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The Mental Game with Sam Brief

The Mental Game with Sam Brief

By Sam Brief
You watch athletes achieve extraordinary feats. You analyze coaches’ decisions. You listen to broadcasters narrate the games. What’s happening inside these performers’ minds?

In “The Mental Game” podcast, Sam Brief learns the mental machinations of the most scrutinized performers in the world.

Music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe to The Mental Game on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and more.
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Andy Harris

The Mental Game with Sam Brief

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Bob Tewksbury
Episode 22 of The Mental Game Podcast features 13-year MLB veteran and certified mental skills coach Bob Tewksbury.  After pitching for six big league teams and winning 110 games, Tewksbury earned a master's in psychology and enlisted as a mental skills coach with the Boston Red Sox, where he won three World Series rings. He then moved to the San Francisco Giants and Chicago Cubs before crafting his own practice, which you can find at BobTewksbury.com.  A titan in the industry, Tewksbury authored Ninety Percent Mental, which (producer’s note) is an absolute must for any sports psych nerd.  On the podcast, Tewksbury reminisces on his career through a mental game lens, while offering insight into how mental coaching has transformed sports as we know them. Enjoy and be well. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
50:47
February 24, 2021
Matt Gerdes
Episode 21 of The Mental Game Podcast features world-renowned BASE Jumper, skydiver, author and CEO Matt Gerdes.  Gerdes is one of the world’s top BASE jumpers, completing 1,200 jumps and skydives to date. He authored The Great Book of BASE and also co-founded Squirrel Wingsuits.  On the podcast, Gerdes brings us inside the mind of a BASE jumper. As one of the world’s most dangerous sports, BASE jumpers must be incredibly risk-averse. In spite of the treacherous risks, Gerdes describes why it’s well worth it, thanks to the eurphoric and peaceful feelings he experiences mid-jump. Enjoy and be well. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
28:29
February 15, 2021
Joel Goldberg
Episode 20 of The Mental Game Podcast features Kansas City Royals broadcaster Joel Goldberg.  Goldberg serves as pregame and postgame show host for the Royals on FOX Sports Kansas City while also hosting the “Rounding the Bases” podcast. In addition, Goldberg is a renowned public speaker, tailoring his message to the value of people. As he says, “it’s always about people.”  Goldberg also authored Small Ball Big Results, which focuses on the little things that add up to wins in baseball, business and life.  On the podcast, Goldberg delves into the value of relationships and how those relationships have been turned upside down by COVID. He also shares stories of his tenure with the Royals and breaks down the perfect hot dog. Enjoy and be well. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
49:54
February 8, 2021
D.J. Snelten
Episode 19 of The Mental Game Podcast features former Major League pitcher D.J. Snelten. Snelten pitched for the San Francisco Giants in 2018 and is now a member of the Chicago Cubs organization.  After leaving the Giants, Snelten briefly joined the Orioles before spending the 2019 season with the Chicago Dogs of the American Association. In Chicago, Snelten experienced a mental turnaround, in part guided by teammate (and former idol) Carlos Zambrano. Since then, Snelten has skyrocketed back into affiliated baseball.  On the podcast, Snelten breaks down his psychological approach to pitching and takes us through the life-changing moment in 2019 that turned around his career.  Enjoy and be well. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
42:23
February 2, 2021
Chad McGehee
Episode 18 of The Mental Game Podcast is with the Director of Meditation Training at the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department, Chad McGehee.  McGehee is literally one-of-a-kind: He’s the only Director of Meditation at an athletic department (as far as he knows). He serves a unique role in strengthening the minds of Wisconsin Badgers across all sports. On the podcast, McGehee touches on his role at UW before explaining how we all can incorporate mindfulness practices into our daily lives. He even takes us through a short, but effective, mindfulness practice.  Enjoy and be well. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
51:05
January 25, 2021
Swen Nater
Episode 17 of The Mental Game Podcast features former NBA and ABA star Swen Nater.  Nater won two championships playing for the great John Wooden at UCLA. Now an author and motivational speaker, the Dutchman heeded Wooden’s famous philosophy while serving as a practice player behind Bill Walton.  Nater was born in the Netherlands and immigrated to the U.S. as a nine-year-old. Before stepping on American soil, he had never seen a basketball. Nater didn’t play in high school after being cut his junior season but subsequently catapulted to All-American heights at Cypress College in California. After Nater’s dominant season at Cypress, Wooden recruited the big man to UCLA, telling Nater he wouldn’t play but that he’d learn, practice and make it to the pros.  Nater then became the only player to never start a college game but wind up as a first-round NBA Draft selection. He played 12 professional seasons.  On the podcast, Nater reflects on the myriad teachings of John Wooden, including the Hall-of-Famer’s legendary attention to detail and high-octane practices. Also a former sports psychology professor, Nater delves into how each of us can apply Wooden’s philosophy to our own lives. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
50:17
January 19, 2021
Andy Harris
Episode 16 of The Mental Game Podcast features performance coach, author and speaker Andy Harris.  Harris wrote Leading From the Back and works with an eclectic mix of clients, including college baseball teams and college basketball referees. In the podcast, Harris delves deep into his fascinating work with basketball officials, lending insight into how he coaches them on dealing with incessant booing and occasional missed calls. Harris also coaches us on his visualization and goal-setting techniques. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
41:18
January 15, 2021
Ray Ray McElrathbey
Episode 15 of The Mental Game Podcast features Ray Ray McElrathbey, a former Clemson football player who is portrayed in the new Disney film, Safety.  Safety tells the powerful story of Ray Ray and his brother-turned-son, Fahmarr. With Fahmarr in jeopardy of entering foster care, an 18-year-old Ray Ray took custody of his then-brother, who moved into his dorm room at Clemson. Ray Ray, who became Fahmarr’s legal guardian, battled through myriad obstacles (including fighting NCAA violations) to raise Fahmarr. On the podcast, McElrathbey reflects on the lightning-quick maturation process he underwent while raising Fahmarr in college. He also details how he managed his own mental health and expounds on his present-day mission, including helping other former athletes to transition into life after sports. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
54:04
January 5, 2021
Dr. Rob Bell
Episode 14 of The Mental Game Podcast features mental toughness coach Dr. Rob Bell. Bell has coached PGA Tour champions, an Olympic medalist, a USTA National Champion, plus other professional and college athletes. He’s also caddied over 20 events on the PGA Tour and has penned seven books on mental toughness.  Bell also battled life-threatening injuries to become an Ironman athlete. He’s currently training to run 100 miles in the fall.  On the final episode of 2020, Bell details how falling off an 80-foot cliff changed his life, describes the magic of mental toughness and applies his philosophy to hot-button topics in sports today. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
44:03
December 31, 2020
John Walsh
Episode 13 of The Mental Game Podcast features longtime NBA and MLB producer John Walsh. Walsh is currently the television director for the Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee Brewers and most recently served as producer for both the Chicago Bulls and Chicago Cubs.  In his packed career, he has worked for the Los Angeles Raiders, the NFL on FOX (on John Madden’s crew), FOX Sports Arizona, FOX Sports Wisconsin, Comcast SportsNet Chicago, NBC Sports Chicago, FOX Sports 1 and the Big Ten Network. Walsh also operates his own sports production company to produce amateur sports. Walsh co-hosts and produces the “Gimme the Hot Sauce” podcast with Stacey King and Mark Schanowski, as well. In this episode, Walsh discusses the myriad lessons he’s learned from the TV truck, in which rapid communication and level-headedness reign supreme. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
50:41
December 7, 2020
Hannah Huesman
Episode 12 of The Mental Game Podcast brings Hannah Huesman to the show. Huesman is a mental skills coach for the Philadelphia Phillies and the host of #MentalSweatMonday on her Instagram page, @hannahhuesman. She was recently named No. 2 on LinkedIn’s list of “Top 10 Voices in Sports” for 2020. On the podcast, Huesman breaks down her role training the minds of Phillies players, practicing the crucial skill of listening and encourages us all to add an “optimistic cherry on top” of our days. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
45:15
December 1, 2020
Abbie Wolf
Episode 11 of The Mental Game Podcast features Abbie Wolf, a former Northwestern women’s basketball player now playing professionally in Spain for Club Deportivo Zamarat. Wolf recently penned a touching and cogent essay in The Daily Northwestern outlining her mental health journey throughout college (linked here). In this episode, Wolf discusses her battle with performance anxiety, the value of meditation and why she decided to publish a first-person essay. She also reflects on the 2017 suicide of teammate Jordan Hankins and describes the profound reverberations of that tragedy. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
43:26
November 23, 2020
Butch Hobson
For Episode 10 of The Mental Game podcast, 46-year professional baseball veteran Butch Hobson joins the show.  Hobson played seven seasons in Major League Baseball for the Boston Red Sox, California Angels and New York Yankees. In 1978, Hobson set a then-Red Sox record for home runs by a third baseman, with 30. He also managed the Red Sox from 1992-94 and has been a manager in Minor League Baseball and Independent ball since, including for the past three seasons with the Chicago Dogs in Rosemont, Illinois (where I have broadcasted for two years). Before reaching professional baseball, Hobson played for legendary coach Bear Bryant as a quarterback at the University of Alabama. In an extensive conversation, Hobson dives into the psychological side of baseball, lessons learned from Bear Bryant and the challenge — and joy — of managing his own son, K.C. Hobson. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
40:22
November 16, 2020
Dr. Megan Roche
Episode 9 of The Mental Game podcast features Dr. Megan Roche, who is a lot of things. Roche not only is a medical doctor and PhD student in Epidemiology at Stanford University, but she is also a national-champion Trail Runner who was named the 2016 U.S. Trail Runner of the Year. Roche recently co-authored a Stanford study that delved into the severe mental health impact COVID-19 has wreaked on athletes. On the podcast, Roche analyzes the study and its impacts, previews how athletes can adjust post-COVID-19 and gives us some tips on how to navigate the pandemic (hint: wear a mask). The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
41:09
November 9, 2020
Dr. Harold Shinitzky
Episode 8 of The Mental Game podcast is with world-renowned sports psychologist Dr. Harold Shinitzky. Shinitzky works with Olympic and professional athletes from every major association (PGA, NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL), in addition to top junior and collegiate athletes. He also serves as president of the Florida Psychological Association and is the author of A Champion's Mindset: 15 Mental Conditioning Steps to Becoming a Champion Athlete. In an engaging discussion, Dr. Shinitzky breaks down mental toughness, explains why stress isn’t real and dishes out the secret to effective trash talk. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
54:52
November 2, 2020
Coby Karl
Episode 7 of The Mental Game podcast features South Bay Lakers Head Coach Coby Karl. Karl is the son of 2013 NBA Coach of the Year George Karl and played in the NBA, most notably during the 2007-08 season with the Los Angeles Lakers. During that season, Karl soaked up knowledge from all-time greats like Kobe Bryant and Phil Jackson. Now in his fifth season as the head coach of the Lakers’ G-League affiliate, Karl is paving his own path in coaching, using many of the techniques he picked up during his playing career and from his father. In this episode, we dive into those methods, reminisce on Karl’s stint with the Lakers and touch on what made Kobe Bryant so extraordinary. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
35:33
October 23, 2020
Sean Quinn
For Episode 6 of The Mental Game Podcast, Sean Quinn joins host Sam Brief. Quinn is a Mental Conditioning Consultant with the Moawad Consulting Group who boasts thousands of hours coaching professional athletes in baseball, football, basketball, soccer, tennis and golf world as well as top corporate executives.  Quinn takes us through the mental conditioning approach his company employs, which has guided elite athletes such as Russell Wilson and coaches like Nick Saban and Jimbo Fisher. He also explains how these coaching techniques can not only help an NFL quarterback come back to win a Super Bowl, but also to help you in your day-to-day life. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
38:23
October 15, 2020
Adam Amin: Part 2
Episode 5 of The Mental Game Podcast features part 2 of a conversation with Adam Amin of FOX Sports the Chicago Bulls. In this installment, Amin expounds on the special relationship he had with his father, Mohammed, who immigrated to suburban Chicago from Korachi, Pakistan in 1978. Mohammed passed away in March 2018, while Amin was in the midst of his typically stacked broadcasting schedule. Amin reflects on his father’s passing and how he processed it, while also touching on the lasting mental health lessons he’s picked up on the way. In case you missed part 1: ESPN hired Amin in 2011, after the 24-year-old graduated from Valparaiso University and spent a few seasons in Independent Professional Baseball and as the Sports Director KUOO, a radio station in Spirit Lake, Iowa, among other gigs. At ESPN, Amin called college football and basketball games on TV, while also broadcasting NFL and MLB games on ESPN Radio. In 2018, he added the NCAA Women’s Final Four and preseason Chicago Bears games to his resume. Now in his first season with FOX, Amin is an NFL and MLB play-by-play broadcaster. His hometown Chicago Bulls (Amin grew up in suburban Chicago) hired him in June as the team’s new TV play-by-play voice. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
41:27
October 9, 2020
Adam Amin: Part 1
Adam Amin of FOX Sports and the Chicago Bulls joins Episode 4 of The Mental Game Podcast, which is split into two parts. In part 1, Amin delves into… How he mentally prepares and focuses for broadcasts The unparalleled value of adjustments His emotions before, during and after calling Notre Dame star Arike Ogunbowale's game-winning shots in the 2018 Final Four against both UConn and Mississippi State. ESPN hired Amin in 2011, after the 24-year-old graduated from Valparaiso University and spent a few seasons in Independent Professional Baseball and as the Sports Director KUOO, a radio station in Spirit Lake, Iowa. At ESPN, Amin called college football and basketball games on TV, while also broadcasting NFL and MLB games on ESPN Radio. In 2018, he added the NCAA Women’s Final Four and preseason Chicago Bears games to his growing résumé. Now in his rookie season with FOX, Amin serves an NFL and MLB play-by-play broadcaster. His hometown Chicago Bulls (Amin grew up in suburban Chicago) hired him in June as the team’s new TV play-by-play voice. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
32:55
October 5, 2020
David Mullins
Episode 3 of The Mental Game Podcast features Ireland-Based Sports Psychology Consultant David Mullins. In the past decade, Mullins has primarily consulted with mixed martial arts fighters, including multiple UFC champions such as the "Notorious" Conor McGregor. In recent years, he has also worked with pro athletes and coaches in basketball, baseball, football and soccer. In this episode, Mullins reflects on his work with McGregor and shares his process for prepping an elite fighter for a high-pressure bout. Mullins also expounds on the over-hyped nature of visualization exercises, compares mixed martial arts fighters to other athletes and even weighs in on the Chicago Bears quarterback situation. The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
51:25
September 29, 2020
Reggie Hearn
Episode 2 of The Mental Game features seventh-year basketball pro Reggie Hearn. Out of high school, Hearn received no Division I scholarship offers, so he joined the Northwestern University basketball team as a walk-on. Four years later, he left Evanston as the team’s leading scorer. Then in 2018, after four G-League seasons, Hearn broke through and made it to the NBA with the Detroit Pistons. He’s since been grinding it out in the G-League, hoping for another shot while also competing for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.  Hearn is strikingly transparent about his mental health struggles. Once a Psychology major at Northwestern, he also advocates for more mental health awareness and advocacy in sports and the world at-large.  In this episode, Hearn first reflects on his last few months amid COVID-19 (3:28). He then discusses how anxiety has affected his basketball career and his life (5:02).  Hearn explains his how mindset changed after making it to the NBA in 2018 (19:40). He then expounds on memories of his time competing with Team USA, where he met LeBron James, Anthony Davis and others (23:50). Finally, Hearn shares parting thoughts on his journey with mental health and what others can glean from it (28:06).  The Mental Game podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Stitcher.
35:06
September 21, 2020
Casey Crosby
Episode 1 of The Mental Game highlights Casey Crosby, who has spent 11 seasons pitching in professional baseball, including a short stint in 2012 with the Detroit Tigers. Crosby breaks down the unique psychological hurdles of pitching and how he navigated them early in his career (5:15). Then, he discusses Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott being open about his struggles with depression and relates it to his own mental health history (14:20). Crosby takes us inside the whirlwind of emotions he felt prior to his MLB debut against the New York Yankees (23:35), and his subsequent demotion and release (27:55). He reflects on pitching amidst the COVID-19 pandemic (32:28). Finally, Crosby previews his next steps (39:37). Here’s a link to Our Brave Faces, a stigma-breaking organization run by Haley Crosby, Casey’s wife: https://www.ourbravefaces.com This podcast is produced by Sam Brief and music is courtesy of David Brief and Channel J. You can subscribe to The Mental Game on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
42:27
September 16, 2020