Eli Straw, M.S. | Mental Performance Coach

Eli Straw holds a Master’s Degree in psychology with a sport psychology specialization. Eli brings a proactive and applicable approach to mental training. He believes that repetition is the key to success and so it is no different when it comes to mental training.

Eli has worked one-on-one with athletes from 6 different continents and over ten different countries on building a stronger mental game. Combined with his expertise in clinical and applied sports psychology, Eli has extensive experience coaching, teaching, and consulting with professional, elite, college, high school, middle school, and youth athletes. Eli also has experience playing baseball at the collegiate and professional levels.

His background has provided him with first-hand experience of the struggles faced by athletes and those wanting to perform well. He has witnessed both the ups and downs of sports and understands the impact competition can have on your mind. Eli works with athletes of all sports and all levels and is a current member of the AASP. You can also find him via his profile on Psychology Today.

“My work with Eli was really productive and definitely helped me when I was in a tough moment in my career. He’s great at pinpointing exactly what you need to improve and helps you do just that.”
-Michael C | Professional Soccer Player

Eli's Story

I’ve always loved sports. Ever since I was little they’ve been a part of my life. While I played many sports as a kid like most do, when I reached high school I decided to focus all of my attention on baseball. Beginning my freshman year I trained year round with the goal of playing college baseball. As I got older, my skills developed, my strength increased, and I was becoming a better player each year. But something else also happened…I began growing extremely anxious before games and I doubted myself a lot. Even though I was practicing more than any of my friends, I got frustrated thinking they were so much more confident than I was.

It was my freshman year of high school when I can remember anxiety really taking control of me as a baseball player. I can remember lying in bed at night before my first tournament with a high level travel ball team and just praying for rain. Yeah, that’s right, I wanted it to rain! Why? Because I was so anxious and afraid of playing that I figured it’d be best to not play at all. Now I can’t honestly tell you if it rained or not, I don’t remember specifically. But one thing I know for certain is that it was only the beginning and over the years my anxiety and self-doubt just kept growing worse.

Luckily it never stopped me from playing or training. In fact, I owe a lot of my work ethic to anxiety, because I was so terrified of not reaching my goals that I focused on perfecting my mechanics. But as I’ve seen in myself and many of the athletes I’ve worked with, training to be perfect driven by fear leads to playing tense and underperforming during competition. What you need as an athlete is a balance between a strong work ethic, belief in the skills you’ve built, and the ability to let go of the outcome when competing. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Where was I? Oh yeah, so towards the end of high school, while my mental game was pretty lousy, my physical skills and strength had improved and I was offered a spot on a college team. My goal had been achieved! Which unfortunately only meant one thing…more fear, more anxiety, and more self-doubt.

Fast forward to freshman year in college and I was a starter. I remained a starter all four years in college. I played third base and shortstop. Honestly, my freshman year was great, but I know I could have done better. As did my coaches and they never stopped reminding me of my potential. It wasn’t until my sophomore season, with the help of my mom, that I came to the decision to get some help on my mental game. It seemed to be the one thing still holding me back from being the player I trained so hard to be. I connected with a mental performance coach out of California named John Ellsworth. The work I did with him changed my life. Not only did he help my performances, but he also opened my eyes to the world of sport psychology. A world I have fallen in love with.

Over the next few years, I played well, though I still felt like I wasn’t performing up to my potential. When my college career came to an end, I wasn’t satisfied. Something in me told me I wasn’t ready to give up on baseball yet. So, I spent that summer playing in a league in Puerto Rico. There were scouts there, but nothing came of it. So, I kept training throughout the fall and winter, in hopes of signing with either a team in Europe or an independent league here in the U.S. During that time, I made the decision that when I was finished with baseball, I wanted to pursue a career in sport psychology.

So, while I was training I enrolled at Capella University, working towards my master’s in psychology with a sport psychology specialization. I loved the idea, because the program was a distant learning program, so I could work on my master’s while still playing baseball. What could be better than that?

That spring I landed on the Tucson Saguaros of the Pecos league. I played one season with them, enjoying every second of it. The experience was incredible and we won the championship that season. However, the best experience I can say I ever had with baseball came the following season, when I found myself on a flight to Europe.

Through a website called Baseball Jobs Overseas, I was recruited by the Brasschaat Braves out of Belgium. The experience was incredible. The culture was different, the people were kind, and I honestly played the best baseball of my life!

The reason I bring it up is because the previous year, during the offseason, I committed myself to strengthening my mindset. I took all the tools John taught me, coupled with what I learned through my master’s program, along with my own research, and got to work on overcoming my anxiety, gaining control over my mind, and building higher levels of confidence. It was during that time I began to form my proactive approach to mental training I now use and have seen repeated success with in mental performance coaching.

Before I went to Belgium, as I was finishing up my master’s, I founded Success Starts Within. It started with a new article each week (mostly as a way to research sport psychology topics) and grew into the business it is today. After my season in Europe I decided to step away from baseball. I could have kept playing in Europe and made a longer career out of it, but my passions had changed. I wanted to help other athletes who were dealing with the same kinds of mental game challenges I had to improve their mindsets so they can not only have more success within their sport, but enjoy themselves as well. Because when you’re dealing with performance anxiety, fear of failure, self-doubt, or any other mental block, it sucks the fun out of your game. And when that happens, you will never be the player you know you can be.

I now work with athletes from all over the world on building a championship mindset. Along with one-on-one coaching, I create mental training courses, write sport psychology articles each week and publish new YouTube videos each day to help athletes build the mental skills they need to succeed.

If you’re interested in learning more about mental performance coaching, or if you have any questions, please contact me at [email protected] or (252)-371-1602.‍

Thank you for reading my story and I wish you the best of success in all that you do.

Eli on Social

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