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Book Review : Heads Up Baseball 2.0

If you are competing and want to improve, this amazing book can help you.

Evan Longoria has an excellent mental game.
Evan Longoria has an excellent mental game.
Photo by Dustin Satloff/Getty Images


The book was written by Ken Ravizza, Ph.D and Tom Hanson, Ph.D.

My interest in Ken Ravizza’s ideas started when Jack Sommers sent me this 2015 video about Evan Longoria’s mental game. That video inspired me to read the book. When Evan Longoria was at Long Beach State, he learned ideas from Ken Ravizza.

“The essense is learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Have something to go to when the shit hits the fan. Because the shit will hit the fan and let’s be ready for it.” — Ken Ravizza, Ph.D.

Why is the book amazing?

The book was amazing for two reasons:

  • Although the book’s introduction talked about simple, the book was not simple. Re-reading parts of the book was not a burden because two six-hour airplane flights made it easy. A quote from an introduction page: “This is a comprehensive book on how to keep baseball simple.”
  • Each reader will view the book from their perspective, so it will be a different book for each reader. Reading the book’s ideas from a baseball player perspective, I understood the ideas but felt that I did not really understand the ideas. When I read the book from a competitive pickleball player perspective, the words leapt off the page and sang to my soul.

What is the book about?

The book was about two things:

  • How to get better at baseball (or any competitive sport) from a mental perspective.
  • How to be more consistent from a mental perspective.

What are two overarching ideas that span the book?

One overarching idea is that each baseball player needs to develop a mental process (a system) that works for himself. Works means he can focus on his process when distractions happen, especially when adversity happens. Many distractions are thoughts and emotions that drift into the players’ mind as a result successes and failures. The book’s idea reminded me of a benefit of practicing yoga.

Another overarching idea is that getting better at baseball is a three-step process that takes time: knowing it, doing it, and owning it. That three step process applies to getting better mentally.

What are a few ideas that meant something to me?

Improvement starts with a positive focus and an expectation that something good (success) could happen. Being an optimist is part of who I am, so this reminded me that I am often capable of improving despite my shortcomings.

When distractions and adversity happen during a practice session, it’s a good thing because the player can reinforce/sharpen his mental techniques (his system).

Simplify your inner awareness with a stop-light idea. Green means you feel good and are at your peak performance. One idea is that ideally your mental process will help you reach green and it will help you stay green. Another idea is that your mental process helps you better compete when you are yellow. When playing pickleball, my awareness clearly tells me that some days are green and some days are yellow. When my day is yellow, mental self-talk can help me compete better despite not being green.

What are a couple ideas about consistency?

Every day, a top athlete’s peak physical capabilities can differ. On days when their physical capabilities are less than 100%, their mental process can help them compete better. Thereby, their results are more consistent than their peak physical capabilities.

Every hour, and perhaps every minute, thoughts and emotions can hijack a player’s mental game. One way to prevent a hijack is routines. Another way to prevent a hijack is awareness of the unhelpful emotion/thought coupled with knowing (from experience) what works to put his mental game back on track.

The book talked about 12 strategies for success.

Near the end, the book talked about 12 strategies for success. Success for each strategy is about tipping the balance between two competing perspectives. Although the book is long (375 pages), my view is that the strategies section needed more pages of explanation.

The last chapter was perhaps the best.

The last chapter was about applying the book’s ideas to any life pursuit. For some people, reading that chapter would be all they needed to live a better life!


This book is valuable to anyone who competes and wants to get better. Some readers will not like that the book is very long. My insight is that if getting better was easy, then everyone would do it.

I learned some wonderful ideas. When I practice playing pickleball while applying a couple ideas, I’m confident they will improve my game. Eventually when I consistently use the ideas that work for me, they will be part of my process. I will own my improvement with gratitude to this book.