Alliance Profile – Rick Peterson
Former Pitcher, Pitching Coach, and Director of Pitching Development for Various Teams in Major League Baseball, His Nicknames while in his MLB Days were “The Jacket” and “The Professor,” Author of Amazon’s #1 Best Seller, CrunchTime: How To Be Your Best When It Matters Most
What past life experiences, physical traumas or genetics do you believe have had an effect on your mental health?
I grew up in a baseball family, as my dad played in the Major Leagues and went on to become the General Manager for the “We are Family” World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates. I was surrounded by elite athletes like Roberto Clemente, Vernon Law, Bill Mazeroski, and Willie Stargell at a very young age and was able to see the pressures that they experienced and how they dealt with these types of anxieties in professional baseball. I gained an insider’s view of the mind of an athlete from 2-years-old all the way to my late teens when I was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles right out of high school. I then chose to go to college before I signed a professional contract, and in my freshman year, I had a major shoulder injury coupled with high anxiety before performances. It was a really difficult time where I saw myself being overcome with fear, worry, and doubt prior to big games and I would constantly experience the fight, flight, or freeze mechanism. It was really a difficult time and during those 4 years, I constantly went through arm injuries, which resulted in even more performance related anxiety issues. This really led me down the path to start studying performance-related behavior in college so I could overcome these issues.
How did the effects on your mental health appear in terms of symptoms?
Due to performance anxiety issues, it really caused a lot of disharmony prior to pitching in big games and it was always a constant battle to get my mind in the right place. This was paired with mild depression in dealing with not only the injury but performance anxiety as well. I was depressed about the constant injuries and realized that it could impact my ability for pitching in the Major Leagues. The performance anxiety made me feel like I needed a plan, process, and strategy to overcome these fears and that’s why I chose to study and get my college degree in performance-related behavior.
When and why did you decide to ask for help to get relief?
I realized that I could use my college education to study the solutions for performance anxiety issues and therefore got my degree in a combination of psychology and art. Practicing my art served as a sort of inner therapy for me.
What methods helped you individually get/feel better?
As I became more educated in performance-related anxiety and the solutions to it, it led me to take a TM (transcendental meditation) course and also practicing yoga when I was 21 years old. I began doing a lot of research and study on Eastern training methods that would allow you to unite the body and mind as one, and I began understanding how to deepen that practice. Through meditation practice, mindfulness practice, art, and yoga, it became a holistic therapy that eliminated fear, worry, and doubt. *Fear, worry, and doubt are based on a lack of preparation, a lack of knowledge, a lack of insight, and a lack of talent. Through practicing education I realized that I was prepared, I had the knowledge, the insight, and the talent in order to perform and that totally wiped out fear, worry, and doubt.
Why did you decide to go public with your story? Who were/are you hoping to help and how?
I realized as I transitioned from a player to start my career as a 15-year MLB coach, that the number one responsibility as a professional coach and in coaching the mental game is that everyone deals with fear, worry, and doubt. We all go to the same place. One of the things that led to this journey was the culmination of co-authoring a business leadership book called Crunch Time: How to Be Your Best When It Matters Most. It became personal therapy to offer the public a variety of skills, techniques, and coaching tips of the mental game that I practiced as a professional Major League Coach. I was able to offer that to the public through the book, keynote presentations, speeches, and executive coaching. The main reason for going public is that I truly believe that the quality of a person’s life is to impact someone else’s in a positive way. By studying and training myself with the mental skills of overcoming fear, worry, and doubt, I can provide coaching solutions to relieve people’s anxieties and disorders.
How did people react when you went public with your story?
People are overwhelmed with realizing that they’re not alone, we’re all in the same place, and we’re all dealing with the daily pressures of overcoming fear, worry, and doubt. That’s why #SameHere resonates so globally. Whether it pertains to our career, family, relationships, personal, or financial, we all need these strategies in our everyday lives to conquer these setbacks. The public’s reaction resulted in the book becoming the #1 Best Seller on Amazon for 5 weeks in a row in two different categories. The reception from the keynote corporate presentations and corporate workshops has also been phenomenal.