Archive for the ‘News & Events’ Category


Pioneer Press – Jan 21, 2006 – Marcus Fuller – Gophers need to adjust mind-set – Sports psychologists agree – U men need to stop dwelling on defeats – Dan Monson is starting to sound more like a motivational speaker than a basketball coach.

The University of Minnesota’s leader talked before Friday’s practice about “staying in the moment” and “looking at the glass as being half full.”

The losses are piling up for his Gophers (9-6, 0-4 Big Ten Conference), and the biggest reason is the team’s waning confidence.
If his players don’t change their mind-set, Monson knows they can’t expect to get their first Big Ten win tonight against Michigan at Williams Arena.

Monson doesn’t want his players focusing on defeats. But he did see positive signs in Wednesday’s 76-72 triple-overtime loss at Iowa.
“I thought they did a great job at Iowa of staying within the moment,” he said. ” You can’t look at the past, because that doesn’t help your confidence. You can’t look into the future and look down the road to all of the tough games you have. Especially in a town like this. The glass is always half empty. As I told the kids, all you hear about is we’re 0-4.”

Will Monson’s attempts to keep the Gophers focused pay dividends? Sports psychologists agree with his direction.

“It sounds like he’s taking a great approach,” said Jeff Janssen, a peak performance consultant who has worked with college programs such as Arizona, North Carolina, Stanford and Duke.

“If you start dwelling on the negative, it just gets bigger and bigger. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. A lot of times I just tell guys to go back to being an 8-year-old kid again. I tell them just to have fun.”
Greg Cylkowski of Little Canada, a human behavior analyst, has worked with several Gophers teams, including the women’s basketball team. He theorized why the Minnesota men couldn’t pull out the win at Iowa.

“Were they enjoying themselves?” he asked. “They should have been thinking that this is the kind of game we want to be in. You have to seize the moment. Sometimes you have to win ugly and just on grit.”
Last season’s Gophers might not have been as talented as the current edition. But Monson knew he could usually count on winning those “ugly” games.

“Last year we kind of got that identity,” he said. “We’re starting to do that here by making the games ugly. Now we just have to win them.”
A win against the Wolverines (12-3, 2-2) would go a long way toward helping the Gophers regain confidence. But Dr. John F. Murray said that’s only one step.

Murray, a prominent sports psychologist from Palm Beach, Fla., recommends four steps for building up a team:

1. Modeling � trying to emulate another great team.
2. Start fresh � look out for mood and intensity in games.
3. Self talk � watch out for negative thoughts.
4. Winning.

Despite failing to finish off the Hawkeyes, Minnesota saw some positives.

The Gophers got an energy boost from freshman Jonathan Williams, who had a career-best 11 points and 10 rebounds in 33 minutes off the bench.

Monson is expected to start Williams tonight against a big Michigan team.

Minnesota played well defensively, holding Iowa to 39 percent shooting, 1 of 20 from three-point range. But the Gophers couldn’t overcome another poor performance at the free-throw line. They shot 54 percent for the game and 5 of 12 in overtime. They rank last in the Big Ten in free-throw shooting (58 percent).

Murray said problems at the line could be solved by coming up with a routine that takes the focus away from thinking about the shot.
“I got interviewed about why (Indianapolis Colts) kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed the field goal against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week,” he said. “Free throws are the same thing. It usually comes down to thinking too much. It gets in the way. If you get caught up in a ritual or routine, your shot just becomes automatic. You just do it.”

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.


Bloomberg Wire Service – Jan 18, 2006 – Scott Soshnick – Every parent who has a child playing sports should spend a day with Dr. Lyle Micheli, director of the Division of Sports Medicine at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

If they watched Micheli poke and prod kids with scarred knees, elbows and psyches, perhaps mom and dad wouldn’t be so quick to press their children into competition.

“Let me use a clinical term to describe parents today,” says Kevin Leman, a psychologist in Tucson, Arizona, and the author of 28 books on family dynamics. “They’re nuts.”

That’s especially true when it comes to kids and sports, says Leman, whose take is buttressed by the endless x-rays and MRI scans examined by Micheli. Some 30 percent of Micheli’s visitors suffer from a preventable overuse injury called osteochondritis dissecans, or OCD, where a piece of cartilage or bone breaks off in a joint.

“Parents get so caught up in coaches telling them their kid is promising,” Micheli says. “Parents push more, the coaches push more and kids are reluctant to say anything. It can be catastrophic.”

You need only attend a youth soccer game to catch a parental meltdown. Fist fights in the stands aren’t unusual. Parents have even beaten referees senseless over perceived bad calls.

Need to Play

One of Micheli’s patients last week, a teenage girl who injured her hip on the basketball court, kept playing because a teammate fouled out and the coach said she was needed.

“She just NEEDED to play,” Micheli says after leaving the examination room, mimicking the overbearing parent’s explanation.

Another patient, a 17-year-old female distance runner and lacrosse player, feared disappointing her mother if she didn’t participate in a track and field event. She was there because her foot hurt. She was close to developing a stress fracture, Micheli told her.

Most troubling, though, was the 10-year-old boy, a soccer player, who already had been through OCD surgery on one knee. He was lucky this time around: no operation needed.

“He’s got what I call thick-chart syndrome,” Micheli says. “That’s when I’ve been seeing a patient for a while and the paperwork piles up.”

Micheli’s horror stories include a 9-year-old gymnast with a stress fracture in her back. He also treated a boy with soreness in both elbows. The boy’s father, it turns out, had the child throwing 50 pitches a night, left-handed and right-handed, on top of what he was already doing at practice and in games. Hard to believe his elbows hurt.

Lucky Ones

The kids who make it to Dr. Micheli might be the lucky ones.

While surgery certainly isn’t fun, at least it corrects the problem.

What about the kids whose problems are emotional, not physical? A limp is easier to spot than depression. There’s a good chance those kids will never reach someone like Dr. John F. Murray, a Palm Beach, Florida, sports psychologist who frets that parents are doing more harm than good.

“What is below the surface is much more pervasive and longer lasting than a twisted ankle or broken arm,” Murray says. “Kids will do anything to please their parents and coaches.”

{Note from Dr. Murray: The key here is balance. Parents need to be smart and to know that their kids play sports first for the love it. Scott does a great job in this article of showing the ugly side of youth sports and the dangers of pushing kids who don’t enjoy it, or acting without proper knowledge about injuries and limitations. This is an area where sport psychologists often help parents find a balance. Many kids do love their sports, and benefit from direction and a push at times. But irresponsible training that leads to injury or depression does nobody any good. If your kid truly loves it you know you’re doing a good job. Seek professional advice from a good coach, physician or sport psychologist if you have doubts}

Bob Boone has a unique perspective on sports and adolescence. Not only did his father, Ray, play Major League Baseball, but so do two of his sons, Aaron and Bret.

No Fun

According to Boone, his father never pushed him to play baseball, which is probably why he succeeded at it. Likewise, he never imposed his wishes on his kids. In fact, Aaron played basketball and football, along with baseball, through high school.

“If you put too much pressure on them it’s no fun for kids to play. It becomes work,” Boone says. “Not many people succeed in life without enjoying what they’re doing.”

Some kids are so desperate to stop playing that they fake injury.

There have been cases, Micheli says, where kids complain of chronic pain even though tests reveal there’s nothing physically wrong with them. It’s easier to fake an injury than to tell a parent who has spent time and money on private lessons that the desire to play has waned.

`Honorable Way’

“They use an injury as a way out,” Micheli says. “It’s the honorable way out, so to speak.”

Hard-core sports fans might remember the cautionary tale of Todd Marinovich, whose father, a former National Football League player, drilled his son from infancy to become a quarterback. Marinovich led the University of Southern California to the 1990 Rose Bowl as a freshman. Problems surfaced soon after. The kid who never tried junk food or watched cartoons was arrested on drug charges the following season. Repeated arrests ended his brief NFL career.

“Parents aren’t protectors today,” Leman says. “They’re pushers.”

Keep pushing and don’t be surprised if one day Dr. Micheli is pulling on your child’s knee and asking where it hurts.

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.


Healthology – Jan 18, 2006 – Eric Sabo – The Power of Visualization – They had tried everything for their pain: prescription drugs, alternative remedies, even hypnosis. Nothing seemed to work. So, in a research lab in Oakland, California, a handful of volunteers agreed to be strapped under a giant brain scan as part of an elaborate experiment to train their mind to feel less pain.

“It’s like going to a gym,” explains Dr. Christopher deCharms, who led the experiment. “You need to exercise a specific muscle group.”

In this case, the small area of gray matter that controls our perceptions of pain. The volunteers in the study made use of a breakthrough device known as functional MRI, a type of telescope that can peer deep into the inner workings of the brain. Scientists continue to find new uses for the technology, with the greatest promise coming in spotting the early damage from stroke and Alzheimer’s.

The team that deCharms headed up is the first to find that MRI may have some use as a high-tech pain killer. With the proper training, long-term chronic pain sufferers were able to focus on the key source of their pain�represented on MRI scans by bright, reddish dots�and then change the perceptions of how they felt, for better or worse.

The results are published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DeCharms, who works for a private company that sells the technology, wants to manage expectations.

“This is a potentially new area,” he says. “We don’t want to hype the results.”

Indeed, the machines themselves can run several million dollars apiece, and not every hospital has access to them. MRI imaging is routinely used to help with the early treatment of stroke, where these expensive scans can be life saving.

“This is not something to do for a headache,” says deCharms.

Still, the findings add to the growing interest of using the mind to overcome pain. Recent studies suggest that meditation, and even the much maligned placebo effect, may have considerable power at naturally relieving achy joints and sore muscles. Unlike these strategies, however, deCharms says that MRI specifically pinpoints the source of trouble.

“This is not a more elaborate way to get them to feel better,” he insists.

As part of a study, 14 chronic pain sufferers were placed under the hulking machine, which has the feel of a full body X-ray. Another 36 healthy volunteers were also put through the same tests to act as a control group. The scanning lasts an hour or so. Afterwards, everyone was provided detailed snapshots of their brain.

The region that controls pain perception is known as the rostral anterior cingulate cortex. Looking at the scans, the pain sufferers were taught to focus on this area and essentially control its activity, whether it was adding to the bright colors on the MRI scan or making them fade away. They were then put through the machine again and asked to rate their perception of pain.

When the pain sufferers deliberately caused this region to light up or go darker, their perceptions of pain went up and down as well. The exercise, explains deCharms, was not a trick.

The healthy volunteers were split into four separate groups to determine if they could control their pain trough the same techniques. Those who were purposely shown the wrong images failed to alter later MRI scans, as well as influence their feelings on pain.

DeCharms says this type of mental training is a little like playing tennis. “When you mimic the moves on the court, you get better,” he says. “If you can’t visualize what’s going on in your brain, you can’t mimic the cognitive process.”

Dr. Brian Berman, who directs the complementary medicine program at the University of Maryland, calls the MRI experiments encouraging. He was not involved in the current study, but Berman and his colleagues recently found that meditation could lessen the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.

“Any way to help patients help themselves is good,” he says.

Still, the chance to hone in on the source of the problem could prove even more far reaching than a broad, mind-altering effort.

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.


Newsday – Jan 17, 2006 – John Hanc – Fitness, Heath/Science – If ever Maria Diglio needed a friend, it was on July 23, 2005.

The previous morning, Diglio, a 41-year-old attorney from Garden City, had left her two children with her ex-husband and driven upstate to Lake Placid to compete in the Ironman USA triathlon. The night before the race, she was beset by the usual doubts of anyone attempting a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2- mile run. Could she go the distance? Had she done everything she needed to? Was she crazy to even attempt this?

Lucky for her, there was someone around to quiet her anxieties: her friend and training partner, Caroline Barry from Port Washington. They had met in early 2004 while training for a shorter-distance triathlon and developed a close friendship. Barry, also a 41-year-old single, working mom, had come to Lake Placid not to race but to be Diglio’s support crew, cheerleader, confidante.

“She was such a calming influence, like a rock, steady and supportive,” Diglio recalled. “Any doubts I had, she was always there ready to encourage me.”

“I’d gone through it myself,” said Barry, a teacher’s aide who had completed her first Ironman in 2004, in Florida. “So I sort of knew what someone needed to have done for them. It was great to give back.”

On the morning of the race, Barry rose with Diglio at 4:30 a.m. and accompanied her to the start on nearby Mirror Lake. She then stayed on the course for most of the 15 hours, 20 minutes and 30 seconds it took Diglio to complete the Ironman, hooting and hollering every time her friend passed by on bike or foot. And when Diglio finished, Barry was there, as well, to offer a well-deserved hug.

“She really took care of me,” Diglio said. “As you get older, it’s hard to make friends. I just consider myself so lucky I was able to find her.”

Whether your goal is to finish a triathlon or a walk around the block, finding a friend can be a critical step in sticking with an exercise or weight loss program.

“It is absolutely necessary to have some support and motivation like this to be successful,” said psychologist Dr. Howard Rankin, author of “The TOPS Way to Weight Loss” (Hay House, 2004). That support, Rankin added, doesn’t have to come from a formal support group; small groups or individual friends can also provide it.

“Social support is a very, very powerful force,” agreed sport psychologist Dr. John Murray of Palm Beach, Fla. “There is an enormous benefit in having the teamwork, the shared goals, the positive motivation from others.”

After years of false starts in exercise, long-time friends Kim Murphy and Kris Carpenter of Vienna, Va., decided to test this theory: The two trained together with the goal of completing a half-marathon (13.1 miles) foot race in Virginia Beach.

“After finishing the half, we were so struck by the fact that we had finally succeeded at exercising consistently,” Murphy said. “We realized that if it could work for us … the concept of having a friend as the partner, … it could work for others, as well.”

So Murphy and Carpenter wrote a book, “The Best Friends Guide to Getting Fit” (Capital Books, 2005). In it, they offer no new weight loss “secrets” or “revolutionary” workout programs; rather, they assert a basic truth that, depending on your point of view toward exercise, can either be described as “misery loves company” or something slightly more ennobling.

“We believe in the power of friendship,” the women write. “Having a friend helps curb waning desires and motivation. It gives you a reason to go. The friendship seduces you into being consistent [in your training].”

It’s a sensible idea, and yet one that stands in stark contrast to the still-common notion of exercise as a hardship that must be endured alone, a solitary battle in which you wage “war” against your waistline, your sedentary habits or simply the progression of time. It’s true that some people prefer to train alone, but if you have gone the solo exercise route and failed, maybe it’s time to try with a little help from your friends. Indeed, it may change your whole attitude toward the pursuit of fitness.

“You go to your workout because you want to see your friend, have some fun and a few laughs, and you’re looking forward to having a great conversation,” Murphy said. “It nurtures your soul.”

Certainly, that’s been the case for training soul mates Diglio and Barry, who plan to compete in the 2006 Ironman triathlon. This time, however, they’re going to do it together.

“That’s what really makes it exciting,” Barry said. And, in some ways, more doable: The two are already discussing how to best maximize their time – such as bringing together their four kids and a baby-sitter while they do long training rides or runs. And on race day in July, they’ll stick close together again in Lake Placid, this time helping each other meet their long-distance fitness challenge.

“It’s not a competition with us,” Barry said. “It’s a partnership.”

How to pick the right workout buddy

Experts agree that the social support of a good training partner can increase the likelihood of reaching your exercise goals. Here are some tips on how to find the right friend for fitness:

Choose someone who is good company: “Because you will spend large chunks of time with this person, be sure it’s someone you can be completely yourself with,” say Kris Carpenter and Kim Murphy, co-authors of “The Best Friends Guide to Getting Fit” (Capital Books). “Pick someone you trust … a friend you can laugh with … a person you can rely on.”

Choose someone on the level – your level: Hooking up for a run with that friend of yours who has done 10 marathons, or weight-lifting with the buddy who can already bench-press 300 pounds may only work if you’re equally accomplished. “You have to be careful to choose someone who is at your level,” said sport psychologist Dr. John Murray of Palm Beach, Fla., “or the difference in reps, laps or time will bore the more advanced one and overwhelm the less advanced.”

Choose someone who can relate: A successful training partnership doesn’t have to be between people of the same age or station in life, but it sure helps, as Caroline Barry and Maria Diglio – local Ironman triathletes and training partners who are both 41-year-old single moms – can attest to. “A lot of our friends do the Ironman,” Barry said, “but having a friend who is in the same boat as me is really helpful. She understands.”

Choose someone close to you (in more ways than one): “The best place to look for a training partner is amongst friends who are trying to do the same thing,” said psychologist Dr. Howard Rankin. “With friends you already have the necessary bonds in place for effective communication and support.” But that closeness also means proximity – the likelihood of training consistently with a friend who lives down the block is greater than with the one who lives an hour’s drive away.

Can’t find a friend to exercise with? Visit www.exercise, a free Web service that matches up members with local people of similar fitness goals and abilities. (The Web site currently has about 10,000 members from the metropolitan area).

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.


Jan 9, 2006 – Read this first if you do not understand the MPI. It’s perhaps the best explanation. The below press release is longer and more detailed


Dr. John F. Murray, the Palm Beach sport performance psychologist known as the ‘Football Shrink’ and called the ‘Freud of Football’ by the Washington Post, will publish scores of every moment in the NFL playoffs this year on his website. He will use his trademarked ‘Mental Performance Index’ (MPI) for the fourth year in a row to rate team performances. The MPI is the first mental scoring system developed for team sports, and accurately forecast each of the past three Super Bowl games contrary to public consensus.

Palm Beach, FL — January 9, 2005 — With the NFL playoffs having finally arrived, Dr. John F. Murray, AKA “football shrink” and “Freud of Football,” (Washington Post, 2005) is taking his unique scoring system known as the “Mental Performance Index (MPI),” public this year. He is publishing MPI statistics for every NFL playoff game and the Super Bowl on his website at

The MPI is the first measure of overall performance including for mental factors developed in sports, and in this case America’s biggest sport of football.

As reported in America’s number two selling sports magazine in December, 2002, Murray developed the MPI and first began broadcasting MPI scores on his Miami radio station.

Murray, a licensed clinical and sport performance psychologist and NFL team consultant, created the MPI to help football coaches understand their team’s performances better. The MPI also demonstrates the extreme importance of mental factors in football by including in the scoring such factors as “pressure management,” “focused execution,” and “reduction of mental errors.”

In three very public tests of the accuracy of the MPI on radio and television stations worldwide, the MPI has correctly estimated the future performance of the teams in the national championship (Super Bowl XXXVII 2003, Super Bowl XXXVIII 2004, and Super Bowl XXXIX 2005), beating the spread each time, going counter to public opinion each time, and accurately forecasting the course of each game. More information is available at

In 2003 the Oakland Raiders were favored to win easily over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The MPI, however, indicated that Tampa Bay was performing at a much higher level than Oakland. This was published in over ten major newspapers and broadcast on hundreds of radio stations worldwide including Bloomberg Radio, CNN Radio, and ABC Radio. Tampa Bay easily won the game.

In 2004 and 2005, MPI analyses showed the two competing teams to be relatively equal, forecasting extremely close games both times even though the New England Patriots were predicted to win by at least 7 points in each game. Murray’s analyses were reported on an even larger number of print and broadcasting media outlets including the biggest sports radio statons in several major markets, ESPN Radio in several markets, Canadian national radio, and hundreds of programs including Bloomberg Radio for the 2nd and 3rd years in a row.

How accurate was the MPI? The 2004 game was tied with 4 seconds remaining (3 point New England win) and the 2005 game was the first game in Super Bowl history to be tied entering the final quarter of play. New England again won by 3. Former NASA rocket scientist and internet guru from MIT Dr. Cliff Kurtzman, who publishes the “Tennis Server” where Murray produced a monthly sport psychology column from 1995-2001, wrote a public congratulations letter to Dr. Murray for the “MPI’s extreme accuracy three years in a row” after last year’s game.

The MPI goes way beyond theory and journalism. Murray has actually worked with NFL teams and players, and has received many endorsements from top coaches and athletes. He will appear on national radio and television stations for the 4th year in a row to discuss his MPI findings prior to the Super Bowl. Murray has been invited for the 4th straight year on host Bob Goldsholl’s “Bloomberg on the Ball.”

Beginning today, MPI scores will be available after every playoff weekend on Murray’s website at Murray will provide all the primary MPI scores including a total score, scores for offense, defense and special teams, pressure scores for offense and defense, and a total pressure score. Murray enters data into a computer program as he is watching and rating every play of every game in the playoffs.

Readers can await Murray’s detailed interpretation on the website and radio programs before the Super Bowl, or draw their own conclusions from the weekly statistics he provides.

“The purpose of the MPI is to demonstrate how important the mental game is to any performance situation, and especially a team sport like football,” said Murray. “Coaches and players routinely claim that the mental game accounts for anywhere from 50% to 95% of performance and ultimate outcome, but then spend less than 2% of their training on mental skills,” said Murray. “This is probably because there are so few authentic sport psychologists and many old school coaches who are not comfortable changing.”

“Since the MPI has been so accurate three years in a row on the biggest sports stage in America, I think people are finally waking up. Innovative coaches like Nick Saban of the Miami Dolphins, for example, already tell their teams how important it is to stay in the moment and just perform your absolute best on one play and in the moment at hand. This is more than cliche. It is precisely what the MPI measures, performance in the moment, with a logical rating system that includes for mental factors and has been refined over time.”

Dr. Murray is available for interviews. MPI scores and analysis will be provided on the Monday following games at

Contact Information:

John F. Murray, Ph.D.
340 Royal Poinciana Way Suite 339 J
Palm Beach, FL 33480
Tel: 561-596-9898
Fax: 561-805-8662
Email: e-mail protected from spam bots

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.

Jan 8, 2006 – Dr. Murray is interviewed by Paul Myers of Radio France about Sport Psychology, Reslience, and the Martina Hingis Comeback.

To Hear it Just Click Here. Let it load (about 1-2 minutes with DSL) and then forward ahead to 19:25 in the program.

If this will not work, follow these instructions and get it off the rfi website directly by clicking here when ready. At the Radio France website, (1) Choose English language at the top, (2) Scroll down on the right to a “Listen” link for time 14h-15h GMT, (3) Select Real Player or Windows Media Player to listen, (4) When the broadcast begins, fast forward to 19:25 for “Sports Insight.” The interview topic is Martina Hingis, sport psychology and resilience. Enjoy!

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.


Happy Herald – Jan 6, 2006 – Sports Matters Column – By John F. Murray – From his office in Palm Beach, Murray provides both counseling and
performance enhancement services to athletes and executives. He is
author of the best-selling “Smart Tennisâ€Â? and a frequent speaker.
Please inquire at: 561-596-9898 or
Dr. Murray’s website is at:

Pro golfer Brad Faxon said “twenty years ago if you were working with a sport psychologist they said you were crazy, but today if you’re not working with one you’re crazy.â€Â? Let’s look a little closer.

The textbook definition of sport psychology is: (a) the study of the psychological and mental factors that influence and are influenced by participation and performance in sport, exercise, and physical activity, and (b) the application of the knowledge gained through this study to everyday settings.

Famous philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer stated that each new truth in history passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. And third, it is accepted as self-evident. As Brad Faxon’s reflection illustrates, sport psychology has teed off into Schopenhauer’s third phase. While the word “psychologyâ€Â? used to indicate mental illness, it now reflects success with high performers. Athletes and executives use sport psychology to a competitive advantage. Let’s see some examples.

A pro golfer called me after repeatedly forfeiting leads in the homestretch. We altered his perception of pressure and pre-shot routine. He became one of the better clutch players on the PGA tour!
Tennis pro Vince Spadea hired me after his record 21-match losing streak. After implementing a program of mental coaching, he rose from no. 250 to no. 18 and won his first ATP Tour tournament in Scottsdale last year, beating Andy Roddick and James Blake along the way!

Alex Rodriguez, the highest paid baseball player whose father abandoned his family when he was 9, called therapy, incredible thing that helped me discover a different life.He donated $200,000 to fund mental health programs for children.

The age of sport psychology has dawned. This column will hopefully inspire you with stories, insights, and lessons from an abundant resource!

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.


Dec 29, 2005 – Click Here to See the Jan./Feb. 2006 Article in Tennis Week on Dr. John F. Murray’s Mental Training Auction

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.


Dec 22, 2005 – One of Dr. Murray’s favorite clients, New York pro bowler Tommy Delutz Jr., notifies us today that he has launched his official website. It is of the highest technical sophistication and offers sections on the pro tour, his hobby of comedy, photos of friends including world class comedians and pro baseball players, a calander of his events, a message board and links.

The striking design of his site (pun intended) shows Tommy knocking down all the pins in real time and ideal form. The sport of bowling needs more colorful characters like Tommy, and he’s working vigoroulsy to achieve the higest level possible in his comeback from major wrist surgery. See him in the not so distant future on ESPN. Go Tommy, and thanks for publicly supporting the importance of the mental game in your great sport!

Dr. John F. Murray is a sports psychologist and clinical psychologist providing sports psychology and counseling services based in Palm Beach, Florida.


Tennis Week – Dec 21, 2005 – Richard Pagliaro – He may be the only man in tennis to party with John McEnroe, double date with Andy Roddick, question James Blake’s sportsmanship, spend a wild weekend in Vegas with Andre Agassi and bounce back from a record 21-match losing streak to produce the best tennis of his life. Vince Spadea has endured more highs and lows than a limbo contest between Ivo Karlovic and Mini Me.

He has played with and against the top players of the past decade â€â€? both on and off the court â€â€? and now the 31-year-old Spadea is your tour guide on a behind-the-scenes trip detailing life on the ATP Tour that he calls “a roller coaster ride.”

The veteran Spadea has collaborated with Tennis Week contributing writer and noted New York teaching pro Dan Markowitz (Tennis message board readers know him by the pseudonym Redhead) to write a behind-the-scenes look at life on the ATP Tour. Titled “Break Point: The Secret Diary Of A Pro Tennis Player”, the book will be released in either the spring or early summer of 2006. It’s a glimpse of life outside the lines featuring the competitors, coaches, characters and committed groupies populating the tennis landscape.

“My own intention, was to tell the truth and be brutally honest and show who I am,” Spadea says. “It’s a hard, tough life being a professional tennis player. I’ve met a lot of great players and great people. I’m telling you these stories through my eyes as a real guy who has lived this. You just don’t know how it will be received. Hopefully, it’s going to be a great thing for tennis and kind of transcend the tennis world and not just be what it’s like to be a tennis player, but show the story of an interesting character who can tell a story truthfully, win tennis matches, lose tennis matches and bleed just the way you bleed.”

The strong-willed Spadea has spent his career saying, rapping and achieving the unthinkable. Rebounding from a record 21-match losing streak that saw his 2000 year-end ranking plummet to No. 229, Spadea made a strong comeback. In 2004, Spadea claimed his first ATP title in his 223rd career tournament in Scottsdale, posted a personal best 40-win season and concluded the season ranked a year-end best No. 19.

Currently ranked No. 76, Spadea is now working with former Wimbledon winner and Beverly Hills Hotel teaching pro Alex Olmedo in training for the 2006 season.

Spadea and Markowitz, who have known each other for years, came up with the concept of collaborating on a diary-style, behind-the-scenes book shortly after discussing the idea of writing a book during the 2004 U.S. Open. The book chronicles Spadea’s experiences living life on the ATP Tour and provides readers with an all-access pass to the court, the locker room, practice sessions and player parties.

“It does something never done by any tennis book that I’ve ever read: It depicts the modern professional player dealing with all the aspects of life on the circuit: winning and losing, training, hiring and firing coaches, traveling around the world, women, tennis parents, locker room humor, umpires, and steroids,” Markowitz says. “But more than anything else, it deals with the personalities in the game as seen through Spadea’s eyes, a somewhat recluse on the tour, who closely evaluates the games and psyches of his fellow players. In 13 years on the tour, he’s played them all and intimately knows his competitor’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Some of the most intriguing anecdotal incidents the book details, according to its authors, include:

James Blake â€â€? Spadea, who has won seven of 10 meetings with Blake, recalls one clash with his rival in which Blake took time during a changeover to accuse Spadea of resorting to gamesmanship in trying to break his momentum by taking a bathroom break. Spadea, who has scored five straight wins over the Yonkers, N.Y. native, blasts Blake as a “bad sport” after the match. In another Blake-related anecdote that intensified the tension between the two, Spadea details the former Harvard all American stealing away a model Spadea brought to a players’ party while Spadea visited the bathroom.

Andy Roddick â€â€? Spadea explains why he believes Roddick’s game has declined a bit since the former No. 1 split with Brad Gilbert. Spadea also recounts the time he and Roddick squired two models to late-night clubs in Australia and how the models responded when Roddick offered to fly them back to South Florida.

Andre Agassi � Spadea details how it feels to step on the court against the eight-time Grand Slam champion and recalls the wild weekend he spent with Agassi in Vegas when he was just an 18-year-old practice partner and Agassi was training for his comeback.

John McEnroe â€â€? Spadea takes readers inside a memorable practice session with the Hall of Famer on the red clay of New York City’s Tennisport and, in another humorous anecdote, remembers attending a Los Angeles party along with McEnroe, Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler and Pamela Anderson, in which McEnroe introduced Spadea to fellow party goers by simply saying: “This is the guy who tanked at Wimbledon.” McEnroe selected Spadea to play against Spain in the Davis Cup semifinals in Santander, Spain in what proved to be McEnroe’s final tie as U.S. Davis Cup captain before younger brother Patrick succeeded him. Spadea’s public debate with Patrick McEnroe over the captain initially by-passing him for a spot on the squad that played Spain in the 2004 Davis Cup final is also explored in the book.

Pete Sampras â€â€? Spadea, who trained with Sampras’ former coach Pete Fischer and beat Sampras in their last meeting, details the qualities that make Sampras one of the greatest player in the history of the game as well as how Sampras enjoyed telling risque jokes.

Rafael Nadal â€â€? Spadea, who has split two career matches with the reigning Roland Garros champion, says he will be surprised if Nadal matches Jim Courier’s feat of winning four Grand Slam titles.

Brad Gilbert â€â€? The book illustrates why Gilbert was one of the most acerbic players in the game, but became one of tennis’ top coaches.
Women â€â€? Who are the biggest womanizers on the ATP Tour? Who are the Tour’s the biggest dogs? And what are the drawbacks to engaging female groupies? Spadea offers answers.

“I give you my honest opinions. It’s always interesting to be out there and wonder and now this book makes you wonder less and makes you feel like you’ve been on the tour for years,” Spadea says. “In a sense, it’s like a handbook of what it’s like to be a pro tennis player.

It makes you laugh and makes you sit and think and sometimes maybe even makes you sad. That’s a great mix, that’s what life on tour is about and that was my goal to give readers. So make sure you get eight hours of sleep before you read it because it is exciting. I guarantee you’ll laugh out loud, you’ll think a bit and you will definitely come away with some stories you will always remember.”

Spadea took time out from a recent practice session in Los Angeles to sit down with Tennis Week and talk about his book in this interview.

Tennis Week: Vince, how did this book originate?

Vince Spadea: I started in October of 2004. Basically, Dan and I have known each other from the past and from seeing each other at tournaments. We had an interview during the 2004 U.S. Open and Dan told me: “I think you have a good story. You’re an interesting character, you’ve had a great comeback with big wins and crazy losses and you do the rapping and writing. Let’s see if we can do a book?” If somebody just walks up to you and says “Hey, you want to write book?” How many people are going to say no? I was excited to do it and I feel we have a good story to tell people about what it’s like being a tennis player.

Tennis Week: What do you think distinguishes this book and what elements will appeal to tennis fans?

Vince Spadea: I think it’s a novel book because it’s a guy who is still in the middle of the mix talking very openly about life on the tour and that’s something that’s never really been done in the sport of tennis before.

Tennis Week: What was the concept going into the project?

Vince Spadea: The idea was to establish who I am and what it’s like to live the life of a tennis pro. By background, we establish who I am and what’s happened so far in my life and career. We used diary form because I’d already done online diaries for newspapers and web sites before. So I had explored that niche, it seemed to work for me and I had gotten some good feedback from some of my past articles. Dan is an experienced writer who is very good at picking out the most interesting stuff I’ve written. Basically, you’re walking through life on the tour with Vince Spadea when you read this book. It starts with the reader getting on the roller coaster ride that is the tour with me, you’re sitting right next to me, we put down the safety bar and then the ride starts.

Tennis Week: In writing the book, did you learn anything about yourself or about professional tennis that surprised you?

Vince Spadea: Writing the book helped me think through a lot of things and sort of reflect on what I’m trying to accomplish in my life and career, on what I see, what I’m feeling and what my opinions really are. It’s the world of tennis seen through Vince Spadea’s eyes. Writing is always sort of a reflective hobby and basically an action that can tell you some things about yourself because you write what has been going through your head whether that is good, bad or indifferent. Honesty is the most important thing when it comes to writing a diary and I was very honest in my writing. Pretty much, I was writing masses and masses of email to him. I would just think about something to write about and I wrote it on a PDA and sometimes on a lap top. Writing on a PDA helped me because anytime a thought or idea popped in my head I could immediately start writing it. Sometimes, the hardest thing about writing is starting to write: you get sort of cramped up and it’s hard to get the ball rolling. But once you actually start writing, I found I could really get going and write about everything from the profound factors of life as a tennis player to just simple commentary about the game or players.

Tennis Week: Are there any revelations or anecdotes in the book that may surprise tennis fans or fellow players?

Vince Spadea: I think I have used a lot of metaphors that really bring tennis to life â€â€? both my own life and other people’s lives. Whether it is an anecdote about a tennis match, or an off-court situation or a confrontation with another individual or player or a kinship that develops through tennis. Some parts of the book are about the every day lifestyle of a professional tennis player, some are comments about players, situations and tournaments and there’s also just locker-room banter and comical anecdotes. When you put it all together, it kind of takes the reader on this ride through the tour and it all flows. I’ve really put my heart and effort and soul into the writing of this book and thinking it through. I think if I wasn’t playing tennis I could have taken it to the further level as I had to try to multi-task in doing a lot. But I can tell you I gave everything I had: emotionally, insightfully, truthfully to the book and I think people who read it will see that.

Tennis Week: Was the actual writing process cathartic for you at any point?

Vince Spadea: At times, I was writing and I’d get really sentimental and I would get emotional or I would be writing and just cracking up at other times. So I would try to work off those emotions when they came. Writing is such a great art so you can be very specific when you write or you can be a little more abstract and play with the words. The McEnroe excerpt you’ve seen is an example where I tried to throw in a little bit of the daily life with the girl and then write about practicing with McEnroe and tell the readers what does McEnroe really look like when he shows up for practice, what does he say to you when you practice with him, what does he really play like now. So it’s anecdotal, it’s informative, it’s comic and you have a vague possible romance and try to bring all the elements together than compel the human soul. So reading the book, you experience the comic moments, the serious side, the triumph, the low points. Life on the tour is in essence a roller coaster ride whether you’re the young prodigy who made $20 million already or the established veteran, tennis takes its dips and makes its peak. I think the greatest theme of the book is the human connection and the way we think and feel and we can all relate to that on some level.

Tennis Week: When you write about other players whether it’s Agassi, Roddick, Blake or Fish, were you conscious of of the fact that if you write something too revealing or too critical you might then have to face these guys in a future match or did you just decide to let it fly and write the truth as you see it?

Vince Spadea: At first we let it fly and you paint the room as bright as possible and then you can adjust as you edit the book. We’ve adjusted in editing mainly when the material might have been too mundane or too boring or if it didn’t go anywhere. So in those cases you edit it. I think the truth is something that people will always respect so even if it might strain something if it is the truth you don’t change it or omit it. I’m not here to shock the world, but at the same time I think there will be a few eye-opening stories in this book. Controversy is something people make out of the slightest mishap that can occur. Basically, if it is not a motivating, self-help book, then it’s going to be controversial when you are truthful because human beings have both goodness and darkness.

Tennis Week: So is it fair to say it is an honest look at life on the ATP Tour, but you’re not trying to pull a Jose Canseco and expose anyone or any particular issue as Canseco did with the steroid scandal in baseball?

Vince Spadea: I wouldn’t say it is a Canseco type of book. I don’t think there is one profanity in the entire book, but that’s my personality: I don’t usually use profanity. I just feel like in general I was pretty candid about myself and I’m willing to put myself â€â€? in all the aspects â€â€? right there in the open in a very honest way. So when I walk down the street people who read the book will know what color boxer shorts I wear, they can probably predict what I am thinking or feeling right now because they know the way I think and feel from my writing.

Tennis Week: Vince, is exposing yourself to that extent a little scary? I mean, there are things I’ve done that I’m not proud of and certainly wouldn’t even want to tell one person let alone tell a large audience in a book. Was it scary to be that open?

Vince Spadea: Exposing yourself it is a little scary. Sometimes, I’d find myself thinking as I wrote: “Gosh, I wonder what my mom will think about this? I wonder what my friends will think about this.” So yes, it can be scary. There’s always a couple of things you hold onto, but this book doesn’t pull many punches at all. Obviously, I want to have a good influence and a good impact an set a good example, but the truth and just being real is the important thing and in being truthful you know you can’t make everyone in the world happy.

Tennis Week: A lot of times people see the glamour and successful side of tennis while watching tournament victories. Some of the things people don’t see is the grind of traveling the tour, the loneliness, the dealing with the pain and rejection of losing on a weekly basis and just how that life can complicate relationships and shatter self confidence. What is one of the most important things readers will learn about the life of a tennis pro from this book?

Vince Spadea: Definitely, it is a tough, challenging lifestyle. It’s hard to make friends and keep friends and stay balanced in your life. I’d say one of the things the book shows is just the fact that the winning and losing dictates so much of your life: in how you are feeling after the match and the next day and even how you treat people. The winning and losing definitely dictates so much of how you feel and what you do in the rest of your life. So you do see the somberness of it all and there’s one morbid entry where I was feeling sort of hopeless and without any direction at all. Then there’s other times when I was excited about the simplest thing and a lot of that emotion has to do with whether I was winning or losing while I was writing that part. So you get a feeling of how tennis players feel and think, what goes through their heads and how that mental part of it is a big challenge and a big aspect of this crazy life we lead.

Tennis Week: Vince, when you read and listen to the things people write and say about you there’s quite a range. Some people think of you as a grinder, as a veteran, as a rapper as a competitor, as a player with a comic side or as a quirky kind of character. This book is your opportunity to sort of let people see the real you. Were there any misconceptions you sought to straighten out about yourself in this book?

Vince Spadea: The fact that some people might have found me to be enigmatic and maybe some journalists may not totally know where I’m coming from, this kind of settled that score and I revealed who I really am. So by sharing who I really am then you get a chance to really like me or not. I’m trying to show the world who I am and what I am about and what I’ve learned and what inspires me and do it in a real truthful, authentic way and not through a journalist’s perspective or an indirect perspective, but directly from me.

Tennis Week: I’ve only read the one excerpt from the book that we posted on the web site, but I’m told you are very honest in the book. Not that you vilify other players, but you are revealing in talking about other players. Are you concerned this book might add fuel to the competitive fire of opponents since you will have to face some of these guys after the book comes out and did the potential response from your fellow players inhibit anything you wrote about? Have you received any input or response from fellow players?

Vince Spadea: It’s in the early stages and people are just starting to get to know it. As the months go on it will gain a little bit more momentum and I know I’ll get more feedback. Life is competitive and life is great and life is unfair at times. When you come out with a book like this you are not really sure how people will react. I can tell you that the best thing in everyone’s interest, and my own intention, was to tell the truth and be brutally honest and show who I am. I’m not out there to make enemies. It’s a hard, tough life being a professional tennis player. I’ve met a lot of great players and great people. I’m telling you these stories through my eyes as a real guy who has lived this. You just don’t know how it will be received. Hopefully, it’s going to be a great thing for tennis and kind of transcend the tennis world and not just be what it’s like to be a tennis player, but show the story of an interesting character who can tell a story truthfully, win tennis matches, lose tennis matches and bleed just the way you bleed. I try to write about lessons I’ve learned and do it with humor and intelligence and not just tell you what it’s like to face Agassi’s backhand. The book is more substantial and deeper than that. At the same time, it’s not War and Peace â€â€? it’s just war (laughs). It all blends together really well and there’s always gonna be some positive and negatives, but I can’t afford to care too much so in that sense it is like a stand-up comedian: three quarters of the room can be laughing really hard and the others don’t get it, but that’s the nature of it.

Tennis Week: Looking back on the Davis Cup issue you and Patrick McEnroe had, I’ve spoken to both you and Patrick about that since it happened and have always felt there was a little more to that story then either of you revealed at the time. Do you write about the Davis Cup debate you had with Patrick in this book?

Vince Spadea: I go into some of the Davis Cup issues with Pat McEnroe. I just felt like there were certain things that needed to be out there and what it really was and is and how everything transpired. I give you my honest opinions. It’s like always interesting to be out there and wonder and now this book makes you wonder less and makes you feel like you’ve been on the tour for years. In a sense, it’s like a handbook of what it’s like to be a pro tennis player. It makes you laugh and makes you sit and think and sometimes maybe even makes you sad. That’s a great mix, that’s what life on tour is about and that was my goal to give readers. So make sure you get eight hours of sleep before you read it because it is exciting. I guarantee you’ll laugh out loud, you’ll think a bit and you will definitely come away with some stories you will always remember.