Archive for the ‘News & Events’ Category

For Immediate Release

Miami Hurricanes Publication Adds Sports Psychology Column for 2011 Football Season that will Highlight Team’s Physical and Mental Performance Each Week

Miami, FL – August 9, 2011 – America’s foremost authority on Miami Hurricane Sports, the 20-year-old publication known as “Canesport,” recently brought Palm Beach sports psychologist Dr. John F Murray aboard to write a weekly column on Hurricane football throughout the 2011 season. For the first time in the history of a sports column, the “mental performance” of a team will be carefully evaluated and quantified throughout a season. The column will aim to be friendly, easy to read, and uniquely informative. However, Murray also explains that he wants Canesport readers to be the smartest and most well informed football fans in the country.

Murray’s new column will be derived from his own quantitative analysis of every meaningful play in every Hurricanes game, giving readers insight that is not available elsewhere. This is the same approach that Dr. Murray used in reporting on all 45 Super Bowls in his new book, “The Mental Performance Index, Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History,” (World Audience, Inc., www.JohnFMurray.com). The big finding in the book is that, the new MPI statistic correlates with winning and performance in the Super Bowl more than any other traditional team performance statistic. The message for coaches and teams is to begin measuring team mental performance, and also training players in these areas to stay ahead.

This book is the culmination of eight years of research and introduces a new statistic, the MPI, that captures team performance more accurately than before possible because it includes mental performance as well. “This new column that will appear after every football game in Canesport (www.canesport.com) is both cutting edge and groundbreaking,” said Murray. “It will appeal to the diehard fan who thirsts for more information about the Canes, and it will help inform everyone in football.”

Dr. Murray, once dubbed “the Freud of Football” by the Washington Post, works with elite athletes and teams in his private practice. Tom Flores, two-time Super Bowl winning head coach of the Oakland and LA Raiders, writes in the foreword: “Dr. Murray’s Mental Performance Index can be and will be the next part of sports evolution in the 21st Century.”

Pro football hall of fame sportscaster Lesley Visser also supports the MPI, and Visser writes the epilogue on the genius of Bill Walsh. Don Shula also provided a quote for the book from his coaching days.

For Further Information or interviews:

John F Murray, PhD
Telephone: 561-596-9898
Web: http://www.JohnFMurray.com

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Dimension XI: How NFL Films Helped “The Mental Performance Index”

When I wrote “The Mental Performance Index” I thought about which were the most influential media outlets covering football and the NFL. Naturally NFL Films and all their great work came to mind.

In fact, NFL Films and Steve Sabol’s show “NFL Films Present” had come to my office a year before and featured me in an episode on “Love, Hate & Grief in the NFL” that aired 7 times on the NFL Network and ESPN2 in November of 2009. As a kid, I also used to enjoy their programming when Ed Sabol was at the helm, and the show only had gotten better with Steve Sabol, his son, in charge as President of NFL Films.

Since they had been in my office not too many months before the book was to be released, I contacted Steve Sabol and he graciously agreed to provide me the following quote for the book cover:

“This is a fascinating work of remarkable scope and scholarship. Dr. Murray has devised a valid new way to measure and predict greatness in the game of football.” STEVE SABOL, PRESIDENT, NFL FILMS

I can only assume that Mr. Sabol liked the manuscript by his very nice comments, but it probably also did not hurt that he knew me from the episode I shot for NFL Films Presents. Remember, the next time you are asked to do an interview and you agree, your actions now will possibly help you in the future!

Today I proudly display the quote from NFL Films on my new book “The Mental Performance Index.” I am so excited that an award winning production company has gotten behind my efforts and supported me on this book. Thanks Steve Sabol and the entire staff at NFL Films!

I know you will enjoy reading “The Mental Performance Index.” Thanks for your interest in Sports Psychology

Dimension X: Don Shula’s Role in “The Mental Performance Index”

When I wrote “The Mental Performance Index” I wanted the reader to know a little about how I came up with the idea of an index of perfection, or one single number that represented how well a football team had performed in a game. While I had never personally met Don Shula, his influence, as I explain in the book, was immense. As a 9 year old kid, I became a student of his comments in press conferences, radio and television, and his “perfect season” gave me the idea of measuring how closely a team had come to reaching perfection.

Fast forward to the year 2011. The book was about to be published and I had already secured a great forward writer in Tom Flores. I also considered Don Shula for this honor, but he was away on vacation and the book was due out. Flores kindly accepted before I ever heard back from Shula, and I immediately accepted his generosity. Flores is such a Super Bowl success (4-0 in the big game) and he is a fine gentleman too.

However, being in South Florida and having written so much about Don Shula and his wisdom, I still wanted to get a quote from him for the book. Through the assistance of ex-Dolphin star Jim Jensen, who had already endorsed the book, Don Shula graciously allowed me to use an actual quote taken from Jensen’s days as a player. Jensen had allowed me to borrow his Dolphins notebooks for a week, and Shula put his stamp of approval on the following for “The Mental Performance Index.”

“You’ve got to continually eliminate errors and take pride in not making mental and physical mistakes. It takes extra work, extra thoughts, and extra practice to get it all done. It just doesn’t happen on Sunday. You have to make up your minds to get it done and make up your minds to win.” DON SHULA

I am thrilled that Shula respects what am doing enough in “The Mental Performance Index” to put his own stamp of approval and name on it with a terrific quote that mirrors what I write about and tell athletes to do in my work. Why is that surprising? I learned a lot of it from Shula! Since Shula and Flores were involved in about 1/3 of all Super Bowls played, and epilogue writer Lesley Visser worked in broadcasting many more of them, we’ve about got the entire history of Super Bowls represented between my support team of Flores, Shula and Visser, not to mention the great quotes from Jim Jensen, Steve Sabol of NFL Films, placekicker Nick Lowery, coach Doug Blevins, receiver Dan Johnson and publisher Jim Martz! I could not be more thrilled with the good and highly intelligent and Super Bowl savvy people behind the new book “The Mental Performance Index” and I know you will love reading it!

I hope you enjoyed this journey into the world of sports psychology.

Dimension IX: Inspiration to Become a Sports Psychologist

When I wrote “The Mental Performance Index: Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History” I wanted to make it much more than a “self-help” or “how to” book for football coaches and teams. It can serve that purpose, but it is far more than that too, and the first 100 pages or so are very much like an auto-biography in which I tell my own story.

I write about my upbringing in South Florida in the 60s and 70s, and about my exposure to greatness as a fan through the excitement of the Miami Dolphins Perfect Season in 1972 and then later as a coach and sports psychologist. Good things just kept happening all around me and I became extremely interested in learning more about what makes a team a champion.

As a tennis coach traveling all around the world from Hawaii to Florida, Germany to the Middle East, Austria to Texas, I became fascinated by how critically important the mental game was in sports, yet how few resources existed to help others in this area. It was not surprising that the book Inner Game of Tennis was a worldwide hit in 1974 … we were starving internally and have only in recent years begun to really adopt an inner approach to training and preparation for high level competition.

You will enjoy the many anecdotes in this book “The Mental Performance Index,” such as the time I coached the current King of Saudi Arabia tennis lessons in Riyadh, relied on the advice of a legless and dying man to help an NFL quarterback bounce back from his struggles, and studied the loneliness of Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria during a trip to Neuschwanstein Castle to crystalize my understanding of some NFL coaches and leaders in major corporations.

I hope you enjoyed this little trip down the avenue of sports psychology.

Dimension VIII: Why Bill Walsh was so Great as 49ers Head Coach

When I wrote “The Mental Performance Index: Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History,” I knew that Bill Walsh and the San Francisco 49ers were good, but I did not know how good until I crunched all the data and ranked the teams from 1-90. It would turn out that the 49ers teams own 3 of the top 6 spots of all time in terms of performance on Super Sunday. Much of this was the doing of the late great coach Bill Walsh.

I met and befriended Lesley Visser as I was getting ready to go over to Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympic games. We shared a common interest in tennis and football, and she was very excited about my upcoming book and offered to write the epilogue. She wanted to write it about Bill Walsh, whom she had known from her many NFL broadcasts, and I was thrilled. She did a terrific job and you can now read about what made this man so enormously successful as a coach.

For example, you will read that while Walsh projected an image as the intellectual professor, and did not like to yell at his players, he was anything but soft. In fact, he was an amateur boxer and he liked to study the intricate moves of Mohammed Ali, and he used the principles he learned from boxing (like coaching his team’s offensive and defensive lines to always explode off the ball faster than the opponent) to make his team better.

Lesley Visser is the only female in the pro football Hall of Fame, and she has a resume as a broadcaster that is too long for this page. I know you will love her epilogue and learn more about the genius and ferocity of Walsh when you read “The Mental Performance Index: Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History.”

I hope you enjoyed learning more about this book focused on sports psychology.

Dimension VII: Daily Lessons Learned from Super Bowls

I am the author of ““The Mental Performance Index: Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History”“and you might be surprised to learn that this book is not only about football and sports psychology.

When I wrote this book, I wanted to do something similar to what I did in my first book “Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game,” and that is to give the reader something to take home and use to better their life.

The NFL Super Bowl is perhaps the most competitive game played every year and it is played on the biggest stage of all with billions of viewers from all over the world. Talk about pressure! I figured that if I could dissect what the keys to success in each one of these games were, I would then be able to provide people all over the world my findings so that they could improve their lives by reading the book and learning from the success principle that was taught on the natural stage of Super Bowl Sunday.

In this new book you will see these 45 lessons for success appear in the text and then again all together in a useful list for the reader at the end of the book. Learn from the biggest competitive arenas the world has known and apply these 45 lessons to your own self improvement.

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the world of sports psychology.

Dimension VI: The Best Super Bowl Teams Ever

I am the author of ““The Mental Performance Index: Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History”” which, like the title implies, uses a systematic approach to determine which teams were best.

It was only after standardizing performance ratings in a football game with the Mental Performance Index statistic (MPI for short) that we were able to compare how teams had performed even when they were over 40 years apart. Using a play rating system that is fair and balanced, the MPI total score indicates how closely a given team came to perfection in a game in a similar manner that a baseball batting average shows how close a batter came to perfection on a scale of .000 to 1.000. In the case of football team performance, however, .500 is roughly average performance.

There were a total of 14 MPI statistics created and 14 more traditional statistics were analyzed in the book, so we looked at a total of 28 ways of determining how good a team was, and team rankings for all 28 statistics are presented in this book. Of course everyone wants to know which team was best overall, and that is shown in the MPI Total score (MPI-T) rankings in which the top 32 performing teams on Super Bowl Sunday are listed.

Read this book and let the debates begin over which team was best!

I hope you enjoyed this brief glimpse into the world of sports psychology.

The “Tough Guys Talk” Initiative

Sports Psychology Excerpts – from pages 54-55 of the book “The Mental Performance Index: Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History” by John F Murray (World Audience, 2011):

Stephan and I had often discussed the misconception about talking to a psychologist or counselor that seemed to exist in our society, and especially in some of the more powerful quarters. It needed to change. The supposedly tough types that we often saw in business and pro sports, like the CEOs, NBA stars, or head NFL coaches had somehow learned to associate “toughness” with grueling schedules, physical pain tolerance and the hesitancy to open up about problems or seek counseling. But once they did open up it was clear that this repression had exacted a toll and they were filled with more needs than most. Examined closer, it just jumps out at you that what is really going on when an athletic or business culture fails to encourage help seeking, or when anyone avoids dealing with a serious issue, it is anything but “tough” and more accurately quite “weak!” Not meeting issues head on is actually rooted in deep fear and insecurity.

One example that was recently brought to my attention was when NFL hall of fame quarterback Warren Moon wrote a book in which he admitted that he was seeing a therapist for many years and sneaking in the back door of his therapist’s office at night so that nobody would notice he was seeking help. Pro football hall of famer, Lesley Visser, who writes a beautiful epilogue in this book, called to tell me the news of Warren Moon’s admission. I thanked her and told her that I would make sure to convey the message in this book that the toughest among us are those who when faced with problems and are not afraid to seek help, and I called it “tough guys talk.” Warren Moon should be proud that he faced his issues, but societal pressure made it harder for him to share the benefits he was receiving with others until now.

I have a solution, and it starts with every top executive in major sports as a campaign to encourage star athletes to face problems head-on and talk with a counselor or sport psychologist when needed. Every senior executive and coach or manager in the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL should institute a program and call it: “Tough Guys Talk” with a poster and just these words on top in bright bold lettering. It should be posted in every locker room listing some of the great players who won national championships while talking with a sports psychologist or counselor. The list would be most impressive because some great athletes do seek help but then don’t talk about it because of the stigma that they will appear weak. Hogwash! These leaders would in one fell swoop begin to eradicate idiocy and allow more players to access care and be tough by talking rather than running like little children in fear of being ostracized.

The program I propose would start with just one team’s GM. And since I am related to one of the greatest ever and feel that he can have an enormous impact like none other, I personally and cheerfully challenge Cousin Bill Polian to institute a “Tough Guys Talk” program with the Colts. When Mr. Polian or another top executive in sports does this he will establish himself even more as a visionary who cared enough for his people to allow them to develop and improve.

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from Sports Psychology.

Brandon Marshall Admits he has Personality Disorder

Sports Psychology Update – John F Murray – Great Job Brandon Marshall of the Miami Dolphins! More people need to see mental illness for what it is. It is real, and it is more difficult than a broken leg.

Here is the story in ESPN

Hope you enjoyed that little message form the world of sports psychology.

What it Took to Become a Sports Psychologist

Sports Psychology Commentary – John F. Murray – July 31, 2011 – Hello everyone. I get a lot of students contacting me every year about the profession and science of sports psychology, and I try to get back to them all. Often they will ask me what school to go to or what the requirements are to become a sports psychologist, and it is this latter question that I will try to answer as briefly as possible here. I also recently posted this kind of message in an amazon.com discussion forum on the topic as I was promoting my two sports psychology books “Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game” and “The Mental Performance Index: Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History.”

Back in the 1980s I was a tennis pro and was coaching the sport worldwide. In around the mid-1980s we started putting on mental training sessions for our tennis clientele, and sports psychology to me then was what was contained in books such as the Inner Game of Tennis, Flow, and books for specific mental training in particular sports. I was fascinated by the subject, and with a bachelors degree in psychology I decided to go back to graduate school and become a sports psychologist. I left a great career in tennis when I returned to America in 1990 and enrolled at the University of Florida Department of Exercise and Sports Sciences in the Spring of 1991 to become a sports psychologist.

As I got into their great program there, and played tennis almost daily with the department chair Bob Singer, I quickly learned that if I was going to realize my dreams of becoming a practicing sports psychologist, I would need to also first become a licensed psychologist. The exercise science folks were great academically, but there was simply no training model in place to train sports psychologists within academic sports science programs. By contrast, psychology had been doing it for 50 plus years.

So after a masters degree specializing in sports psychology, I enrolled in the Fall of 1992 at the University of Florida’s Department of Clinical and Health Psychology. They were also excellent and they were able to provide me not only the overall background I needed in psychology to understand, assess, and treat problems clinically, but the only way you are going to become any kind of practicing psychologist (I wanted to do it rather than research it) then and today is by getting a state license, and that requires graduation from a psychology doctoral program. Thankfully, they allowed me to continue to pursue my passion for sports psychology, and I conducted my PhD dissertation on the football team that won the national title in 1996.

The following year I went on internship, and was able to secure the only APA approved internship in the country that had a full year rotation in applied sports psychology at Washington State University. I came back after that year, defended my dissertation, and then realized that in order to become a sports psychologist (or any kind of psychologist) there was still a requirement to complete 2000 hours of supervised clinical work after the PhD. So I secured a postdoctoral fellowship at Florida International University and after 14 months had the required hours, sat for the licensing exam and passed it, and became an officially licensed psychologist (and sports psychologist too since my academic and practical training was also in that area).

If you are exhausted having read all that, imagine how I felt in this pursuit from 1991 to 1999! The clear reality is that there is a way to become a legitimate sports psychologist. I have done it. But it takes almost forever. Why should this be surprising? To be able to best understand human beings, it makes sense to study human beings (and not just athletes). To know athletes it also makes sense to study athletes, sports sciences, and all those good things. Elite athletes have worked their entire lives to be able to play a sport, so it makes sense that we sports psychologists have to grind too … at least our athlete clients will respect us better as we know the value of sacrifice and dedication the way they do to get to the top.

While there is room for everyone to help athletes in some way or another, the truth is that becoming a sports psychologist is a daunting proposition that requires years of hard work, financial delays, luck, and creativity. I stayed with it because I was extremely passionate, and I am glad I did. But if you miss either the sports science side of the equation or the psychology side, you are missing too much, and you are not really going to be fully qualified as a sports psychologist.

It is true that the bare minimum to use the title in most every state is a psychology license to practice, and that is the hardest part to acquire because you have to go through a formal psychology program which takes 5 years overall at a minimum and requires a very high score on the GRE to get into the program in the first place. I was low, as I only scored 1300 which was around the 95th percentile then from what I can recall. Some say that doctoral programs in psychology are harder to get into than medical school. But even with the psychology training and license, you cannot open shop independently and hold yourself out to the public as a sports psychologist without the course work and other academics in the sports psychology/sports sciences realm as well as a ton of supervision by another qualified and licensed sports psychologist! To do so otherwise would violate the ethical requirement to practice within your established area of competence and training.

In any event, my book Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game (Smart Sport Series) aims at helping tennis players and all athletes really to play the game better mentally, whereas my book just released this year The Mental Performance Index: Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History is a much more comprehensive book that is part auto-biography, part new discovery, part social change agent, part football lover’s guide to the Super Bowl, and part coaches manual for success with a team. I think you will love this latest book and you will also like Smart Tennis if you want to improve performance in a specific sport.

I know that was a long one, and I am sorry if some of you had to go take a bathroom break before finishing 🙂 … but I wanted to share my story – and I go into great depth about all this in The Mental Performance Index: Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History … the bottom line is anyone who is ambitious and bright enough can become a sports psychologist, but your really need almost 10 years to do it right. There are very few practicing sports psychologists like myself out there, so it’s hard to gain the supervision … but it is a great profession and I am daily stimulated by a variety of challenges.

Thanks for listening!

John F Murray, PhD
Clinical & Sports Psychologist &
Author of The Mental Performance Index: Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History
Author of Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game (Smart Sport Series)

I hope you enjoyed that little trip into the world of education and sports psychology.