting green… part of it, you get feeling good, “feel good” first, is the first biggie, and then second is “beyond target”… what are my targets that I wanna go through? And that ends up with the kebab… kebab model? That I that I teach, basically, which is, you’re gonna have targets… that’s a person… has all these targets of goals… the kebab, there’s chunks of meat, and there’s vegetables, and those are the tangible goals… and then there’s the pathway. So, we say a lot… hear a lot in our world about – oh, it’s all the process, it’s a process, it’s a process. And it’s like, well my process is to put the tooth paster on the brush and then I put it in here. It’s like, well, how’s that gonna help me get to the Major Leagues? It’s like, well, it’s good to have good teeth… but the goal… What’s the dream? What is the goal? What are the targets? And then it’s this this way… what is your way? What is that yellow part there of driving through that? This kind of stick of the shish kebab. And it’s to me it’s one thing it’s… it’s an artificial dichotomy to break it into outcome and process, because I want them doing… I want them thinking, “I want to get a hit. Alright, I’m gonna get a hit.” Okay… and then you back onto that, because when I was… what I ran into at Skidmore, fresh out of my Ph.D. was, I was so processed… so “oh yeah, you know, take your breath to do your routine” just as I’m writing Heads Up Baseball. I’m writing Heads Up Baseball doing this… but so, I and I still have this in my image in my head of me standing in the outfield. My team is around me, and I’m saying, “you guys did a great job… you took those breaths… the importance to the breath, it’s beautiful.” All of these guys say… it’s super important. You did you routine you looked at it, and we lost 12 to 3… and so, it was playing sort of beautifully, like a beautiful… you know, oh, let’s be in the process… it’s all about the process. Well, it’s not okay. It’s not okay.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Sure, sure. 

Dr. Tom Hanson: You have to… yes, do it, but with an intent to win the game… win the game always be focused on… focus only on winning, and you end up saying, focus only on winning, stay on track. When we drift off, we get on to things that ‘oh, I’m upset about this or that shouldn’t be this way my ball shouldn’t be in the bunker… it shouldn’t be…’. Like, what do you want to have happen and be on track? So, I think of it all as the kebab, and the process. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Okay.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: …and the outcome so because Aaron, back on that, was that he was like – what does he throw? And yes, you could say, well that’s the process… but he wanted to get a hit…but he also said the last piece that’s big from him… I said, “what were you doing in the batter’s box?” And he said, “well, I want to put the fat part of the bat in the ball”. And so, to me… and to my corporate keynote message, is that the fat part is the best part of the bat, and the ball is the most important thing at that time. So, it’s bringing your best to the most important thing… what’s most important? How do you bring your best to that? And then Stan Musial was like my dad’s hero… I asked him, “what were you doing in the box? What were you doing?” And interestingly he said, “I always knew where the fat part of the bat was, and I wanna put it on the ball. That’s… and then Ph.D. boy like – and? And that became clear as I was transcribing it that… that was what he was doing. So, this idea of simplicity, and… like you see in Heads Up Baseball with Joe Madden, “do the simple better”, was the mantra as the Cubs broke the curse and won the World Series. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, sure.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: “Do simple better”, and that ties in with this book, which is really about commitments and commitment management, I will do X by Y, I just… you know, spent a week at a company just training people in that, and it… kind of in a way, it’s almost embarrassing, because it’s like I will commit, I will do X by Y, and by when will you do this? And then, if you aren’t gonna fulfill that you should let them know, and if you list the deadline, you should clean it up… and then there’s acknowledgement, and there’s a way to complain if someone didn’t do any of that… to do it skillfully… so super simple, but not often done well, and so, it’s really executing that. So, what I find, in some, with these high performers is yes, the preparation, and then what is the essence? What is the critical variable? How do I keep this simple? Because simple wins, whether it’s hitting or business or life… once things get complicated, then you’re veering off the kebab.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Absolutely. Yeah, Tom, so many…  

Dr. Tom Hanson: I don’t know what the question was but that was my answer. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Well, I appreciate so many different things there like, “do simple better”. The visualization just kinda thinking about where you’re going, and it makes me think about your book Play Big, and I wanna talk to you about… ask a few questions about that, and then we can talk about your last book as we keep going here and tell us a little bit about what Playing Big means to you… and I loved your 5 simple steps of playing big, and I’m just gonna share them with the audience now, and I’d like you to talk about those. So you said, 5 simple steps to “play big” are – clarify what you don’t want, clarify what you want, fully experience having it, notice and remove resistance, and then focus and trust, is your fifth one to perform. Tell us what about what that idea “play big” means, and then you know these 5 steps that people can use to play bigger… and I’m thinking it doesn’t relate just to sport, but in life in general.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: Absolutely, absolutely… and that’s really the company we have Heads Up Performance, and this is what this book looks like… and I wanted the book to feel good, like to have a good vibe… worked with the guy, Todd Pearl, is just fantastic at that. So just to me, it feels good, looks good, and that’s what it’s about. Is that good feeling where that’s what is “playing big” is getting to green in fact… deliberately getting to green, and then I teach the… at beginning of the book it’s a fictional story… it’s really me coaching me, on the field that I played in in high school… with all… every name in there is one of my teammates, either from high school or college… and it’s this guy coaching… this young player through a fence, and he doesn’t see the guy, it’s like Wilson, you know, “Two Time” from Tim Allen, do you know that show?  

Cindra Kamphoff: Sure, yeah, I love that show.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: …or Wilson, where you never see the neighbor?  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, yeah.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: It was like that originally… gonna have it be Babe Ruth, like is in the dugout, but no one else can see him but this guy… but then a couple of people sit down and said yeah, I think that’s a little over the top. Like so it’s really about learning… to me… the “whole” with the mental game is learning to express yourself fully, you know, that your sport or your business is… as a means of a… vehicle for self-expression. So, it’s a really ends up being a “playing big” and I like this thing [shows expandable breathing ball] you would have seen where it’s like… you’re gonna play like this, or you play with this.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: You think… tell me about a time when you when you played like this. Oh, this game against, you know, Tampa Catholic when I’ve… I did this. Okay, now tell me about a time when you were like this.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Small, yeah. 

Dr. Tom Hanson: Yeah, it’s just big and small, if you’re… and so people to relate to that of like an expansion and a freedom is what it is about. And so, the book teaches these tools, and the first, the main one, which I do teach all the time is, my ABCs. A is “act big”, B is “breathe big”, and C is “commit big”, you know. I will put the fat part of the bat on ball… I will do X by Y. You commit… so, you act… carry yourself that way. I came to that, I was gonna talk to this guy… was from Chicago, and was like, oh, you’re talking to this older group… and then was like, “could you talk to my 9-year-olds tomorrow?” It’s like, sure… and I like, well, what am I gonna say? Like the top thing, which is act like you’re confident… and that would still be the thing if you said “okay, Tom, you got 3 seconds for the podcast”…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Right, what would you say?  

Dr. Tom Hanson: I would say, “Act like you’re super confident”… and I’d still have 2 seconds left, maybe, but that would be the thing. And then breathe, as we’ve talked about… and then commit yourself to a focus… what am I locked in? I call it a Goldilock. You wanna have a Goldilock which is not too much to think about, not too little, like, hey, just go have fun… okay… but you know, just right like that bat on the ball. The fat part of bat on ball and so the guys learning that as we go, and then it actually… the reason I wrote this book is to have people start to tap without having to be in a crisis first. I work a lot with the Yips where people… it’s like a catcher can’t throw the ball back to the pitcher or second baseman can’t throw it to first. And so… you have to be able to talk to Miggy. Miggy is to me the amygdala. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Oh, okay.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: But… if we’re on a team, if you and I were on a team, and then there’s our new guy named John Amygdala… 

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: We’d call him Miggy.  

Cindra Kamphoff: That’s just awesome.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: So, Miggy… it’s Miggy [amygdala] and Tex [pre-frontal cortex]. So that’s it’s a little more complicated… I don’t say it too much to my brain, my neuroscience, friends, but I break it down into Miggy and Tex.  

Cindra Kamphoff: And people aren’t sure what that means, it is like 2 different parts of the brain.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: Exactly. And so, the tapping is literally top… we literally tap. I’ve done this for 20 years, but still it’s not that well known. Are you familiar with it? 

Cindra Kamphoff: I’m familiar with tapping… I’m not trained in it or heard about it… is that what it means?  

Dr. Tom Hanson: Yeah, well it’s literally tapping on acupressure points… And if you said, okay, what’s your most powerful tool? You got into this field… in 1983, I reached for this book called Sports Psyching, it’s right… behind me somewhere. I was in a bookstore and it’s like sports psyching, and I just said I’d major in psych because I didn’t think you could do anything in sports, so… and in sports, and I’ve been in it ever since, like, what’s the most powerful tool?  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah?  

Dr. Tom Hanson: It’s tapping.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Oh cool.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: And so… and it’s got a cousin. I’m also certified in… called havening, where you’re making physical moves. It’s a… somatopsychic modality tool. So, using the body to change, you’re thinking… but again, a big, big, big, big, false dichotomy is that the mind in the body are 2 separate things, even mind/body stuff. It’s like, well, it’s one thing… I’ve never had a hit or go up to the plate without his head. So, then you’re doing things with the tapping – they can see it or not – I just use top of the head inside edge of the eyebrow, out of the eye, under the eye, bump, bump, pump under the collar bone and then under the arm. There are other points… and we can get into that as much as you want. But it’s talking to Miggy, and there is… I do have this because I end up talking about this… here’s a book called the Science Behind Tapping. It’s a hard coveredb ook… this woman in Australia is the rock star researcher, and it’s all kind of brain scans, and cortisol level goes down 45%, and a replicated study. So, this is a compilation of all the studies on it.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Wow.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: It’s not like you have to believe in it, but you have to do it. And so, it’s really… it’s sending signals to Miggy that it’s safe. Because of the way our brain works… this is how I explain it – that every information comes in through our senses and goes to Miggy, because Miggy is around 30 million years old in development, and Tex is more like 40 or 4 million. So as the brain layers, you know, as we develop more brain…. but it came in that order. The ones who developed more brains lived.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Right.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: So, the ones with the bias towards survival. It was really you could… one way to think of it is that survival of the “scardest”… if our uncle goes out there, “hey, there’s a new tribe, hi guys!” … he may or may not come back, but then whoever stayed back and said, “Well, like he’s an idiot”, kind of mates with maybe with his mate and pass on that safety bias. And so, information comes in and goes to Miggy and Miggy is saying, “Am I safe? Am I safe?” It’s super-fast, and he uses, or she uses past experiences – how is it gone when I’ve thrown the ball? Am I safe to throw this ball? How has it gone? If they’ve had some trauma… I think if the Yips as like a PTSD, and we all have it to some degree. There’s no just yips over here… it’s a performance hierarchy, and you just… we slide up and down it all day. It’s just that the yips, and the choking is way at the bottom. And so, the thing is, Miggy is associating this with fear – throwing equals danger or threat, is a better word… throwing equals threat.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Sure, yep. 

Dr. Tom Hanson: Therefore, go into survival mode… everything stays down below Tex and now the guy, the body goes into defense… and Tex saying, but I’m playing softball, you know, I’m talking to woman, you know, that I like or whatever the thing is that could then be… trigger this protection. But Tex… Miggy doesn’t speak English. Miggy is like a reptile, and so it only does that. And so that’s our unconscious… so, the tapping gets… it’s like tapping is how you speak, lizard. You know that’s what is communicating with Miggy. You call up the event, yesterday, when you call up the event… oh, this game against this, or this presentation I made, the time I am talking to my boss, whatever it is… food, I mean, it’s everything, because it’s the nervous system where comes up, and then Miggy says… then you call it up, and then you feel it like, like think of something that’s stressful now, something you could stress out or worry about if you wanted, and you focus on it, cause what you focus on you feel. So, you bring that up, and then you tap… and so, what it’s… you’ve got this called up this negative thing, and now you’re sending positive neurochemicals into that area. And it’s like… then it’s like pulling up a word document editing it, and then you put it back.  

Cindra Kamphoff: So, do you think the tapping over time like do people do it just when they recall an event, and then they start seeing the event differently after the tapping? Or what do you see is like the impact of the tapping over time? 

Dr. Tom Hanson: Yeah, so sticking with the word document, now I put that memory back, because now it’s like it’s okay… and I’ll be tapping away. And now then, I’ll be… I call it the TikTok, or thing… where you’d, instead of remembering what happened, let something play, you know. Put yourself back in that game and hit the play button and see what happens… and I want to keep going until, “oh, I make a good throw”, even though he never made a good throw… memory’s plastic. That’s one of the biggest things to know… is that memory is plastic – you can change it. And that’s a big part of my work is helping someone see their past differently, that it happened for them… 

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah…  

Dr. Tom Hanson: …that I’m going to rewrite my past through a different lens so I see, oh, how great that was that happened… I left Skidmore… I was really depressed. I was… I wanted to I quit. I was a tenured professor, and I quit, but I really turned out that I was quitting because I was getting depressed, and then I got really depressed in my mid-thirties, and I was like hurting. And at the time it was like the stupidest thing any human had ever done… that’s how it occurred to me through my lens. But in time now, it’s like my gosh – I worked full time with the Yankees. I have this family, these great kids… I have this whole thing. If I had been stuck in that position… I was really contained. So, it was great and it hurt… but now, so at the time it made me cry that I left that job.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Sure, yeah.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: And now it’s arms up like… that’s one of the greatest things – I was a tenured professor, and I just bailed because I wanted more and something else, and it was not easy. But that perception… change of perception of your own past is the target with what I’m talking about here, and then we do it for the future. Bu… because then, if it comes up to Miggy, am I safe to throw this ball? Am I safe to talk to her? Am I safe to make this presentation? Miggy’s like, how’s it going in the past? And if it’s okay, yeah, this happened, but everyone makes bad throws that kind of shift in perception of the past. Then Miggy’s like, Yeah, I’m safe to throw… and now I’m free to run my motor program, because Miggy’s not clicked me into survival mode, which overrides everything 

Cindra Kamphoff: Cool. And so if people wanna learn more about the science of tapping, you said that book was called The Science of Tapping, if people want to learn more about that?  

Dr. Tom Hanson: Mhm.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Tom, one question I have before we move on to your last book that I wanna spend a little time on… give us an example of how tapping is helped the Yips, and those people that you work with who have the Yips… because I think there it that can be a really scary thing for people who all of a sudden, you know, can’t do something so fundamental that, you know, they love.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: Yeah… and so, for someone listening, it’s like, well I don’t play baseball. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Right. 

Dr. Tom Hanson: Well, I… we have this old “Harvey, the RV”, and I was being so careful. This old C class… Shasta thing. So careful to not hit that thing, that I backed into another one. And so, after that, when I’m backing up almost anything… of course, I’m… it, triggers, because Miggy’s like, “Don’t let that happen again. I remember backing up equals threat”. So anything… you could have a car accident, you could be yelled at by a boss or by a parent… to do work with parents. Well, take a woman tennis player has been doing great… ends up with the Yips on her on her forehand, and you know, is super critical of herself. And so, this is to me ends up being the Big Leagues, I only do this if this is what comes up… but the Big League of the mental game is that… she’s hitting forehands, and we go back to bad incidents that she’s had, and we tap to clear them so that… she, you know, she goes back to the game, you know, back to the match at Kenwood… and go back there now – see what you saw here, what you heard, feel what you felt… you can feel that now, right? Yeah, where do you feel? Oh, my chest… what does it feel like? 0 to 10, how strong is it? 8… right now? Yeah. Okay, let’s go… and we tap or havening is a really cool one… same principle. And because we’re using our body, it’s just like… if people are tapping – have you ever been stressed, and then taken a run, or gone to the gym, and then you felt better?  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, right.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: Well, you just moved your body in such a way that it changed… your thinking. It’s the same thing without needing to take a shower. So, it… she tapped on that, and she got way better way better as she… then, you know… we clear the past. Step one is clear the past, so they don’t have these triggers… things don’t trigger you. And then, secondly, you clear the future, so that, as you imagine going out there now… you want her to be calm and confident with… and then she goes out and does it… it’s a process. You can’t like, get a one zoom session in with me, because it’s a conditioning process. So, she goes out, it’s like a video game, you go here on, then you fail, and then you need to.. oh, and then you fail and then you gain more skills. So, she… this becomes a Big League part, and she gets so critical. She was doing great and then she played with a guy who really came down on her… in a negative… you know, with criticizing, and it triggered this stuff. And she was… kind of back to a low level of performance with her forehand in particular… and why it’s her forehand? You know, it gets… it’s really complicated, but you don’t have to figure that out all out exactly. And then I said, well, this… critical voice, I said… well, whose voice is that? And she’s like, well it’s what’s my mom’s. And it’s like, okay…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Right, sure. 

Dr. Tom Hanson: And now we hear that, and then… off we go into that, and now we’re back in school and growing up… tapping on things that happened when she was young with her mom, so that she can gain freedom from it… such that it doesn’t trigger her anymore. Cause nothing means anything, I showed you like my Vikings cup… this, you know, to you and me it’s like, yeah!! And to Packers Fan, it might be boo. And to other people… like a Charger’s fan, it… means nothing.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Right.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: But this… we took Dad to the Viking Stadium for his 90th birthday, and he gets this cup, and then says… he gives it to me, and then he dies like 2 weeks later.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Aw, yeah.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: So it’s like the meaning of this to me…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Right, yeah.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: …where is that meaning? That meaning is in me… so, all meaning is in ourselves. And so, it’s in that lens… so, we gotta… it’s lens crafting – tapping affects the lens through which you see things, because we live in an “occurring” world… not a “is” world, you know… how does it occur to you? Jumping out of a plane… is that stressful? Depends on the lens, right? Because if I… if it’s my thousands jump, I’m probably not feeling the same as my first. So, it’s the same activity, but it’s perceived differently. So, the main work… if I work with somebody, it’s like 50 min on the lens and then 10 min on the Heads Up Baseball stuff, okay. And now here’s your… you know, let’s create a routine…. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: …because the lens is way more important than those actions.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, awesome. Thank you so much for sharing that with us, Tom.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: You’re welcome.  

Cindra Kamphoff: I think you know we all have experiences in the past that, you know… we make meaning based on the past. So… as I was listening to your experience with tapping, and helping people clear that… I think we can all relate to that, because there’s always been something that… we wish would have gone differently, or we still hang onto now that doesn’t serve us. So, thank you for sharing that. 

Dr. Tom Hanson: Yeah, you’re welcome. And you’re never done… you know it’s not like, oh, if you tap for X amount of time… and it’s a tool. It’s not a magic one, but it’s a tool that can be pretty miraculous one, but it’s just a tool, and you have to use it over time… I mean, everyday stuff comes, we’re so hardwired for safety that you’re not going to override that. I’m not gonna make that Shasta… that C class 1999 RV, that we have… you can do a lot to that. We redid the inside… okay? Great, but it’s still a 1999. You’re not, going to… you know, turn that into some jet stream… new thing, you’d have to start… so, it is with us. It’s like we’ve got our design, I grew up the way I did… my physiology, my family, my… all these things go into these programs, so it’s really always a matter of… that’s why, with that shish kebab, it just keeps going. You hit some goal… it keeps going, and you just keep setting new targets, and it is that journey, as that being on track is having that winning feeling is winning… but if you don’t have targets that you’re going through, then you’re back like I was with Skidmore baseball of first few years of like, hey, nice job, you guys really… did your routines… and they’re like, don’t you care that we just got our ass kicked? And it’s like, okay, I’m missing that the target part of life… yeah, do your routine, but do it with the intent to win. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah, yeah, love it. And so, as we wrap up, Tom, I want to ask you one question about your latest book, Who Will Do What By When, and my favorite quote from that book by the way… is this quote that, “No team can outperform the limitations of its leader. If you want your team to get better, you must get better.” So, tell us just you know one thing from the book that you think is the most important message from that book. 

Dr. Tom Hanson: Well, that’s a great one… and because nothing happens, if you don’t think you are… if you aren’t committed to expanding. I want… I need to expand and to say, oh, it’s me… if I’m a leader, it’s “I’m the bottleneck, if I don’t expand, the company can’t.” I’ll work with the CEO, and it’s like you and your vibe is the most important variable in this company, because crap runs downhill… and your vibe, your disposition, your vision, that’s what you ought to be doing is being the vision. If it’s contracted, if you’re down more because you’re a hard-nosed/getter done guy, I’m down in that lower part of that model… more red/yellow, you’ve got fewer options, you just don’t see the playing field. He’s a guy, Mark Joiner, I think… where it’s like the top variable for… the one who makes a good… the top quality sees the playing field… whether it’s a battle, corporate, or football… do you see, oh… I see what’s actually happening. And to do that, you really have to continue to evolve, and having said that, what we then get to is the who will do what by when… you don’t even have to read the book, just say that… at the end of a meeting  

Cindra Kamphoff: Right, sure.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: … master certified coach, he’s amazing. And this was 20 years ago, and we’re like, oh, yeah, we got fired by the Yankees. We moved here to work full-time with the Yankees and it lasted one year. They just weren’t really ready…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Sure.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: And other stories, but so now we’re going to corporate, and it’s like, yeah, we’re going to do planning and “lala”, you know, high level stuff… and then it’s like we realize, people don’t block and tackle… you have to throw and catch. The Vikings can design a great play, but if that, oh, it doesn’t block that X, then it doesn’t matter.,, it’s not going anywhere. So, you have to execute the fundamentals and honoring your word is the most important business asset that you have is your own integrity… it’s like I’ll do business with that guy because I trust him – and how do you build that trust? You make a commitment – I will do X by Y. I will get back to you with this by noon on Friday, and then you do it. You put a brick in the wall of building a high integrity bridge between the two of you. You violate that… and so, it gets… you get stuff done, better relationships, and you feel better about yourself. So, the road to success is paved with commitments. What do you mean commitment? I’m committed to saving the… helping the veteran. Okay? Great. But let’s operationalize that – I will do X by Y. Like that. And that’s fat part of bat on ball, do simple better…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Yeah.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: …and it’s a fictional story with the love interest going on underneath. It’s really fun… we had some really good help crafting that, and so, it’s again… a fictional story of a guy who was successful salesman, now a failing manager… and he goes to his high school baseball coach who helps him learn this model that I just kind of brushed over. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Well, perfect. So, your 4 books – Heads Up Baseball, Heads Up Baseball 2, Who Will Do What By When, and then Play Big, you know. Such great content and ideas here… and, Tom, thank you so much just for joining us on the podcast. I’m going to work to summarize today, to the best of my ability… and at the beginning we talked about meaningful and just being mindful about what you put meaning towards… 

Dr. Tom Hanson: Yeah, and I like it… I’m sorry. I like it as “meanify” as a verb…  

Cindra Kamphoff: Oops sorry I think I said it wrong, meanify.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: As the verb… to deliberately put meaning onto something.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Perfect, okay meanify, there we go. We talked about the green light… and the breath, and why that breath is so important. We were talking about your dissertation and what you learned from some of the best pros… we were talking about ABC – Act big, Breath big, and Commit big… and then tapping to help us continue to break free from some of those past experiences, and I appreciate how you shared that with us, and at the end about your newest book. So where can people find out more about you and learn more about your books and buy them? 

Dr. Tom Hanson: So, Dr. Tom Hanson is the main… it’s just very simple site, but so it’s Dr. Tom Hanson, HANSON to contact me. There’s a contact form, and that’s… that’d be the easiest for that. Our business site is Heads Up Performance. So just like Heads Up Baseball, but it’s “Heads Up” with no dash,… and I have a as well.  

Cindra Kamphoff: Awesome. 

Dr. Tom Hanson: So there, that would be… those would be the best things, and my email would be again. The Dr Tom, so happy to have people reach out for more information, or anything I could help with… that would be great. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Thank you so much, Tom. I’m grateful that you’re here and appreciate your wisdom and your experience. So, thank you so much for being on the podcast.  

Dr. Tom Hanson: You’re very welcome, I had a great time. You did a great job, and you really do great work… I’ve watched you and admired you for a good while, so it was a fun experience for me. 

Cindra Kamphoff: Thank you, Tom. I appreciate it.