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Meet Brandon Shintani of Mind-Design Sports

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brandon Shintani.

Hi Brandon, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Mind-Design Sports is a nonprofit organization that provides mental strategies/tips/advice to young athletes to improve their athletic skills. We currently have a team of approximately 155 high school and college athletes worldwide to help us in our mission. Our organization is very diverse. Consisting of team members from all over the world, including the US, New Zealand, India, Zimbabwe, London, Germany, Turkey, and Pakistan. to name a few; since our launch in the summer of 2020, our audience has reached all 50 states in the US and 124 countries throughout the world.

It was tough not realizing that my mental game was holding me back; I didn’t feel confident using the skills I practiced during games/competitions. I thought a lack of practice caused bad performances and anxiety leading up to big games. However, after taking AP Psychology 2 years ago and reading a small paragraph about sports psychology (and then doing more research on the field), I realized that my anxiety was interfering with my craft/game. I researched sports psychology techniques and learned and tried to apply them in my life. Then, I started Mind-Design Sports! I would incorporate tactics like breathing (box breathing specifically) and goal setting through TED talks, YouTube videos, and blog articles. Both of these helped, and still help me, on the court and in life.

Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
The most challenging part was learning how to be a good leader: how to manage so many team members, give out directions, and delegate. I spent two months on YouTube videos and the internet learning how to be a good business/nonprofit leader and CEO. My advice is to get a willing mentor to help you out. I interviewed someone on my podcast, and he ran his own nonprofit and was nice enough to be a role model who could answer my questions by leading a team whenever I needed it. That is one tip and then just sticking with it. Trial and error is never a bad thing, and I’ve learned so much through making mistakes (I used to micromanage and not let my team members “be free” and be independent, but I’ve realized now that a team culture requires a leader that isn’t so nit picky with everything).

We’ve been impressed with Mind-Design Sports, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The three main programs at Mind-Design Sports are blogs, podcasts, and mentorship programs. The blogs are written by high school and college athletes that cover topics such as self-talk, visualization, and goal setting. They address topics including sports psychology techniques and unique experiences that our student-athletes have experienced, such as adversity on the court/field. We try to make sure the blogs are applicable and informative to our audience (middle and high school athletes) so that they can gain the knowledge to better their skills in their respective sports.

The podcasts include a guest speaker every month where I, interview athletes, coaches, professionals, etc. The podcasts usually focus on a different sport or the guests’ experiences. I have had the pleasure of interviewing cool guests such as an Olympic coach, a US ski racer, and an internationally recognized chess player. Because it is a conversation, I try to make it very laid back so that the audience can enjoy listening to it while still gaining knowledge in sports and psychology.

The mentorship program connects high school athletes with younger athletes for free. This one-on-one aspect is crucial in helping younger athletes gain first-hand advice from older role models that have been in their shoes. Mentors and mentees have flexible relationships as they meet depending on the mentees’ needs and preferences, whether that is through zoom, text, or even email. For example, I recently paired up a friend playing basketball with a younger athlete who wanted to have a mentor to help him boost his confidence on the court.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting.
If you want to start a club/organization/non-profit, try to get 2-3 friends that can help you out from the start. You can bounce ideas off each other, which will help guide you to build a strong foundation organization-wise. Then, when you expand, everyone can take more team members under their wing; that way, there is always a strong structure in the team.

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