Archive for the ‘Other Sports’ Category

Dr. John F Murray Launches New Show Jumping Column

Palm Beach, FL – February 16, 2017 – JohnFMurray.com – Clinical and sports performance psychologist John F Murray has launched a brand new column on sports psychology on the world’s premier website for show jumpers at www.WorldOfShowJumping.com. The column is called “Mental Equipment,” similar to some of his past columns and radio shows, and is designed to help show jumpers all over the world to improve mental skills such as focus, confidence, and resilience as they prepare for and enter the show ring.

“Over the years, I’ve noticed a modest but steady flow of show jumpers in my private practice, so it’s about time that we have a regular feature column on the topic,” stated Murray. “It will be fun.” You can find the first column at the following link:  Mental Equipment Column at www.WorldOfShowJumping.com.

 

 

Beijing Olympics: Sports Psychology profile of Adler Volmar

Sports psychologist Dr. John Murray is providing Journal Star readers daily updates from the Olympics. The former tennis pro and Florida resident is working with judo competitor Adler Volmar. The goal is to offer insight into the mental and psychological aspect of sports, right up to Volmar’s matches and immediately following them. The doctor will add some Beijing observations both inside and outside the sports venues. Murray’s full work and profile can be found on his own Web site: http://www.johnfmurray.com/

August 12, 2008 – Wednesday early Morning
Adler is nothing but energy! Yesterday was a big day as we finally met up with the man with a heart of gold who is going for the less significant piece of gold. He showed us all around the Olympic complex, the Team USA headquarters and living accommodations, and just about everything there was possibly to see in the Olympic Village.

The security, as you might imagine, is matchless. Once you finally do get in there are countless additional restrictions unless you have this number, decal or color on your badge.

What a great feeling as the weather cooperated following a rainstorm and the air looked actually clear and clean! Athletes were trading badges, walking from training session to another, playing silly video games, lounging, or meeting with media. If you can imagine a major university campus in the USA, with only
all the athletes out and about, and then multiply this by 150 — you get a glimpse of the awe.

I mean these are the best of the best, and the dreams of every country all in one spot.
Let’s talk a little more about Adler. He was born in Miami when his mother visited his sister, but he grew up in Haiti. When he was a teenager he was picked on by bullies and given a good beating. His mother insisted that he learn to defend himself, so at age 13 he started training for judo. By 15 he was a black belt and three years later, he was going to his first Olympics in Atlanta, where he carried the national flag.

After Atlanta, with very poor English, he was tricked into thinking that he had to join the US military and served in the Navy as a combat medic. He missed the 2000 Olympics largely due to his military service but tried again for the judo team in 2004 and missed, coming in third. Many would have given up but Adler persisted with the dream for the gold and he rose in the ranks and won several major international events leading up to the Beijing Olympic trials.

That is when he tore both his anterior cruciate ligament and lateral cruciate, and the Miami Dolphins team physician, Dr. Caldwell, surgically repaired his knee in February and told him he had between a 0 and 1 percent chance of even competing at the June Olympic trials. Adler heard “one percent” and he said “that was plenty enough for me!”

At the trials, he had to win in a sudden-death overtime and it was a highly controversial ending … but the fact is he won and he now represents the USA Team Judo in the 100kg class.

I’ve given you just a sketch of the facts. What you might not realize is that he is one of the most humble and caring persons I have ever met! Can you believe this … for a world class athlete. His mother died last year and she has been an inspiration. His wife has been tirelessly patient and supportive as he reaches for his goals. He had a great training staff in his recovery and then I had the honor of him calling for an appointment only a little over a month ago. We hit it off immediately and he kept telling me that he was taking me with him to Beijing. I kept denying it sarcastically. Well … he felt strongly enough about the mental game and our rapport that he inisted I go and got the plane ticket and hotel reservation.

Very few in the world media or judo land really believe in Adler. He is a definite sleeper from those in the supposed know. But when you meet him, you realize it is never about Adler; rather, he is on a mission to change lives. He has a great family with three kids and he wants to make their lives better.

He wants to get the first gold for judo in U.S. history. He even told me that he wants to help me with the sport
psychology. The man is sincere and he is funny, too. During our long walks around the village he often teased and joked, but the serious side came out too and there is no doubt in his mind that he will walk away with gold, but even that he ultimately gives up to a higher source — his belief and his faith.He never should have been here after that injury, but he is, and the world will have to deal with it.

There are 32 fighters in the draw at the 100kg class and his first opponent Thursday is from Bosnia. He says, “just five steps to change our lives forever,” meaning just win five matches and he will fulfill his mission, and his faith removes any anxiety.

As he said, “This is way beyond me … I’m here for the ride!” Thanks for all your support readers. Today we will go watch some live judo matches and I’ll do some more imagery and relaxation training with Adler. He is one of the best that I have ever seen mentally … yet he also realizes that he needs to be tip-top shape physically as well as mentally. So he takes our work together seriously … looking for ever-so-slight an edge.
I’m going to get some more sleep now.

Dr. John F. Murray attended the Beijing Olympics to provide his unique perspective from the world of Sports Psychology.

Beijing Olympics: Competition looms

Sports psychologist Dr. John Murray is providing Journal Star readers daily updates from the Olympics. The former tennis pro and Florida resident is working with judo competitor Adler Volmar. The goal is to offer insight into the mental and psychological aspect of sports, right up to Volmar’s matches and immediately following them. The doctor will add some Beijing observations both inside and outside the sports venues. Murray’s full work and profile can be found on his own Web site: http://www.johnfmurray.com/

August 13, 2008 – Thursday Early Morning
The day began with the most delicious won ton soup on this side of the Great Wall!
I went back twice to the special hotel soup bar, quite analogous to a nice omelet station in an American hotel. This morning’s “snake sausage” was replaced with “link sausage” so I curiously asked the hotel staff if it was snake meat and they bent over backwards in apologies – explaining that it was just a typographical error on the sign above the food, and then sent me a huge beautiful basket of fruit to my room as a gesture of apologies.

My goodness, I did not expect this and was somewhat embarrassed! But thank you China Resources Hotel, a superb 4-star accommodation about 20 minutes taxi ride from Olympic Village.

Crystal, Earl and I engaged the same routine of walk, subway, and walk and made it to the gorgeous gymnasium before noon to watch a full day of judo. By the way, the subways are ultra modern and I have been in the best and consider Beijing’s subways cleaner and faster than others, with nice digital tvs to watch the Olympics while you wait.

The people seem overall happy, like people in any large city, but there is a strange fascination with cats and dogs which we have seen few of. One cat yesterday came up to Adler in between our watching judo and sprawled on his back right in front of him for a 20 minute nap. Countless locals approached with smiles to take pictures.
I’m not sure what the fascination with a simple cat was, but it aroused more attention than an appearance by the greatest judo master ever — who never lost a match in his entire career — Yasuhiro Yamashita.
I was excited to meet Yamashita and get his autograph on my Olympic flag with a photo and I left the cat where he was.

Adler today was very reflective about his overall mission and how this all fell into place, winning at the trials and now having a chance to represent Team USA. The one thing that is absolutely clear is that he believes totally in his chances and works as hard as anyone in training, but at some point lets go and realizes that it is out of his control, and that competitive outcomes are influenced from an above higher source.
He is indeed very Christian in his beliefs and wants his success to give him the platform to show others what faith does. If it moves mountains tomorrow and he wins gold, he wants the world to know that it was much more than Adler.

As he stated again, this is way beyond me. While he appeared ready to rumble the next day, my only concern was that he not overextend himself in being the perfect tour guide and judo commentator, and get back to his village and get ready for war tomorrow.

He assured me repeatedly that his being with what he calls “his family” here (Earl, Crystal and I) was far more helpful than going back to his dorm room in Olympic Village. So he stayed with us all day until he finally slipped off around 7 p.m. to head back while Crystal, Earl and I watched the semifinals, bronze matches, and gold medal bouts of the day.

Perhaps the most interesting storyline was the performance by a Georgian Judoka, who beat a Russian with sheer passion and then went on to win the gold medal. Seeing the emotion and hugs you just knew there were the politics of Russia and Georgia as much as you want to keep that element out of the games.
Today is the day now that we have all been waiting for. The table is set, the cards are shuffled, and we will soon witness Adler Volmar in all his raw form as he goes up against the absolute best 31 other judoka in the world in the 100 kg class today.

The 32-man draw is set up that you have to win 5 matches in a row to win the gold. If you lose, you can still fight an extremely hard uphill battle for the bronze medal but you need some help in that the person who beat you needs to win the next round. It is sort of like a single elimination tennis tournament with a small chance for third place.

Whether Adler wins or loses, I will be extremely proud of him and eternally grateful for his bringing me to Beijing to experience all of this. While the matches are televised in some parts of the world, they are not being televised in the USA, so your best bet by far — where all matches can be seen live — is to log in to www.nbcolympics.com and you can see it as if you are in the stands!

Beijing is 13 hours ahead of Peoria time, so you would want to get your computer ready no later than 10:45 p.m. and be ready to start watching matches at 11. Be attentive because these matches can last over 15 minutes with the timeouts, or be over in a flash before they start.

Adler appreciates all your support, prayers, and love. He sincerely realizes that social support from the so many good people he has met over the years will be a major force. Now he needs to just compete and I am sure he will be brutal today. If someone beats Adler today, I will credit them endlessly.

I can tell you that I would not have to face this determined warrior today. This is the day he has been waiting for his entire life so tune in and watch him win the gold! None of the traditional press has given him a chance. I know he can do it. Go Adler!

Dr. John F. Murray attended the Beijing Olympics to provide his unique perspective from the world of Sports Psychology.

Arrival at the Beijing Olympics

Sports psychologist Dr. John Murray is providing Journal Star readers daily updates from the Olympics. The former tennis pro and Florida resident is working with judo competitor Adler Volmar. The goal is to offer insight into the mental and psychological aspect of sports, right up to Volmar’s matches and immediately following them. The doctor will add some Beijing observations both inside and outside the sports venues. Murray’s full work and profile can be found on his own Web site: http://www.johnfmurray.com/

August 11, 2008 – Tuesday Morning Blog
We all got in to Beijing quite late last night and made it over to the taxi stand around 10PM. It took a bit of haggling to make sure we were not overcharged $60 and the three of us squeezed into a small taxi ride that took about 45 minutes only cost $18! The bargains ended abruptly in the hotel, however, as a bottle of Evian water cost $10. The city is vast and spralling and we did not notice anything that unusual about the air quality late at night. So now on a Tuesday morning we all had a great buffet breakfast consiting of dumplings, rice, snake sausauge (no not real snake), breads and eggs. I asked if the mild was pasteurized and it took 4 or 5 attendants to finally say they did not know. But since this is the 4-star China Resources Hotel I am assuming all will be fine. TV here is interesting. There are a few English stations including CNN and CTV, and at least 5 or 6 different stations were covering the Olympic games so I had the pleasure of watching women’s polo (US vs. China), some of the women’s basketball (US vs. China) and weight lifting.

We are all excited because today we go over to the Olympic village and get a tour with NBC and Telemundo while meeting up with Adler Volmar here for the first time. My goal really is to just make sure he is aggressive and hungry as Adler historically has a tendency to need adversity in a match to really turn it on. He is such a nice guy but nice guys don’t win gold medals unless they keep their perspective and realize that everyone out here would like to send him home with nothing to show for it but an Olympic appearance. I did the sport psychology evaluation on Adler and have now worked with him for a month, and I will say that he is perhaps the strongest athlete mentally that I have ever seen. Something tells me that he very well might toss the judo world on their head and walk away with this gleaming gold medal. Nobody expects it … now if i can only keep him hungry, mad, and on fire I think he has a great chance!

Dr. John F. Murray attended the Beijing Olympics to provide his unique perspective from the world of Sports Psychology.

Beijing Olympics: Here we come

Sports psychologist Dr. John Murray is providing Journal Star readers daily updates from the Olympics. The former tennis pro and Florida resident is working with judo competitor Adler Volmar. The goal is to offer insight into the mental and psychological aspect of sports, right up to Volmar’s matches and immediately following them. The doctor will add some Beijing observations both inside and outside the sports venues. Murray’s full work and profile can be found on his own Web site: http://www.johnfmurray.com/

August 9, 2008 – Sunday – Detroit – 2:15 PM
If you are going to the Olympics, and especially as far away as Beijing, you better not miss the flight, so I stayed the night in a Ft. Lauderdale hotel not far from the airport and we just arrived in Detroit to catch the flight to Tokyo and then on to the big city.

I flew up with Crystal and we met her father, Earl, smartly attired in his red, white and blue sporting clothes, so the three of us can pursue with Adler (Volmar) the mission of (judo) gold. Over lunch we discussed again how all athletes need to believe totally in their abilities and in their chance of actually winning the gold. At the same time, the best athletes — Adler included — know that while they are giving their best and outworking and out-thinking their opponents in preparation for the big day, ultimately outcome is decided by a higher force, be it spiritual or the mere fact that as hard as you prepare there might be someone else on the other side of the mat who prepared longer, smarter, or better.

Still you pursue the dream with total confidence and willpower, with the best possible strategy, nutrition and physical training possible. Another topic that came up over lunch was the “Tiger Woods” element. This is the flow that was written about so long ago in the book “Flow” in the 1960s. There are a lot of cliches that cover the topic of focus and concentration, but so few athletes come even close to maximizing their use of flow.

Just look at the history of Olympic records and how records are broken every year, and how it is almost a steady progression of faster times and greater strength, so if you examine the Olympics 100 years from today the accomplishments of today will look very average. Mentally this highlights that we are never truly reaching our human potential in sports — but only approaching an unlimited human potential.

OK, enough philosophizing for now. I am seated amongst about an 80 percent population of Japanese citizens returning to their homeland as we all three get ready to board the massive 747 with upstairs seating and a food/drink lounge to Tokyo.

The upcoming 14 hours of flying would seem taxing if not for the fact that less than two years ago I flew down to Australia with Vince Spadea for the three tournaments at the start of the 2007 season — Adelaide, Sydeny and Melbourne and it was about a 26 hour trek! So, we are all excited to join Adler in Beijing as this two time Olympian gets ready for his day of destiny on August 14.

Dr. John F. Murray attended the Beijing Olympics to provide his unique perspective from the world of Sports Psychology.

25 Inspirational Olympic Games Quotes

In honor of the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi, here are 25 inspirational Olympic Games quotes that capture the heart of sports psychology

“The Olympics have been with the world since 776 B.C., and have only been interrupted by war, especially in the modern era.”
-Bill Toomey, American decathlete, 1968 Summer Olympics

“You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours.”
– Coach Herb Brooks

“If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.”
– Mark Spitz, winner of 7 Gold medals, 1972 Munich Olympic Games

“It’s all about the journey, not the outcome.”
-Carl Lewis, Winner of 9 Gold medals, 1984, 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games

“I Didn’t Set Out to Beat the World; I Just Set Out to Do My Absolute Best.”
– Al Oerter

“Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion: The potential for greatness lives within each of us.”
-Wilma Rudolph, Winner of 3 Gold Medals, 1960 Rome Olympic Games

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
-Muhammad Ali, Winner of Gold Medal, 1960 Rome Summer Olympics

“Nothing is impossible. With so many people saying it couldn’t be done, all it takes is an imagination.”
– Michael Phelps, U.S. Gold medalist, Swimming

“Luck has nothing to do with it, because I have spent many, many hours, countless hours, on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come.”
-Serena Williams, Winner of 2 Gold Medal, 2000 and 2008 Olympic Games

“What keeps me going is not winning, but the quest for reaching potential in myself as a coach and my kids as divers. It’s the pursuit of excellence.”
– Coach Ron O’Brien

“The Olympics are always a special competition. It is very difficult to predict what will happen.”
-Sergei Bubka Ukrainian pole vaulter, 1988 Summer Olympics

“The Olympics are a wonderful metaphor for world cooperation, the kind of international competition that’s wholesome and healthy, an interplay between countries that represents the best in all of us.”
– John Williams

“The first thing is to love your sport. Never do it to please someone else. It has to be yours.”
– Peggy Fleming, Gold medalist, figure skating 1968 Olympic Games

“One shouldn’t be afraid to lose; this is sport. One day you win; another day you lose. Of course, everyone wants to be the best. This is normal. This is what sport is about. This is why I love it.”
– Oksana Baiul, Olympic Gold Medalist

“For athletes, the Olympics are the ultimate test of their worth.”
– Mary Lou Retton, American gymnast, 1984 Summer Olympics

“It has been said that the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games is something that an athlete will remember for the rest of their life. It is true. That moment when you walk into the Olympic Stadium as part of the Australian Olympic Team, is a moment that I will never forget.”
– Jeff Fenech, Australian boxer

“It’s always an honor to be able to represent your country at the highest level.”
– Coach Basheer Abdullah

“I wanted no part of politics. And I wasn’t in Berlin to compete against any one athlete. The purpose of the Olympics, anyway, was to do your best. As I’d learned long ago from Charles Riley, the only victory that counts is the one over yourself.”
– Jesse Owens

“My only focus was the Olympics because in my sport, that is the ultimate. Everything is geared toward that, and my entire life was geared around getting there and winning gold.”
– Cammi Granato

“At the Olympics, you there to do a job. I feel you should take it seriously. You should be respectful. You are putting on the red-white-and-blue and going out there to perform for your country.”
– Shannon Miller

“Victory is in having done your best. If you’ve done your best, you’ve won.”
– Coach Bill Bowerman

“Never put an age limit on your dreams,”
– Dara Torres, U.S. Gold medalist, Swimming

“You have to train your mind like you train your body.”
– Bruce Jenner, Gold medalist, Decathlon 1976 Olympic Games

“Runners in the western world have a tendency to create psychological barriers for themselves, but Morceli runs at will, with no inhibitions.”
Eamonn Coghlan, 3-time winner, Olympics Games

“A lifetime of training for just ten seconds.”
Jesse Owens, 1936 Olympic Games

If you’ve enjoyed reading these, here’s my collection of great quotes from coaches.

The Autum of the Patriarch

Sports Psychology Commentary from The Times of India – By Partha Bhaduri – December 22, 2012 – Sachin Tendulkar Clings On To An Image Of Himself From a Long Time Ago. Is It Time He Saw The Real Picture?

Remember Dorian Gray in that seminal Oscar Wilde novel? “If it were I who was to be always young and the picture that was to grow old…I would give my soul for it, ” says Dorian, as Wilde attempts to connect the dots between the protagonist’s inner fragility and enduring public persona. The exercise itself is fraught with vanity, for in each of us resides a Dorian Gray, a yearning for everlasting spring. It can’t be wished away and it can’t be attained. Yet there it lurks, a festering wound, a constant reminder of withering beauty and fading prowess.

Those who live their lives in the public glare are more vulnerable, of course. Sometimes we come across a senile politician, an exhausted writer, a fixated actor or an oddball singer who prompts us to look in the mirror and count the blessings of our anonymous existence. Yet nowhere is the celebration of youth as the peak of physical, mental and creative faculty more pronounced than in sport.

Peter Pans abound in sport as a necessity. It’s an arena where the end of youth signals professional death, and yet the conquest of new challenge is rewarded. It’s a ‘contradiction trap’ which sooner or later ensnares all sportspersons. The ones who have been the best, who were taught never to give up, are the most susceptible. They are those who, as a necessity, start believing in the invulnerability of their own myth.

This is what is happening to Sachin Tendulkar. It’s not over yet but the runs are not coming. Age is catching up. It’s a painful but inevitable occurrence in the life of every accomplished athlete.

“Tendulkar’s desire to play on is an overestimation of his abilities at his age. That’s natural for a sportsman who has almost transcended his sport, ” says social theorist Ashis Nandy. “It’s a dilemma which can be understood at many levels. It’s very difficult to accept that one’s abilities may have declined. He needs to confront his own self but can the world’s biggest cricketer do that? He has grown up with public adulation and cricket as the only constants. He is, after all, larger than life. He believes it. ”

It’s interesting how a nation which built up ‘Brand Tendulkar’ or ‘Icon Tendulkar’ is now scrambling to tear down the edifice. These days, a confused Tendulkar looks at the picture – at his public image – and sees ugliness. This is a man whose sole task was to bring us joy with a bat in hand. What should he do now?

This is the rare child prodigy who lived in a bubble but did not fade away when he grew up. Anybody who has seen Tendulkar at nets will know him as a cricketer whose devotion to batting borders on the religious. He has not been afraid to chase the extreme in his quest for perfection. This is the man-child who has been a part of our collective consciousness for almost a quarter century. He had a ‘legend’ status in the pocket and riches in the bank, yet just a few years ago pushed his body and mind to the limit and bounced back from injury and poor form. It would have been easy to just give up and walk away.

But Tendulkar fought, for he was brought up to fight. Now, he is fighting the fickle masses. He is fighting self-doubt. He is fighting bad form. He is fighting age. How can there not be another star turn lurking, another glory day, another challenge to cherish? Of course he will retire. But right now? When the body is creaking, the runs aren’t coming and the clamour for his head grows with every passing day? When India’s Test fortunes have hit rock bottom? Isn’t giving up now fundamentally at odds with Tendulkar’s competitive nature?

Unless, of course, he is forced to quit. And give up on what has been his life.

It’s not for nothing that Vivian Richards, another supreme exponent of batting whose powers had declined to the extent that he became a strutting self-parody before quitting, talked about ‘death’ when asked about Tendulkar’s retirement recently. “When you’re retired, you’re retired for a very, very long time. It’s like being dead to some degree. So while you’re alive and still enjoying it, that’s what it’s all about. ”

This is how serious ‘retirement’ is for those wealthy sportspersons who’ve known nothing else but their sport. Yet there are those who know when to take the call. Steffi Graf. Sunil Gavaskar. Annika Sorenstam. Even Bjorn Borg, though that didn’t turn out so well. There are those who adjust well to a life outside their own routines. Freddie Flintoff has controversially taken up boxing to keep busy. Shane Warne preens and plays poker or the odd T20 game. David Seaman catches fish.

Will Tendulkar, now 39, know exactly when he ceases to be a part of the solution and becomes a part of the problem? Or has he already crossed the line? Psychologist Dr. John F Murray, often called the ‘Roger Federer of sports psychology‘, has worked with some of the biggest sports stars on the planet and believes Tendulkar must now expand his concept of self.

“This fits within what we term ‘athletic identity’, to the extent that an athlete’s identity is wrapped up in the athlete’s role, ” says Murray. “It is said that athletes are the only people on this planet we ask to die twice. The bigger they are, the more horribly traumatic it is to consider retirement. Tendulkar cannot fathom it stopping. He might know he has lost something physically, but he figures that mentally he can still make it up because he has done this his whole life, and done it the best. He will have a higher athletic identity, and there is more to lose since more of his self is invested in this athlete role.

“If I were working with this fine superstar, I would try to get him to expand his self-concept. His life may seem over to him, but it’s only just beginning. He has to return to earth for perhaps the first time in his life. Maintaining a positive self identity gets difficult for superstar sportsmen who are nearing the end of their careers. ”

Tendulkar is not alone in this predicament. There is boxer Manny Pacquiao, an icon in Filipino society whose influence stretches to politics, religion, even showbiz. After his recent loss to Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez, even his mother took to national television and urged him to quit. Yet at 34, Pacquiao keeps delaying the inevitable. “We will still fight, ” he said.

The opinionated former Indian captain Bishan Singh Bedi, who calls himself an “unadultered Tendulkar fan”, retired at around 33. “There’s only one death and retirement is not it, ” he says vehemently. “I retired because I wasn’t enjoying it. Simple. The human body, or mind, is tenacious but even tenacity has its limits.

“You have to detach yourself from your public persona to keep delivering the gifts you are famous for, whether in sport or music or literature. My left arm, with which I bowled, was a gift. Tendulkar’s abilities are a gift, and gifts can be taken away. It’s when you start believing you are larger than your gifts that you become cagey about failure or retirement. It’s self-created hyper anxiety. ”

The Tendulkar issue has also attracted the attention of California-born Dave Bernard, an expert on retirement issues and the author of Navigating the Retirement Jungle and Are You Just Existing And Calling It A Life. He usually advises people to focus on finding their passion after retirement, but sports stars pose a different challenge.

“It’s an interesting dilemma, ” says Bernard, “Sports figures know that because of the physical demands, they will retire very early. My concern with these super athletes is what they plan to do after retirement. Their life is dominated by practice, games and basking in the glow or bouncing back. Even beyond the challenge of coping with a fall from fame, what will they do?

“What is left to buy? What is left to chase? They have two of everything. The threat of boredom, unfulfilled days and a feeling of wasting your life are likely byproducts, magnified even more for those whose life has been a glorious one in the spotlight. How can their natural competitiveness be redirected? I do not envy these famous super athletes. It’s a long and painful exit from their accustomed world. ”

The signs of Tendulkar’s decline have been there for a while now, screaming large in our faces. The eye is weaker. That immaculate judgment of length is missing. The feet seem rooted the spot. He plays against the spin as a reflex action and perishes. Sometimes he gets out to good deliveries he would have kept out earlier. Sometimes ordinary bowlers growl in his face as he hangs his head and departs. He has now gone 31 innings without a ton, the longest such break between centuries in his career.

Tendulkar had a similar slump from December 2005 to January 2007, going 17 innings without a century, but rose like the phoenix, defying age and critics to average 78. 10 in 2010 from 14 Tests and scoring the first double ton in ODIs. But is it endgame this time? Year by year, his performance dips. Against England he averaged only 18. 66, and 2010 seems an eternity away. It hasn’t helped that Team India keeps losing.

For India’s biggest football icon, Baichung Bhutia, being involved with the game after retirement has been a blessing. “Retirement can be very, very tough on us. In Indian football, I’ve seen poverty, depression, even suicide after retirement. Of course, for a well-known super-rich athlete like Tendulkar, money is not the issue. His desire to play the game is the problem. I know the feeling. He should know when to call time on his career, ” says Bhutia.

“For me, I’m blessed to be involved with my club in Sikkim. I can still go the ground and play. I can involve myself with the financial aspects. It’s a way to keep busy with new challenges. But I still feel I can play for India and score a goal. That confidence is still there. But suppose I do score a goal in my comeback match, what then? I can have an ordinary next 15 games. It’s false confidence, ” he adds. “Tendulkar, I’m sure, feels he can play on and score a century or two or three. It’s his call. But for him too, it’s always good to have concrete plans in place for the future. ”

What if there is to be no grand farewell for Tendulkar? Or what if grand farewells are overrated, and leave no lasting impact on one’s legacy? Tendulkar won’t be the first or last athlete to confront these doubts. “The bigger the sportsman, the harder it is for him to retire, ” says former India stumper and selector Kiran More, who retired at only 31. “I opened an academy. I had a business. I took to golf. Let me tell you this. You never get over it. It still hurts. The sooner one accepts that, the better. ”

Of course, Indian cricket has no real replacement for Tendulkar. He will soon be in action again. The squad lacks depth. Australia arrive in two months time for another round of Tests. Maybe after that, or even before, Tendulkar will be forced to confront his fallibility. He must glance up at the picture again. Will he see what everyone else sees?

I hope you enjoyed this article from the world of sports psychology.

Scott Hall’s ex: ‘Done 4 Life’

Charleston Post & Courier – May 8, 2011 – Mike Mooneyham – Sometimes it’s better just to let go.

Dana Hall, ex-wife of pro wrestling star Scott Hall, says she’s finally come to the stark realization that closure doesn’t come to all.

She recently made what she called a last-ditch effort to reach out to Hall, who has battled substance abuse for a number of years, in an attempt to reconnect Hall with their two teen-aged children.

Hall, 53, has been hospitalized several times in recent months, and last year had a pacemaker and defibrillator implanted in his heart.

She has publicly pleaded with friends and family to intervene on Hall’s behalf.

But in light of recent events, she says, nothing short of a miracle will “save” the wrestler.

“I know now my prayers will not be answered as I had hoped,” she says.

Dana Hall, 49, said a recent phone call from her ex-husband gave her a brief glimmer of hope. That hope, however, was short-lived.

“I could barely understand him, but finally heard him say he was sorry for his behavior, and after wrapping his head around it, he knew he was going to die, didn’t have much time left, and wanted me and the kids to be with him in the end.”

She says Hall, however, hung up when she started to talk and would not answer when she called him back. Not knowing what his condition might be, she says she called 911 to meet her at Hall’s home 10 miles away in case he needed help.

“He sounded like he might be dying,” she says. “I was freaking out because he sounded really bad.”

Emergency medical technicians were already on the scene and climbing through a bedroom window when she arrived.

When she got to the front porch, she says, Hall was pushing an EMT out of the door.

“It was nothing short of a scene from ‘One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ meets ‘The Shining.’ This is no exaggeration … I wish it was,” she says.

When he saw her, she says, Hall “went into a rampage against me, telling them to get this (expletive) off his property.”

“He was threatening to beat them all up, doing the crotch chop thing to them, making a fool of himself, ranting and raving like a crazed mental person,” she says.

She claims Hall, who was wearing a T-shirt and boxers, spat in her face as he yelled obscenities.

“I had my hands out to him and was crying, and he could have cared less. He just went on with his ranting,” she says. “He at one point held his hand up to strike me, and they moved me away. There were like eight paramedics and six officers. I told him goodbye. This would be the last time I would come see him.”

Now in hindsight, she says, she feels foolish after years of trying to mend fences and help her ex-husband.

“I feel like such a fool for falling for it again. There was nothing behind his eyes but hate and evil. He made his bed … now he has to lie in it.”

The incident was just the latest chapter in the sad saga of a one-time pro wrestling superstar whose fall from grace has been dramatic and painful to watch.

Noted sports psychologist Dr. John Murray says the situation is a delicate one that should be carefully handled.

“Scott’s condition is obviously a very sad one that is played out all too often in our society,” says Murray. “He is seriously trapped by his addiction, and it is going to kill him unless he makes a 180-degree change soon.”

The difference, says Murray, is that Hall is a very public sports figure, and his drama is being played out for all to see.

“This probably makes it even more difficult for him to recover and more painful for his family.”

Hall was one of the highest-paid performers in the wrestling business during the ‘90s when he headlined as Razor Ramon and later as a member of WWE’s Kliq (with Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash, Triple H and Sean Waltman) and WCW’s NWO (with Nash and Hulk Hogan). But his professional and personal life spiraled out of control due to a string of drug-related incidents, and the self-proclaimed “Bad Guy” became a problem child and liability that lost favor in the business.

“A very long nightmare” is how Dana Hall describes their rocky relationship.

The two had been acquaintances and had first met at a bar where they both worked when she was only 17 years old. But they went their separate ways and didn’t meet again until nearly eight years later at another Orlando-area nightclub.

By then Dana was divorced with 5-year-old twin boys. The two dated and lived together for about two years before marrying in February 1990 in Winter Park, Fla., where Hall was based while working for Dusty Rhodes in small towns throughout the Southeast.

“We had a very strong attraction to each other, and pretty much that was the basis of our relationship for the entire time,” she says.

Things were different in the beginning, she says, as the two traveled together during a two-year stint in Germany and the Caribbean.

“We used to go to the gym twice a day and train together, go on bike rides, beach, sun. We used to joke and say we were living the ‘Muscle and Fitness’ lifestyle.”

She says she never envisioned that their lives would take such a dramatic turn.

“There were many red flags in the beginning which never really stopped, and I guess I chose to ignore them. I was ‘in love’ and thought I could change him like a lot of woman make the mistake of doing. I thought the attraction would get us through.”

She says she never thought Hall would achieve the success he later did in the business.

“He was working for Otto Wanz those first two years, and we traveled to Germany and Austria for months at a time, and lived in little caravans behind the building. Martha and Owen Hart were our neighbors.

“I never even thought he would get famous. We’d watch WWF on TV, and Scott would say that he was going to be like that one day. I didn’t think it was ever going to happen, but little did I know that it would become our worst nightmare.

“It wasn’t until Scott started with the first alter ego, The Diamond Studd, then Razor Ramon, that things started to go really bad, and it hasn’t stopped. The more fame, the more out of control he was. And the more our marriage and family crumbled. All I can say is that whatever good memories there might have been, they are now overshadowed by more bad ones. His dream to become a pro wrestler became our nightmare.”

Dana says Hall at first denied his drug abuse and tried to hide his addiction. Perhaps it would have been better had he chosen another line of work, she says, but he always loved the wrestling business.

“He was just sucked into this fantasy life,” she says. “He probably would have still been addicted, but I don’t think it would have gotten this far out of control. He wouldn’t have been able to do some of the things he has done and gotten away with as much.”

The two divorced in May 1998 after eight years of marriage, tied the knot again in March 1999, and divorced for the final time in October 2001. They have separated and gotten back together several times since then.

The fame, fortune and big homes, she says, didn’t make up for the dysfunction.

“All the money in the world could not make up for all that was lost to gain it,” says Dana Hall, who now cleans other people’s homes for a living. “Scott used to always say he was doing this for us when I would complain about how often he was gone, but what he was doing for us only ultimately destroyed us — and him. How could all the money in the world be worth that? Be careful what you wish for.”

She says her latest attempt to reach out to Hall will be her last.

“I tried like hell. I lost. He is lost. When I was staring into his eyes for the last time, there was nothing in there. I cannot waste any more of my time and tears on Scott Hall. I have to save myself and our kids from any more direct hurt from this man. The indirect hurt is more than enough.”

She says she had been praying that Hall would make amends with his children.

“My last hope was that he would get in a safe place, get his brain cleared out enough to where he could make amends with the kids. But I know that’s not going to happen now. That was my last prayer and dream and wish … that there would be some kind of happy ending … that he could die with his family around him and on good terms with me and the kids.”

Their two children, 16-year-old daughter Cassidy and 19-year-old son Cody, are the real casualties, she says.

“They hold it in. They hate to talk about it, but they accept that they don’t have a father or a normal life.”

Now, she says, any possible reconciliation will have to happen without her.

“That was all I needed to see to convince me. I saw him for the last time as I had wished. It didn’t go as I had planned, but when does it?”

She recently reached out to WWE, which had helped Hall in the past, regarding the company offering Hall another chance at rehab.

She says the organization is looking into the possibility, but is concerned that there are not many facilities that can deal with his level of addiction as well as his mental and heart issues.

Kevin Nash, she says, would be the likely intermediary since Hall has limited his interaction with other friends.

“Kevin and I have both approached Ann Russo-Gordon at WWE about possibly offering more help to him. They have not said yes, nor have they said no. Finding some place that is qualified to deal with Scott’s magnitude of issues is proving to be difficult. They, of course, have been burned by Scott many times in the past and I don’t blame them at all if they completely shut the door at this point. I had to ask for him at least one more time, but after seeing him, I know he doesn’t even want the help.”

If Hall declines this time, she says, that door would probably be “closed for life.”

“As well it should be,” she adds.

Nash said recently that his friend’s problems go beyond substance addiction. Hall’s issues, he claims, are based on events that happened before his wrestling career, and his only coping mechanism has been turning to drugs and alcohol.

“Drugs and alcohol aren’t the problem; to Scott they are the solution,” says Nash.

The problem, both agree, is that Hall, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, doesn’t seem to want the help he desperately needs.

“Scott has made it very clear he does not want help,” says his ex-wife. “Scott made it clear that he does not want his family, nor his kids in his life in the end, more than he wants alcohol, drugs, sickness and his last enablers. He has no intentions of making amends to his children in the time he has left.”

She recently had advocated more drastic measures — a possible staged intervention on Hall’s behalf.

“Scott appears at this point to be unable to monitor and control his actions responsibly, and any attempts at a staged intervention as a last resort need to be extremely carefully planned and executed,” says sports psychologist Murray. “It might be the best hope for him at this stage. His ex-wife needs to do whatever she can to first protect the children and then try to facilitate help for him without endangering herself.”

Dana Hall, however, says she no longer entertains any desire to intervene.

“I am not going to facilitate any more help for Scott or endanger myself. Scott has not had any visitation rights with the kids since before 2004, and he lost parental rights and visitation in 2005.”

She describes her ex-husband as “a train wreck in progress.”

Hall showed up intoxicated at an appearance at an independent show April 8 in Massachusetts. He had to be helped into and out of the ring before being hospitalized for several days in Rhode Island where he was treated for cardiac issues.

“He is oblivious. He doesn’t even realize what he did at that show,” she says. “He doesn’t realize anything that’s happened since then. He has been in and out of the hospital this whole time. He called Kevin one day and suggested opening a wrestling school. He can’t relate to anybody unless it’s about wrestling. He’s completely out of touch with reality.”

She says he hasn’t seen their daughter since last August and, until she convinced her son to go with Nash to visit Hall at the hospital two weeks ago, he hadn’t seen his son in nearly two years. She says she fears her children have suffered irreparably from the family dysfunction.

“As long as he is not in treatment at least trying to get sober, any kind of a relationship concerning our kids is impossible, as they have suffered enough disappointment and hurt in their lives in regards to their father. His mental state is unpredictable and out of control to put it mildly. No one should have to be subjected to what he is spewing … least of all our kids. I could not trust this would not happen after what I witnessed that day. Besides being severely addicted, bipolar and depressed, he seems to be exhibiting multiple personalities, and none of them are nice.”

She says she appreciates Nash’s involvement in attempts to get Hall help, but that even he is feeling the strain of trying to assist someone who apparently doesn’t want it.

“Kevin is the new conductor for this crazy train, for as long as he can take it,” she says. “He is pretty much at his wit’s end as well.”

As for Dana Hall, she says her battle is over.

“I am officially done. That’s the last time that man will hurt me. I’m wrapping all of this up and getting on with it. I guess it was the closure I needed. It was not the closure I had imagined, but the closure the kids and I will have to accept.

“I have tried everything humanly possible to get through to this man for way too long. I have yelled, screamed, begged, pleaded and made enough of an ass out of myself too many times for someone who could care less. You can’t save someone with your love … my bad.

The decision to give up, she says, was not her own in the end.

“I am at peace with letting him go … I have no choice.”

I hope you enjoyed this difficult but important article from the world of clinical and sports psychology.

Do Midseason Coaching Changes Work?

Newsday – November 17, 2010 – John Jeansonne – Years of scholarly research and psychological interpretation can assure Islanders fans that this week’s reboot – firing of coach Scott Gordon and replacing him with AHL call-up Jack Capuano – may work. Or may not.

“I think back to the New York Yankees and Billy Martin,” said sports psychologist John Murray, who has worked with coaches and athletes in all professional sports, “and the brief effects of the incredible passion he would bring. He’d win a while, then they’d start losing and he was gone, then he’d come back and they’d start winning again.”

A 2007 article in the International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching – “The Effect of Mid-Season Coach Turnover on Team Performance: The Case of the National Hockey League (1989-2003)” – found that teams that resorted to such methods boosted their point totals from .35 to .45, a slight improvement, during their transition season, and continued to improve to .51 the following year.

But the same study indicated, similar to the Billy Martin anecdote, that the change was relatively short-term.

As far back as 1963, an analysis by Oscar Grusky – examining managerial changes in baseball – demonstrated a “negative correlation” between replacing the team’s skipper and its won-lost record. Grusky’s interpretation, cited in a 1995 Journal of Sport Behavior paper, was that the manager/coach replacement process for a struggling team “is also disruptive to the organization. The uncertainty associated with a new leader with a different agenda and new ideas may result in ever poorer sport team performance.”

That hardly is encouraging news for the Islanders’ rescue plan, with the team on a 10-game winless streak and the season in danger of slipping away altogether.

The same Journal article, however, offered opposing fact-finding by Gamson and Scotch, published in the mid-1960s, arguing that Grusky had not given sufficient credit to the “meaningful impact” of coaches and managers on team performance. Gamson and Scotch contended that “a change in leadership provides fresh ideas, new perspectives, and a rejuvenated atmosphere. …”

Murray agreed. “Novelty in human behavior is something that is extremely salient,” he said in a telephone interview. “It’s like, if you want your dog to come, you use a different tone of voice. It may be questionable how effective it can be early in the season. It’s difficult to predict. But it might be an effective psychological
ploy.”

Not surprisingly, these mid-season searches for a master locksmith – attempting to free what possibilities might not have been realized on a stumbling team – have become increasingly common. According to a researcher named Dodd, the rate of turnover among managers and coaches in professional sports in North America jumped from 15.3 to 20.6 percent from the mid-80s to mid-90s, with coaching tenures dropping from an average of 2.48 to 2.44 years.

With any disappointing team – the Islanders and Dallas Cowboys being the most obvious current examples – there clearly are factors beyond any coach’s command. Player talent. Injuries. Deteriorating confidence. Still, the time-honored coaching shake-up, often presented as a call for accountability, can fall on deaf ears if read by players as holding only the coach accountable.

“I do believe there are benefits to novelty,” Murray said. “But you can’t substitute quality. I would think, that unless it’s an extreme, extreme case, you can always improve a team with good mentoring. Take anybody: There’s a range of behavior from good to bad. A good coach can inspire his players; that’s what I do for a living. You try to get the maximum out of each person.”

So, the Islanders’ sacrifice of Scott Gordon may work. But only if expectations are based in reality.

“You don’t control the outcome in sports,” Murray said. “You control performance. Don’t think about winning. Don’t think about statistics. Think about performance. Don’t think about outcome.”

Don’t think about the Stanley Cup just yet.

I hope you enjoyed this article from the world of sports psychology.

Helping a child who doesn’t make the team

Chicago Tribune – Julia Edwards – September 1, 2010 – Every fall, the hopeful warriors of tryout season stampede gyms and fields across the country. Whether they’re upperclassmen hoping to make the leap to varsity or seventh-graders facing the selection process for the first time, each student faces the possibility of rejection.

“My coaches say that’s the hardest thing they do, having to cut kids,” said Terry Cooper, athletic director of Mountain Brook Schools in Birmingham, Ala.

Unlike grades that can be raised over the year, team cuts are quick, blunt and final. In today’s parenting climate of positive reinforcement, not making the team may be the first time a child is told he is not good enough. What to say, then, to the sullen, sweaty child who slumps into the car outside the gym?

“Allow the kid to talk and find out where they’re at emotionally,” said John Murray, a sports psychologist in Palm Beach, Fla. “If it’s a serious problem, find out from the coaches what to do next time.”

Murray cautions parents against lashing out at coaches too quickly. He likens trying out for sports to a job hunt. Rather than retaliate, ask what you would need to do to be considered next time.

Students might also want to consider the reasons they want to join the team.

“Sometimes I find it’s to be with friends, to please parents or to beat out others,” Murray said. “Parents should do their homework (because kids) may not be as exuberant about the sport as they think.”

From those conversations, create a backup plan. Whether it’s playing the sport on a team outside of school or finding a new sport, it’s important to stay in shape and not lose the athletic drive.

Cooper encourages those cut from selective teams to play “non-cut” sports such as cross-country. Mountain Brook Junior High can have as many as 200 students on cross-country, many of whom have been cut from other sports, but use running to train for next year’s team.

And remember, part of playing sports is learning how to lose, Murray says: “When you don’t succeed in reaching your objective, you learn more.”

ADVICE FOR PARENTS

Sports psychologist John Murray offers these tips for parents of students who may or may not make the team:

Be realistic: Before tryouts begin, make sure your child is going into it with a healthy perception of his or her skills and the possibility of not making the team.

Be a parent: Sports may teach toughness, but a child should still feel accepted at home. “Kids want to be loved for who they are, not what they do,” he said. Don’t add to the feeling of failure at home.

Keep a cool head: Before you call the coach, wait a few days and ask for objective feedback.

Keep it up: Encourage your child to use the season to build strength and skills with other teams or sports.

A backup plan: Talk about alternatives for physical activity outside school. I hope you enjoyed this article about sports psychology.