Ninety Percent Mental: An All-Star Player Turned Mental Skills Coach Reveals the Hidden Game of Baseball.
"I am standing atop a desert mountain, I am starting a brand-new job and I am bleeding profusely." And so begins Bob Tewksbury's book Ninety Percent Mental, co-authored with Scott Miller.
Tewksbury, a 1992 All-Star with the St. Louis Cardinals, begins his book discussing how he got badly hurt on a hike near Phoenix, Arizona when cactus needles got embedded in his thigh, causing him to bleed. Tewksbury uses this story to contextualize the theme of his book, which focuses on the mental aspects of playing baseball. Reflecting on that moment of danger, Tewksbury thought, "...I know if there's one constant in life, it is that at various checkpoints we all find ourselves smack in the middle of situations in which we're tired and hurried, and navigating through this maze to successfully exit at the other end is not an easy proposition...Slow down...breathe...focus." Tewksbury's approach to challenges, whether it involves hiking in the deserts of Arizona, or on the mound and behind the count, makes up the core of his intriguing new book.
The mental aspects of playing baseball that the book focuses on include looking into one's own mind to see how he can improve as a player. For example, if a pitcher is thinking about the intimidating hitter on deck, then he's not focused on the hitter at the plate. Those thoughts distract the pitcher, which makes it even harder to retire the hitter at the plate. In other words, if a pitcher, or any player for that matter, is too focused on negative thoughts then those thoughts become reality.
What makes Tewksbury's book so important is how it focuses on the importance of an athlete's mental health. It's all too easy to assume that athletes live the easy life with their big salaries, but that is hardly ever the case. This book highlights the fact that athletes face the same types of stress that many non-athletes face on a daily basis, and how that stress can be particularly devastating, especially when you have tens of thousands of people in the stands watching your every move. Tewksbury's book is not only an interesting and insightful read about baseball, but it highlights the importance of taking care of one's mental health. As experts continue to combat the stigma commonly associated with mental healthcare, it is great to see someone like Bob Tewksbury contribute something that will certainly help in the fight to destroy that stigma.
Tewksbury's book is an example of masterful storytelling that succeeds in merging intriguing stories from his career with useful mental skills that anyone can use in their respective profession.
Reviewed by R. Zachary Sanzone, August 8th, 2018.