Author Archives: brian

5 Awesome Benefits Of Summer Sports Camps

benefits of summer sports camp - baxter sports camps in portland orIt’s time to get excited for summer camps! What are your kids thinking about as school ends? No homework? Vacation? More time with friends? Why not add an exciting week or more at a Summer sports camp to their list! They will love it!

Summer camps are the perfect opportunity for your son or daughter to stay active and have fun as the Summer weeks roll by. They will wake up every day excited to learn new skills, make new friends, and become better athletes and teammates. You will rest easy knowing they are doing something they love: playing sports and games. At every level – whether your daughter is hoping to make varsity next year or your son wants to learn how to play soccer – there is a camp experience that is right for your family.

Here are 5 great reasons for why you should  send your child to a sports camp this Summer!

Make New Friends

Even if your son or daughter picks a sports camp with their friends, there will be lots of new kids to meet there, too.

Camps are designed to introduce your child to a big, new group of aspiring fellow athletes. From neighbors to old friends to rival teammates, the fun-first atmosphere of a summer camp allows kids to relax, be themselves, and be open to new friends and new experiences. They will meet new friends with different backgrounds, from different schools, and with different sports interests.

By getting out there and making these new friends, your son or daughter will discover the world is a better, more exciting place where strangers quickly become friends, where teammates support you on and off the field, and where a love of being outside and playing games bridges all divides.

Learn New Skills

Summer sports camps are designed so that your child has a good balance of work and play. Lessons and drills are mixed with games and structured mini-tournaments. Depending on the age, there may also be “free” time with less formal playtime allowing your young ones some freedom to run around and “just be a kid.”

The coaches and mentors at your local camp want your son and daughter to have fun in a safe, supportive environment. They also know that your child wants to learn new skills to improve their game and show off to friends and family. Practices are important to hone skills and learn new techniques, while scrimmages and tournaments allow them to try out their new moves.

From improving their shot to becoming a better blocker, your son or daughter will learn something new every day to make them a better, more confident athlete.

Create a Healthy Lifestyle

During a great sports camp, players don’t just learn new skills, they learn new lifestyle choices as well. Our coaches are models on the field and off, mentoring players in athletic techniques as well as healthy food and wellness choices. Coaches know how to fuel their bodies and their minds to be better athletes and they share their smart lifestyle choices with players.

Many summer sports camps take the time to incorporate life skills into their practices and lessons. Your daughter may learn about the importance of eating the right foods to be a more efficient athlete; your son may learn some yoga poses to work into his stretching routine in improve flexibility. Don’t be surprised when the benefits of going to camp are more than just athletic improvement, but an overall happier, healthier child.

Practice Teamwork

There is no better way to practice new skills than by playing on a team. No matter how many jumps shots your son practices in the driveway, he will only really get better by taking those shots in a game, by having to work against a smart defender, by having teammates to support him.

At each sports camp, teamwork is key. We want your daughter not only to play with her friends, but also to play for her friends. In the fun environment of a summer camp, your child will enjoy the positive reinforcement that comes from being a part of a team. They will practice supporting friends and strangers, and learn to be self-less and self-aware. They will grow as great people by being great teammates.

Gain Confidence

Without the pressure of a formal team and official season, your child will be able to learn new sports skills and life skills confidently over the Summer. They will discover that they have the ability to improve and to be a great teammate without any distraction. They will remember that playing the game is just playing games and having fun. In this safe, fun space, you will see their confidence grow as both athletes and wonderful young individuals. This Summer is the right Summer to get started!

5 helpful tips for motivating your young athlete

how to motivate your young athlete - baxter sportsSummer is here! School is out! Don’t let your aspiring young athlete lose her momentum just because the structure of school or the formal team is on break.

This is a great time for your son or daughter to learn excellent self-motivational skills and improve techniques in a less stressful setting. The rewards of keeping up activity and form over the holiday months will pay back huge dividends when the new seasons restarts in the Fall. Your daughter will feel confident about her skills; your son will feel more confident about his mental game. You will feel like this Summer was a great success!

Kinds of motivation

Most coaches agree that there are two kinds of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. This is a fancy way of saying that your young athlete wants to go out and play either because he loves the game for his own enjoyment (intrinsic) or because he thinks he has to (extrinsic).

One motivator is not more or less important than another. The key is to find what is more important to your child. Does he pick up the basketball every morning because he just loves the game; does he pick it up because he wants to make Varsity next year? Chances are it is a little of both. And this Summer, you can help him understand and use both of these types of motivating factors to his advantage.

4 M’s of motivation

A Learning Specialist at Norfolk State University recently came up with the 4 M’s of Motivation: Mission; Move; Momentum; Mindset.

We want to empower you to set your child on a path to success by finding a reason to play (Mission), planning to succeed (Move), keeping up the good work (Momentum), and believing in themselves (Mindset). Our 5 tips here draw from these M’s and help you and your young athlete make a game plan and win!

1. Give it a name

Take some time to talk with your son or daughter about what motivates them.

Are they driven by more intrinsic or extrinsic factors? You may think you know the answer. They may think they know the answer!

But we are sure that if you talk about it, you’ll be able to find out a bit more about what gets them on the field. They might realize something new about themselves as well. Sometimes simply saying out loud how much she loves soccer or how much he loves track can fill in any doubts students may have fostered about their passion.

Or maybe letting you know that they think they have a chance to make the varsity baseball team next year will help you better support that goal.

2. Quote it

Your child has an athletic hero. Whose stats do they know by heart? Whose penalty kick do they practice all day long?

Encourage your child to have a go-to quote from that player for those What-Would-Michael-Jordan-Do moments. Encourage them to hang the quote somewhere they will see it a lot – maybe put it on a planner, hang it on a door, make a tag and attach it to their duffel bag that they bring to practice every day.

This will let that hero’s motivating words be with them whenever they start to play or finish up after a long practice or game.

3. Take it on the field

Make sure your child has teammates this Summer! Even if it is not a formal team, playing with other kids not only improves their skills, but it also improves their overall happiness.

Social interaction makes us all happier, whether in life or at school. This is the same on the court and on the field. Developing greater interpersonal skills on the team and drawing motivation from those around them will make your child a better player no matter what.

They will find new reasons and ways to love their sport; they might even discover new extrinsic motivators or share theirs with their new friends.

4. Talk it through

After practice or after the game, talk through at least one great moment and at least one moment where there is something still to learn. (Never let the negative outweigh the positives.)

By identifying successes on a daily basis, your young player can find motivation to improve plays or techniques that were not as successful that day. In other words, let each achievement be the positive catalyst that encourages your son or daughter to push through anything he or she might view as less successful.

Connect the dots from success to motivation for greater success next time as soon as it happens.

5. Remind them they are awesome!

Perhaps the most influential, extrinsic motivating factor in your child’s life is you! Your words pick them up on a bad day and encourage them to succeed.

You can help them believe in themselves by believing in them first and always. If you want to motivate your child, tell them they are awesome! Give them words of encouragement that are realistic, but heartfelt.

Let her know how proud you are of that basket she made in the second half; tell him how impressed you are by his passing skills. Whether or not they ever tell you, they’ll thank you on the inside for motivating them to be better on the outside.

So let this Summer be a motivational Summer! From improving their technical game by playing with new Summer teammates to improving their mental game by helping them find the space to better understand themselves, you can help make your child’s Summer off-season the best season.

Top 5 Reasons Parents and Kids Love BaxterSports

Over the years, we are always honored to hear feedback about our camps.  So here are the top 5 Reasons parents and kids love Baxtersports:

1) The Coaches

“Where do you find your coaches?”  It’s a question I get most often from parents.  

It seems like the answer to that question should be, “through a rigorous nationwide search.”  But the real answer is usually: they find us!  

We strive to create and live an environment of integrity, respect, teamwork, inclusion, humility, and above all: fun. This camp culture attracts the people who have the same values. Many of our coaches were once campers, so they know the drill, and want to come back and make the experience just as fun for the campers as it was for them.

“We have had some great conversations since your competitive camp, and I’m really appreciative of the timing and your contributions to my daughter’s perspectives.  I am impressed with how highly she regards your information. Have a great day!” – Ericka, soccer mom

2. Community, Family, Friends

“Just wanted to say thanks so much for a great summer!!!  I asked (my son) if he knew anyone at camp since it was at a new location andk. he gave me that “10 year old look” and said “mom I know everyone at Baxter camp”.  Needless to say he feels right at home.’ – Kristin, sports mom

It’s quotes like these that inspire us to to keep it up.  Most experiences are better when you have someone to do them with, and sports is no different. We emphasize the importance of team concepts like teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and having fun together.  At our camps, some kids come with their friends, but everyone leaves with a new friend or two!

Community is valuable learning tool, and we strive to promote it on and off the field as much as possible. It’s common for coaches and campers to see each other at Timbers games, the grocery store, or just walking down Hawthorne. Don’t be surprised if they say hello!

“Thanks for a great introduction to our son’s first ever Baxter Sports Camp! He started off super shy this morning – feeling very nervous about his first time there and with nobody that he knows, but when we picked him up it was obvious that he had had a blast!” – John, new soccer dad

3. Kids stay active and engaged all day

“Thanks for the fun (for them) and the sanity (for me)!”  -Emily, mom of 3 boys

As from the quote above, kids love us because they are playing all day long, and parents love us because they can rest easy knowing their kids are staying active, learning and growing.

If you’re walking nearby Clinton Park, Rose City Park, or Fernhill Park on a summer day, don’t be surprised if you’re overwhelmed with the sounds of laughter, cheer, and excitement from one of BaxterSports camps. Our staff do a great job of creating fun skill-building drills that keep the kids engaged and active. If you’re not involved, you’re missing out!

“We enjoyed the first day of camp; the kids are exhausted!!! Thanks for such a great experience, we are ready for tomorrow!” – William, sports dad

If we hear a comment like this, we know we are doing our job!

4) Kids walk away feeling like they have learned and improved.

“Brian, Thanks for a great camp. (My son) said many times it was the best soccer camp he has ever been to. He really liked the format of each day and felt like he learned a lot. Great work by your team!” – Louis, soccer dad

At BaxterSports, we really want our campers to learn and improve their athletic performance. Although other camps may hold this reputation, we are not a camp who merely babysits and warehouses kids. Rather, we use our time and skills to connect with the campers and teach fundamentals of their sport, as well as other elements they may not get normally, like sport psychology and nutrition, all while having fun!

“Thank you for the 4 Pillars camp. My son had a great week and the curriculum seemed very worthwhile. I know he benefited from much of the week but one thing I know he liked a lot was the yoga.” – Julie, soccer mom

5) Fun, fun, fun!

“First thing my 10 yr old said when I picked him up- “when can I come back?!” Thanks so much for such a great time.” – Delia, sports mom

There’s a reason why our best marketing tool (by far!) is word of mouth. Why? Because when people do something they enjoy, they want to share it! Whether it’s our emphasis on new daily skills, diversity of staff, mixture of individual and group games, or our daily camp themes (don’t miss out on crazy hair day or our weekly talent show), it’s rare to find a camper without a smile on their face. A high percentage of campers attend multiple weeks throughout the summer, usually coming back with friends. The same campers also return summer after summer. Sign up for a BaxterSports camp and find out why!


Youth Sports Hydration Guide

As you know, we bring a Sports Nutritionist in to every camp to educate our young athletes of the importance of fueling up.  Hydration is a big part of that. Check out this handy guide for youth sports hydration.

This Youth Sports Hydration Guide was provided by Cisco Athletic

How to Visualize

I just released a new relaxation and visualization audio program for athletes called Sports Mindset Audio.

Sports Mindset Audio sport psychology visualization

Visualization can be defined as: ”

“Mentally rehearsing a skill, action, or outcome that you want to accomplish during training, practice or competition”

High level athletes often practice visualization to:

  • Improve performance
  • Get extra reps in a specific skill
  • Feel relaxed, calm, and confident
  • Prepare for stressful events

Click here to download or here to get on iTunes

The best of the best athletes ever use visualization for these reasons.

Emmitt Smith is the NFL’s All-time leading rusher.  Here are a couple quotes that explain how important it was for him to visualize while training to become a professional, and during his time as a pro:

emmitt-quote emmitt-smith

Steve Nash is the NBA’s all-time leader in Free Throw percentage at 90.43%.  Here’s a brief explanation from a Sports Illustrated article that explains how he used visualization to achieve this:







Carli Lloyd is one of the USA women’s national team’s best players. In the 2015 World Cup Final, she famously scored a hat trick, including a blast from midfield.  She spoke about visualization several times after that event:


Portland Barefoot Soccer tournament

3v3 Portland Barefoot Festival

Bubble soccer!

Attention Soccer fans! Kids 2nd grade through high school! Adults who want to play barefoot!  Bubble soccer players!  Soccer carnival participants!  Spectators!

It is time for the 7th annual 3v3 Portland Barefoot Festival raising money for youth HIV education in Africa….Sunday, June 5 at Concordia University.

The Portland Barefoot festival raises money for an organization in Africa that benefits HIV youth education.  Teams of 3-5 friends of any soccer level or team regardless of prior experience are welcome.  Kids play 4 games (15 minutes each) barefoot.  They are invited to make their own tee shirts and think of a creative name.  Kids also have the option of participating in the soccer carnival.  Or meet a Portland Timber or Thorn.  It’s a day of bonding with the way kids play around the globe.   

Register kid and adult teams here:

Anyone 14 years or older can volunteer, sign up here:

The Portland Barefoot is proud to raise money for Grassroot Soccer, an organization teaching and empowering youth in Africa about HIV using soccer (  Currently the Portland Barefoot is the largest fundraising soccer tournament for Grass Roots in the world

Check us out!

4 Pillars Elite Soccer Camp

high school soccer camp Portland OR

We are very excited to introduce our latest camp offering!  BaxterSports Summer Camps and Pursuit Soccer have teamed up to create this camp for high school aged players.

A natural extension from BaxterSports Competitive Soccer Camp, 4 Pillars gives players in the 2003-1998 birth years a place to continue on past middle school to an even higher level of training.


This year’s inaugural camp will take place at Buckman Field in NE Portland. July 11-14 from 9am-3pm.  There will be a limit of 36 players to make sure each athlete gets personalized attention in all 4 pillars of the game.

4 Pillars Elite Soccer Camp 2nd logo

The summer can be a really busy time for soccer players with tournaments, training, vacation, and more tournaments. What sets this camp apart is that the 100% physical demands of most camps is replaced by equal time on the field and in the classroom.

Players will be challenged technically on the field, tactically with a mix of on-field and inside video analysis, physically with yoga, sports nutrition, and injury prevention, and mentally with sport psychology techniques in the classroom.

Click here to register for 4 Pillars Elite Soccer Camp

Upcoming Event!

Coach Casey and Coach Blake will be at the Kenton Street Fair.  Come out and kick the ball, shoot some free throws, and enter to win a free week of camp at the BaxterSports booth!

Kenton Street Fair

Reflections from Camp – 3 Balancing Acts

Year 8 of BaxterSports Summer Camps has come to a close. It was the biggest and best year so far, thanks to the awesome community of dedicated coaches, supportive parents, and energetic young athletes. As the kids get back to school and we all settle back into a somewhat normal rhythm, I have reflected back at some of the lessons learned from summer camp. It boils down to the balancing act that is coaching/teaching/raising kids.  Enjoy!

  1. Balancing Patience and Firmness.  When working with kids, and especially lots of them, patience is a virtue. And believe me, and I speak for my coaches on this one, patience can be trying – especially on the 8th 90+ day in a row. Being firm in what you are asking is a necessity. Sometimes it feels like the two are mutually exclusive. But they actually work in conjunction as counterbalances.  Be too patient, and you’re bound to get walked on. Be too firm, and you’re bound to alienate. In today’s world where there is too much structure for kids in sports, we are constantly striving to strike the balance between structured learning and self-exploratory learning.
  2. Balancing Competition and Cooperation.  Conflict is an innate part of the human experience, and it can be a really uncomfortable one. At our camp, it’s not like we encourage conflict, but we don’t go out of our way to avoid it either. The kids are definitely NOT wrapped in bubble wrap and bathed in Purel. And thus are free to make some mistakes.  And time after time, with a little patience and firmness (see 1 above), conflict can be the root of a better relationship.  Last summer we had one camper leave after day one of a camp because of a conflict with another camper – this kid did not feel comfortable or safe and decided to leave the camp. We never want to lose a camper, especially since there is learning to be had when conflict arises!   This year we had a couple of younger boys who wanted to kill each other (and said as much – yikes!) – but with supportive coaches and parents they were able to work out their differences and actually become friends!
  3. Balancing What’s good for the Group and What’s good for the Individual. This is true in most sports, where the goals of the individual and team are not always the same. But that’s the beauty of sports sometimes – can you get an individual to sacrifice what they want for the greater good or the team, but at the same time, can you adjust the team to fit the individuals within. As we balance patience and firmness, as well as competition and cooperation, the camp is able to evolve to become better and better!


How to be a good sports parent

Here’s an interview I did for KGW news on sport parenting…

by Cathy Marshall, KGW Staff

Posted on October 25, 2013 at 1:48 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 25 at 5:38 PM

PORTLAND — University of Portland basketball player Bryce Pressley said he has seen some out of control sports parents over the years.

“One time a parent ran onto the court and almost tried to hit his kid, but the ref caught him,” Pressley said. “It was over the top.”

Pilots soccer player Erin Dees said she’s been the target of frustrated parents.

“I’ve had parents yelling things at me that college students wouldn’t even say,” she said.

But both Dees and Pressley said their parents found the perfect words when the competition got tough.

“They would tell me to forget about it and move on to the next game,” Pressley remembered.

“Once I slipped on a goal kick. I looked like a Bozo but my dad told me not to worry about it because no one saw it,” Dees said. “A sense of humor is good.”

At Sports Psychology Institute Northwest, Brian Baxter offers seminars about how to parent successful athletes.

“The biggest mistake parents make is coaching from the sidelines,” he said. “Often times they’re telling their kids to do something contrary to what the coach is saying, so the child doesn’t know who to please.”

Baxter recommends parents focus on the three things within an athlete’s control: attitude, effort, and preparing for the game.

He said those are starting points for effective conversations, and a positive pre-game message is also important.

“Work hard and have fun. That’s all I say to my kids,” Baxter said.

Once the game is over, he said young athletes need space.

“On the car ride home it’s best to let everyone decompress. Maybe say one or two things like, ‘I love watching you play’ or ‘You guys did great.’”

Dees and Pressley remember the long, quiet car rides home but also the long lasting message delivered by Mom and Dad.

“Don’t give up and follow your dreams,” Pressley recalled.

Dees said the most important lesson was “knowing that in the end it didn’t matter how you played, because they still would love you.”