To paraphrase one of Yogi Berra's incisive gems, 90% of sports is half mental. Now while the mathematics of this assertion are clearly open to question, UC Irvine men's volleyball coach John Speraw has long believed that the mental side of his game has been undervalued.
Well-known for his innovative mind and lab-coat mentality on the bench, Speraw seized an opportunity this season, his 10th at UCI, to analyze how having a sports psychologist on his coaching staff could impact the performance of the program.
"There was no blueprint," Speraw said of hiring Andrea Becker, a professor of sports psychology at Cal State Fullerton, to replace longtime assistant David Kniffin, who left after last season to become a women's assistant at Illinois. "Has it worked out as I originally anticipated? No. But the end result has exceeded what I had hoped."
Becker, who played and coached softball at Sacramento State before being coaxed into the still controversial field of sports psychology, said her preexisting friendship with Speraw led to her involvement with the Anteaters this season.