TCU baseball came into the the 2017 season as the consensus No.1 team.
That, along with three consecutive College World Series runs, can put pressure on the team to perform.
“You’ve got two options when those things come along,” said TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle. “You can not talk about it and run away from it, or as the Cubs did this past year, you can embrace it.”
The team has turned to one man to help them keep their minds clear: Brian Cain.
Just ask TCU catcher Evan Skoug.
Or first baseman Luken Baker.
Schlossnagle brought the peak performance coach to Fort Worth to work with the team.
Schlossnagle said he values Cain as much as anyone in the program.
“He’s instilled a mental game system that helps us play the game one pitch at a time, a system that helps the players be in control of themselves and their emotions,” he said. “We’re firm believers that you can’t be in control of your performance until you’re control of yourself.
Cain said his philosophy stems from 12 pillars, including: training an elite mindset, focusing on the process over the outcome and how to recognize when you’re getting out of control.
Schlossnagle and Cain have created a culture that can be summarized by the acronym- SEE: selfless, energy and excellence.
“Culture is where action is visible, where people are living selfless, and it can be talked about because everyone knows what it means and what it looks like,” Cain said. “[Schlossnagle] is one of the best in the country, and he and his coaching staff… are all on the same page with selfless, energy, and excellence.”
In addition to culture-building, Cain said perspective-building is the area where he makes the biggest impact.
TCU starting pitcher Jared Janczak has flourished since starting in the middle of the 2016 season, being named one of Collegiate Baseball’s National Players of the Week and earning the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week award after a dominating performance against Kansas last Saturday.
“We were talking to him, ‘Hey, it might be a good idea to go to junior college and get some innings,’” Saarloos said in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “And we’ll recruit you right back.”
Janczak decided to stay and redshirt his first year at TCU, and now he’s the ace of the Horned Frog pitching staff.
Cain also plays a pivotal part in encouraging successful high school players who don’t taste success at TCU immediately.
“My role is to help these guys, especially coming out of high school, because they’ve never failed in high school, so when everyone is good in college, there’s going be some tough times and adversity,” Cain said. “They’re winners and learners, not winners and losers, and if they’re not winning, they need to be using adversity as a learning tool to get better.”
Chicago Cubs’ All-Star pitcher Jake Arrieta, a former Horned Frog who worked with Cain in 2006 and 2007, is a player that Cain admires more for his work that he put in to earn the 2015 National League Cy Young award than the award itself.
“Jake Arrieta winning the Cy Young, I was proud of him, but I really got fired up at his process and how he’s trying to get even better by trying new workout methods like pilates, trying to push the envelope with body, so he can be a better athlete,” Cain said. “I get impressed with the process and those athletes who make the process a lifestyle.”
Schlossnagle feels Cain helped the team establish routines.
“He’s helped the guys the most with their routines, whether it be daily routines before or after games, pre-practice or pre-game routine, and then their pitch-to-pitch routine,” Schlossnagle said. “We have a very defined system as to how guys are supposed to handle pitches and at bats throughout the course of the game and how they’re supposed to handle negative things throughout the game.”
Cain said that his partnerships with teams in the college and professional ranks usually come to an end after a few years.
“I like to empower clients so they don’t need me,” Cain said. “To me the greatest compliment I can get is when a team or coach says they got it and they don’t need me anymore.”
Cain’s partnership with Schlossnagle and TCU doesn’t look like it’s coming to an end anytime soon–Cain has worked with the Horned Frogs for over a decade now.
“Jim [Schlossnagle] runs a great program, and he doesn’t need me in there, but he’s a constant learner and I think he likes having that edge and being open to new ideas,” Cain said. “He’s a learner and a student first and I think that’s why he’s maybe the best coach in the country.”
Schlossnagle appreciates Cain’s effect on TCU baseball so much that he’s caused Cain to relocate from his home in Vermont to North Texas.
“We got him to move here now, he’s in Southlake now, so he’s probably here three or four times a semester, and as a matter of fact, today I texted him and said we needed something from him, and he made a nice audio message,” Schlossnagle said. “It’s great having him so close, and we have scheduled times that he’ll be with us in the postseason, maybe a road trip, but if I need him, I can always get him over here pretty quick.”