Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Indians’ Snell deals with depression

Sports Psychology Commentary in the Indianapolis Star – July 2, 2009 – Phillip B. Wilson – He feared he would hurt himself while struggling with Pirates.

Ian Snell’s return to Indianapolis couldn’t have been more unusual. It’s not often a major league pitcher asks to be demoted.

Then he comes down to Triple-A and strikes out nearly everybody. His fastball clocked consistently between 94-96 mph, Snell struck out 17, including 13 in a row, Sunday at Victory Field. This was the same pitcher who threw the stadium’s only no-hitter on May 15, 2005.

But after his outing Sunday, Snell told WTHR-13 he has been battling depression and considered drastic measures about a month ago due to the growing negativity surrounding his struggles in Pittsburgh. He was 2-8 with a 5.36 ERA in 15 starts with the Pirates this year.

“Sometimes people do stupid stuff and I had to fight it, not to do something stupid and take my life for myself and from my family and my parents,” Snell told the station.

The demons, Snell called them, can be common in the high-pressure, big business world of professional sports. But they have earned more publicity recently in baseball. In the past two weeks, major leaguers Khalil Greene, Dontrelle Willis and Joey Votto have been on or off the disabled list with what have been described as anxiety-related issues.

One of the game’s best pitchers, Kansas City’s Zack Greinke, left the team for a while three years ago with a social anxiety disorder. Now he’s 10-3 with a 1.95 ERA.

Snell, 27, decided he needed to get out of Pittsburgh to get his mind right. He lashed out then at the media and fans.

“I just made a decision for myself, for my career and better for my life, so why not do it now than wait for later, until everything really blows up?” Snell said last week after a game in Pittsburgh.

The Indians said Snell is finished discussing the issue. Pirates director of player development Kyle Stark wrote in an e-mail the team does not want to do interviews on a private matter, but added “(we) have taken the appropriate steps to get the appropriate people involved. We are here to support Ian.”

That Snell seeks help is most important, said John Murray, a prominent sports psychologist based in Palm Beach, Fla.

“They’ll say they have a dislocated throwing shoulder, but they won’t say they have a social phobia,” Murray said of the most common problem with clinical depression and anxiety disorders. “Many people are suffering in society because they don’t seek help.

“The more we avoid problems, the more they have a hold on us.”

Snell had an impressive Triple-A season with the Indians in 2005. He went 11-3 with a 3.70 ERA in 18 starts, including that no-hitter. He overpowered Triple-A hitters with 104 strikeouts in 112 innings and had just 23 walks.

He stuck with the Pirates coming out of spring training in 2006 and went 14-11 with a 4.74 ERA, then went 9-12 with a 3.76 ERA the next year.

Last year’s ERA ballooned to 5.42, when he went 7-12. He walked a career-high 89 batters in 1641/3 innings.

Pirates general manager Neal Huntington acknowledged in a recent interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Snell has struggled with the backlash from bad outings.

“Sometimes, a player can be his own worst enemy,” Huntington said. “In this case, we have to find the right buttons to push to help Ian reach his potential.

“The most successful players block it out. The ones that aren’t able to, it wears on them. In Ian’s case, for the better part of a year and a half now, he hasn’t felt like he’s been supported by the fans because he has struggled, and he has not been able to block that out. I think it will be a big step for Ian to make that jump.”

Snell’s next scheduled start is Saturday. The July 4 fireworks crowd at Victory Field is again expected to be a sellout, in excess of 15,000 fans.

“Seek God and positive people around you and look for your true friends, and they’ll come out and support you,” Snell told the station. “A lot of people support me right now. I’m just grateful, because if I didn’t have them, I probably wouldn’t be standing here right now.”

Hope you enjoyed the commentary on sports psychology

Are Sports Still Alive in this Economy?

SPECIAL REPORT FROM DR. JOHN F MURRAY: Are Sports Still Alive in these Tough Economic Times?

It’s been one of the most exciting weeks ever for sports, especially here in Florida. The Miami Dolphins won the AFC East after a 1-15 mark last year. The Florida Gators football team grabbed its second national championships in three years, making this author and all of Gator Nation extremely proud. But is all this sports hype justified in a time when the economy is tanking, shops are closing, and people are looking desperately for work? Read on …

Newsday and the Chicago Tribune: See the article in today’s Newsday and Chicago Tribune after I had a nice talk with John Jeansonne about the need for even more frivolity in sports

Florida Times Union: Mark Woods and I engaged in a similar discussion a few days earlier and you can find it here

Irish Tennis’ On the Line: Other nations are playing even more sports and learning about sports psychology. See my new article in Ireland’s top tennis publication, “On the Line” about sports psychology for kids

Speaking Engagements: I’ve been invited to deliver more speeches than ever recently. The consensus seems to be that sports should thrive even more in times of economic downturn as it serves a vital need in society to keep our spirits up. It was a pleasure this week to speak to the Palm Beach Flager Rotary meeting about coping with stress in these tough financial times. After the speech, I received the following endorsement from Stephen Millier, and thank him greatly for the invite and the quote:

John F Murray delivered a captivating talk at the Palm Beach Flagler Rotary breakfast meeting.
In these uncertain times, Stress was the topic of the day, John covered the topic in an interactive
manner engaging the entire group and leading to a lively discussion. We hope to have John F
Murray speak to us again. Stephen Miller, Speaker Chairperson, Palm Beach Rotary, January, 2009

It was also fun to deliver separate talks this week to almost 300 golfers and 30 tennis players at the Ibis Golf and Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens. I’ll be in touch soon with those details. Keep your schedules free for our February 21 workshop in Princeton, New Jersey. Contact me for details about that half day sports psychology seminar.

In sum, sports are not only surviving … they are … well … like what Joe Dimaggio represents in the song line “where have you gone Joe Dimaggo” … what we often turn our “lonely eyesâ€? to first in our times of greatest need.

All the Best!
John F. Murray, PhD
139 North County Road Suite 18C
Palm Beach, Florida 33480
Tel: 561-596-9898
Fax: 561-805-8662
www.JohnFMurray.com

Dr. Murray’s “high performance psychology” helps people in a variety of challenging situations in business, sports, academics and life. He is a best-selling author & columnist, and a frequent speaker and seminar leader. His commentary appears almost daily in the media. For example, Dr. Murray recently contributed to the Boston Globe, NY Times, LA Daily News, and Newsday, and he appeared as an expert on Fox Television, MSNBC and ABC Good Morning America.