Posts Tagged ‘sports psychologist’

Hall of Fame NFL QB Warren Moon: Psychology Helped Me Achieve Greatness

Sports psychology – Newsday – Bob Glauber – September 7, 2009 – Ex-Vikings QB Moon says therapy helped him cope – In his upcoming book, the Hall of Famer credited secret therapy sessions in Minneapolis for finding the root of his unhappiness.

Warren Moon would wait until the end of the day before sneaking into the back entrance to the office building. Twice each week, the Minneapolis psychologist would give Moon the last appointment so no one would discover that an NFL quarterback was in therapy.

But it was during those sessions that Moon, who was playing for the Vikings at the time, would begin to unravel the reasons behind his unhappiness.

“I’d go Tuesday and Fridays, and I’d always go at the end of the day so no one would see me in the stairway,” Moon recalled during a recent interview. “Confidentiality was a big thing with me, but once I got past that, I was able to open up and talk about myself.”

And it was then that he discovered how much had built up inside him through the years.

There was the overwhelming feelings of responsibility for his mother and six sisters after his father died of liver disease when Moon was only 7.

The stress of dealing with suggestions that he was not smart enough to pursue his dreams of becoming an NFL quarterback.

The acrimonious dissolution of his first marriage.

“When my dad passed away, I took a lot of responsibility and probably matured a lot faster because I was so caught up with being the ‘man of the house’ with my sisters and my mom,” said Moon, who learned to cook, sew and clean the house to help his mother, Pat, a full-time nurse. “Football was a way for me to make it in order to take care of my family. I never really paid any attention to me, except for the kind of football player I wanted to be.”

Even after Moon became successful at every level he competed at, the personal issues still gnawed at him. But during more than a decade of soul-searching, Moon finally has come to terms with himself — not just as the first black quarterback to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but also as a man.

He hopes that by sharing his experiences, he can help other pro athletes with similar struggles. Moon’s autobiography, “Never Give Up on Your Dream: My Journey,” details his experiences during a lifetime of personal and professional challenges.

“One of the things I learned from this whole experience is that you need to deal with yourself first,” said Moon, who has since remarried. “If you do that, you’ll be a better person to be around for others.”

He strongly believes therapy would be of similar help to other athletes.

“I would suggest to any player that if he can get past the confidentiality part of it, especially male athletes who try to be these stoic figures, where nothing bothers us and we can conquer the world,” Moon said. “Address your feelings. Address your emotions. It will be a much more freeing experience in life, which will help you to be better to others around you.”

Another message from the book: “Anything you do in life is going to be tough, but anybody who has been successful will go through tough times.”

Moon’s challenge was to care for his family the best way he knew how: by throwing a football. He grew up in an era in which college and professional coaches and scouts viewed black quarterbacks with skepticism, often recommending that they switch to running back or wide receiver because they weren’t considered intelligent enough to play quarterback.

Moon had to overcome those stereotypes at every level. He had to spend a year in junior college before being offered a scholarship at the University of Washington. After going undrafted by the NFL, he played in the Canadian Football League for six years, winning five championships for the Edmonton Eskimos. Finally, in 1984, he signed with the Houston Oilers and wound up playing 17 NFL seasons for the Oilers, Seahawks, Vikings and Chiefs.

He never spoke publicly about it until now.

“There were two reasons I didn’t talk about it,” Moon said. “One, it was painful. My thing was, as a quarterback and being a stoic figure, I acted like nothing bothers me. I’m bigger than that. Another reason is because I didn’t want to seem like I was using it as an excuse.”

So why talk now?

“It’s important to acknowledge it,” he said. “There are just not a whole lot of us [black quarterbacks] out there, and I knew I’d have to be better and make sure I watched any move on or off the field.

“[Former Bucs and Redskins quarterback) Doug Williams and I were able to help open doors for the next generation. We were pioneers in that. So many African-American quarterbacks are playing now because of the way we played during our time. That’s important to me.”

Moon’s message to others: Live the dream.

“My story is about a guy who didn’t come from a whole lot,” he said. “I had to live through racism and a lot of other stuff, but I was still able to accomplish my dream. People out there struggling to find theirs can do it, too.”

I hope you enjoyed this article focused on sports psychology.

Travel Videos with Sports Psychologist Dr. John F Murray

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Media YouTubes of Dr. John F Murray

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Hall of Famer Vissser to Write Epilogue for Upcoming Football Psychology Book

Special to JohnFMurray.com – Hall of Fame sports broadcaster Lesley Visser recently agreed to write the epilogue for an upcoming book published by World Audience in New York City and authored by Palm Beach clinical and sports psychologist Dr. John F. Murray titled “The Mental Performance Index: Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History.” Murray’s previous best-selling book was Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game.

In his new book, to be released in 2010, Murray will unleash his patented MPI system of rating a football team’s performance on a scale of 0 to 1 (like a baseball batting average), including crucial mental factors in the rating such as pressure performance and reduction of mental errors.

The Mental Performance Index (MPI) was extremely accurate over six years of pilot testing in making overall performance explicit in the NFL playoffs, and this data allowed Murray to say more or less how the teams would perform in 5 of 6 Super Bowls and to beat the spread in 4 of 6. For this book, Murray is rating every play in Super Bowl history to produce the data, ranking every team from 1 to 88, showing the actual data, and announcing the best and most dominant team ever.” Many other interesting questions will be answered such as, what is really more important to winning the big game, offense or defense, or something entirely different?

“I’m extremely fortunate to have a superstar and extremely nice person in Lesley Visser to write the epiloge, said Murray. It will greatly enhance an already exciting book and be icing on the cake by a broadcasting legend who has covered most Super Bowl games in history. Visser was recently awarded as the top female sports broadcaster in history. She adds a rare and extremely informed perspective that I’m delighted to be able to share with the world in this book. It’s not surprising that the publisher has a name like World Audience, said Murray with a chuckle, because the world will indeed be audience to an audacious approach in this book, an approach based on precision and thinking outside the box.”

Murray expects people to learn more about the MPI and pay much more attention to the mental game in anything they do after reading this book. “Readers will never quite view football or other sports the same,” stated the sports psychologist once dubbed ‘The Freud of Football’ by the Washington post. “Readers don’t even have to love football to appreciate this because the principle of performing well mentally is necessary in any high-demand situation. We all expect that the interest from fans, coaches, players and media will be overwhelming.”

The author believes that the fun controversy of arguing over which team was best, as well as the learning that will take place in this spirit of healthy competition, will advance the sport for everyone. “Let each city argue over whether their which team was the best, but the truth will become clear with the MPI data analysis,” explained Murray.

Every year after the Super Bowl game, new MPI ratings will determine whether that year’s winner just became the best team overall, or if they did not it will show exactly where they fit in the hierarchy of all teams who have participated. Starting in 2010 teams will be playing two Super Bowls, the regular Super Bowl, and the “Super Bowl of Super Bowls” to see if their team can become overall champ. “This might be the first book in history that never ends, added Murray, as a new chapter will be added to the book at the end of every football season with the new data that emerges! Teams will have a chance to be crowned Super Bowl champion for that particular year, but also crowned Super Bowl champion of all time.”

The logic behind why the system was accurate in forecasting team performance in the Super Bowls between 2003 and 2008 is clear in retrospect. For the first time the MPI includes something extremely influential in performance, but rarely or probably never measured directly, and that is mental performance. “The mental aspect of performance is quantifiable and very real, said Murray, and it will be clear how this is accomplished by reading this book.”

“I’m extremely fortunate and grateful to Lesley Visser for her willingness to contribute the epilogue to this innovative book which will help everyone become a little less intimidated by mental coaching and sports psychology. It will be much clearer after this book how necessary solid mental training is, and future coaches and players will look back and wonder how they ever survived without it.”

The upcoming book and MPI page are available for review at: http://www.mentalperformanceindex.com.

For more information:

John F. Murray, Ph.D.
139 North County Road Suite 18C
Palm Beach, FL 33480
Tel: 561-596-9898
Fax: 561-805-8662
http://www.JohnFMurray.com

World Audience Publishers and Dr. John F. Murray Reach Formal Agreement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

World Audience Publishers and Dr. John F. Murray Reach Formal Agreement for publication of The Mental Performance Index: Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History

Palm Beach, Fl — August 11, 2009 — New York City publisher World Audience and sports psychologist Dr. John F. Murray have formally completed contractual agreement for publication of Murray’s upcoming book The Mental Performance Index: Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History.

Notice of this upcoming book recently appeared on the publisher’s website (including videos with NFL Films Presents and Dr. Murray talking about the book) at: http://worldaudience.powweb.com//pubs_bks/DrMurray.html and the book will be released in 2010.

Dr. Murray also recently launched weekly podcasts on mental tips on Kiki Vale’s Chicago talk radio show site at:
http://www.kikivale.com/live.php. The archive for the previous three podcasts on “Confidence,â€? Focus,â€? and “Energy Controlâ€? can be heard at: http://www.smartproinsight.com/podcasts.htm

Dr. Murray, a licensed clinical and sports psychologist, helps people in a variety of challenging situations in business, sports, academics and life. In addition to being a best-selling author & columnist, he is a frequent speaker and seminar leader, and his commentary appears almost daily in the media. The Washington Post dubbed Murray “The Freud of Football’ and Tennis Week called him “The Roger Federer of Sports Psychologists.” He has been on national televsion and radio many times discussing ways to help people perform better and live more productive lives.

The new football book will demonstrate more precisely how each Super Bowl team in history performed using Murray’s trademarked Mental Performance Index (or MPI), which for the first time quantifies overall football team performance with one simple statistic on a scale of .000 to 1.000, and incorporates mental performance too.

Dr. Murray is available for interviews.

For more information

John F. Murray, PhD
139 North County Road Suite 18C
Palm Beach, Florida 33480
Tel: 561-596-9898
Fax: 561-805-8662
Dr. Murray’s Web Page: www.JohnFMurray.com
Mental Performance Index Page: www.MentalPerformanceIndex.com

Baseball’s Most-Ejected Managers

Sports psychology commentary in Forbes.com – Monte Burke – June 22, 2009 – Sure, home runs and stolen bases are cool, but the ejection of a manager is baseball’s greatest performance art. Two actors (manager and umpire) meet on center stage in front of thousands to kick dirt, toss bases and hats and spit tobacco juice and obscenities into each other’s faces. The fact that we already know exactly how the spectacle will end–with the outstretched arm of an ump–diminishes it not one bit.

Earl Weaver, the fiery, longtime manager of the Baltimore Orioles, was perhaps the art’s most flashy practitioner. While he argued, he furiously pecked the brim of his hat on an umpire like a bird. He once tore up a rulebook and scattered the pages all over the field. In an infamous incident, Weaver was tossed for smoking a cigarette in the dugout. The next day he delivered the lineup card to the ump with a candy cig dangling from his lip. He was tossed again.
In Depth: Baseball‘s Most-Ejected Managers

Legendary as he was, however, Weaver has nothing on Atlanta Braves skipper Bobby Cox, who is the all-time leader in manager ejections, with 143 (which doesn’t even count his two ejections in World Series games). The most recent one? Yesterday, when he was tossed in a game against the Boston Red Sox for arguing balls and strikes, giving him 34 ejections since 2004. “I don’t know why umpires miss strikes,” Cox grumbled after the game.

Behind the Numbers

To determine our list of most-ejected managers, we looked only at who’s been tossed the most since the 2004 season. Our statistics come courtesy of David Vincent, a contributor to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and the author of Home Runs Most Wanted. Cox tops our list by just a hair, over Ron Gardenhire of the Minnesota Twins. But his all-time ejection record may prove unbreakable.

St. Louis Cardinal’s manager Tony LaRussa has the second-highest total of active managers with 78. That’s roughly half of Cox’s all-time total. And LaRussa is only ninth in ejections since 2004, with 11 dismissals. He’ll have to work very hard to catch Cox.

Cox is the Cal Ripken Jr. to Weaver’s Mickey Mantle. The Braves manager lacks flash, but he’s consistent, averaging a little more than five ejections a year in a 27-year career (Weaver, who is No. 4 on the all-time list with 98, averaged almost six a year for 17 seasons). What sets Cox apart is his seemingly shorter fuse: He’s been tossed mostly for arguing balls and strikes, but last August a dismissal came for something as simple as arguing with ump Joe West about turning on the stadium lights.

A fiery manager can be an asset more than a liability at times. Last August, with his team down 4-3 to the Chicago White Sox, The Twins’ Gardenhire was booted for arguing about a hit batsman. As he steamed off the field, he punted his hat 15 feet into the air. The Twins then rallied to win game.

“I hope [Vikings head coach Brad Childress] saw that,” Gardenhire said later. “If he ever needs a kicker, I got good height on it.”

No. 3 on the list is Charlie Manuel from the world champion Philadelphia Phillies, with 21 ejections. A late-season ejection last year was followed by the Phillies winning the National League East, then going on to win the World Series.

Does getting ejected have a material effect on the team’s play? Perhaps. Including Cox and Manuel, seven of the 11 men on our list have won the World Series: the Red Sox’s Terry Francona, the Chicago White Sox’s Ozzie Guillen, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Mike Scioscia (all tied for sixth place), the Cardinals LaRussa (ninth) and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Joe Torre (tied for 10th).

Two others, the San Francisco Giants Bruce Bochy (fifth) and the Tampa Bay Rays’ Joe Maddon (tied with Torre) have taken teams to the World Series. On our list, only Gardenhire and the Cleveland Indians’ Eric Wedge (tied for third) have not taken a team to the World Series.

Rallying Cry?

Ejections have had short-term positive effects, too: Lou Piniella, who surprisingly didn’t make this list (he only has six ejections since 2004), had a famous blowup and ejection on June 2, 2007 against the Braves, when his Chicago Cubs were a disappointing 22-30. He kicked dirt on the third-base umpire’s shoes and kicked his hat across the diamond as the crowd bellowed “Loooooooo!” The Cubs went 63-47 the rest of the way and made the playoffs.

Then again, ejections can have no impact whatsoever. At the time of Cox’s ejection last August, the Braves were 55-63 and on the verge of being eliminated from playoff contention. After his tossing, they went 17-27 the rest of the season and missed the postseason.

Says John F. Murray, a sports performance psychologist: “The managerial ejection is a way to change the tempo of a game, a very tactical way of delaying and distracting.”

It’s certainly been a useful tool in the careers of most of the managers on our list. But frequent ejections can also be a sign of serious trouble. Former Milwaukee Brewers manager Ned Yost would have been on our list of active managers, with 18 ejections since 2004, but he was fired in September 2008. Former Colorado Rockies skipper Clint Hurdle and former Houston Astros manager Phil Garner also would have made the list, with 14 and 13 ejections, respectively, but they, too, were canned. These guys lost their cool–then lost their jobs.

Hope you enjoyed the comments from sports psychology.

Wimbledon 2009: Can Middle England learn to love Andy Murray?

Sports psychology commentary – Sunday Telepgraph – June 21, 2009 – William langley – Andy Murray is the brightest Wimbledon hopeful Britain has produced for decades. Even if he triumphs, winning over the public will be trickier.

Ever since he emerged, slab-chopped and scowling, beneath a jungle of greasy curls, Andy Murray, the nation’s brightest tennis star, has been frightening opponents – but also a substantial segment of the British public and the advertisers who ought to be making him rich.

Around Glasgow-born Andy hung an air of alienation and charmlessness, which suggested that he could never take over from Tim Henman as the once-a-year darling of Middle Britain. Even Tim stopped being nice when the subject of 22-year-old Andy came up. “He’s a miserable git,” sniffed the former British number one. (He later insisted he was joking and that the two are friends.)

The refashioning of Andy’s image was never going to be easy, but last week offered an intriguing glimpse of how the project is being handled. Groomed, buffed and with his zits airbrushed out, the player was introduced as the new ”face” of Fred Perry sportswear.

The venerable company’s marketing director, Richard Martin, claimed that Andy had “worked closely with the design team” to create a classic new range of tennis kit launched in homage to Fred – Britain’s last Wimbledon men’s champion – who was born 100 years ago last month.

Although the extent of Andy’s design contribution remained uncertain, marketing experts were broadly impressed. “Fred Perry is one of the few English brands to support Murray,” says Geoff Woad of Brand Republic, “but it is a good fit for the company.”

The tailored shorts and smart, Gatsby-esque cable knits were a big improvement on Andy’s earlier grungy look, but the deal raised the question of whether, by invoking a direct comparison with Fred, the all-English hero of the 1930s, it was placing unrealisable expectations on a man of a strikingly different nature.

The raffish, cosmopolitan Perry, who dated Marlene Dietrich before marrying American movie star Helen Vinson, was a Renaissance man – knowledgeable, refined and at ease in almost any company.

Murray, as someone who knows – and admires – him, put it last week, “is not a deeply cultured individual. He doesn’t read books, doesn’t have any other interests. He just plays tennis, and that’s all that matters to him.”

So what? Britain has been yearning for a home-grown Wimbledon men’s champion since Perry’s last win in 1936 against a sinister German, Baron Gottfried von Cramm. Far from worrying about how often he smiles and which brand of kit he wears, some experts fear the campaign to soften his image may actually damage his game.

“I like Andy just the way he is,” says Dr John Murray, a former US tennis professional, now .one of the world’s foremost sports psychologists.

“He’s quiet, he’s low-key, but he’s basically a nice guy. He has good people around him. The public doesn’t always see him this way, and it’s maybe understandable that he wants to have a different image, but what you don’t try to change is the character.

“You work within the character. Ultimately, you’ve got to be yourself, and to realise that the greatest endorsement of being yourself is winning.”

Murray’s ascent to the big time, four years ago, appeared to catch tennis unawares. Here was a boy with none of the obvious polish or reassuring wholesomeness of previous British standard-bearers such as Roger Taylor, John Lloyd or Henman.

These were chaps the establishment felt comfortable with; who, even if they didn’t win much, at least held the line against the brattishness and narcissism eating at the game’s heart.

The Scotsman had the talent, but he appeared to be wreathed in Caledonian gloom, and when – jokingly, he now claims – he made disparaging remarks about the English, much of his potential fan base switched off.

Murray appeared bewildered by the hostility. He’d had a sheltered, but not comfortable upbringing – a child of divorced parents, whose primary schooling had been disrupted by the 1996 Dunblane massacre. He’d noticed the nice guys losing, and formed his own conclusions.

“How often have you seen me smash my racket on court?” he asked. “I know I say things I probably shouldn’t say, but I’m not stumbling out of nightclubs or throwing up in front of the paparazzi.”

Last year he hired Stuart Higgins, a former Fleet Street editor, whose public relations company offers “crisis management support” for public figures.

One of the player’s close associates says: “It was a case of Andy, himself, realising that he couldn’t carry on as this kind of Harry Enfield’s Kevin character and that there was a real value to looking right and having the crowd on his side.

“He’s listened to people, understood his problem, and become more confident and mature. He’s still prickly with the media, because he’s been stung, but I’ve seen him away from the court, working with kids, out with his family, and he’s really OK.”

The stakes are high. According to the American magazine Sports Illustrated, Roger Federer, the world’s most successful player, earned an estimated $35 million last year – more than two-thirds from commercial deals with companies such as Rolex, Gillette and Nike.

Even Maria Sharapova, who hasn’t won a major title since Wimbledon in 2004, pocketed $21 million. Federer has charm and Sharapova glamour – high among the qualities advertisers cherish. The Scotsman, to put it bluntly, has struggled to display either.

Not that he’s scratching around for the price of a pack of oatcakes. Last week Murray bought a £5 million, mock-Regency house in Surrey with a swimming pool, where he is expected to live with his 21-year-old girlfriend, Kim Sears. Even so, for a world number three, his off-court earnings are believed to be relatively modest, with the bombed-out Royal Bank of Scotland and Highland Spring as his main sponsors.

“Everyone who uses sport stars for commercial endorsements is looking for the Beckham factor,” says an industry source. “That’s the gold standard, but it’s very tough to fulfil, and not something you can easily define other than as a special kind of appeal that reaches across age, class, gender, language, frontiers, everything.”

An early blunder was declaring, during the 2006 World Cup, that he supported “anyone but England”, prompting some English tennis fans to declare that they would support “anyone but Murray”. During last year’s Wimbledon, after dispatching Richard Gasquet in five sets amid much fist-pumping, Andy flaunted and caressed his muscles in what some felt was an unseemly show of vanity.

The “auld enemy” syndrome of Anglo-Scottish rivalry continues to pursue him, and many advertisers remain sceptical of his selling power south of the border. Henman, in pluckily upholding the great British tradition of heroic failure, hit a much surer chord with the shire and suburban types who follow Wimbledon, and was commercially more bankable.

Happily, it may not be too late for the country to learn to love him. “I think he’s a very good boy, really,” says novelist Jilly Cooper. “I love to watch him play, and I don’t understand why everyone is so nasty about him. I am sure that if he wins Wimbledon, we will forget all about him being a bit prickly, or whether he doesn’t like the English, and take him to heart.”

“Andy’s not naturally articulate, although he’s a lot better than he used to be,” believes Telegraph sportswriter Andrew Baker. “You have to realise that he just doesn’t need the crowd in the way that Henman did. He doesn’t play off a crowd, doesn’t milk it in the same way. Andy’s a lot less concerned about how people see him, and his image isn’t so important to him. Having said that, he’s got intelligent people around him who do understand what a valuable commercial property he is.”

At Wimbledon this week, we will get an idea if Andy Murray, all kitted out for the part, is now really ready to play it.

Hope you enjoyed the comments from sports psychology.

Bowden, experts differ on generation gap

Sports Psychology Commentary – Orlando Sentinel – June 27, 2009 – Andrew Carter – Bobby Bowden has been coaching football for more than a half century, the past 33 years at Florida State, and he said recently that he’s often asked one question in particular more than most: How have the athletes changed from generation to generation?

And his answer, he said, is usually the same: They haven’t, really.

“These kids come into my office, players, whether it’s 55 years ago or last week, [a] player walks into my office, I look at him . . . [it’s the] same sweet kid,” Bowden said recently during one of his spring booster tour stops. “Same sweet, innocent boy. You know it? Only his hair his longer. Or he’s got earrings . . . and he wears his underwear outside instead of inside.

“But he’s still the same sweet kid [as] that kid I had 50 years ago.”

Bowden’s opinion notwithstanding, the philosophy and psychology of coaching the athletes of today has become a business — the subject matter of instructional videos, coaching seminars and books. At the 2009 Nike football coaching clinic, held in Orlando in late February, Alabama’s Nick Saban gave two speeches.

One was titled, “3-Deep Matching Zone.” The other: “Coaching Today’s Athlete.”

The idea was to help football coaches better inspire and lead a changing generation. The athletes might be the same at heart, as Bowden believes, but the pressures and expectations surrounding them have changed, experts say.

“The generational profile of today’s kids, they’re so goal-driven they know exactly what they want and what it’s going to take to get there,” said Mike Voight, a Connecticut-based sports-psychology consultant who has worked with teams at USC, Texas and UCF. “But they unfortunately don’t have some of those key coping resources. So once they’re hit with some adversity, some tend to crack.

“And you hear that continuously from the coaches, especially, [that] kids just break down.”

Voight and others who specialize in sports psychology say the athletes of today are more specialized than those in previous generations. They grow up spending Saturday mornings not in a sandlot or in a neighborhood playground, as kids decades ago might have, but instead at camps or on travel teams designed to maximize their potential.

Few athletes enter college with as much pressure as those who play football. Florida State this week welcomed its incoming class of football players. They’re still months away from their first college game but many Seminoles fans have, in some cases, followed their recruitment for years.

As college football recruiting has gained popularity — exposed through fan-driven Web sites affiliated with Rivals.com and Scout.com — the expectations surrounding young players have soared.

“One of the big challenges [in coaching] is that we’re in the information age,” said Dan Mullen, Ole Miss head coach and former Florida offensive coordinator. “A young man that comes in to play in the Southeastern Conference right now for two years has been profiled the whole way through. With the Internet, with all the attention given to these young people, they come in and I think they feel a lot of pressure . . .

“The expectations are so high with today’s athletes that for an 18-year-old, that’s a lot to deal with.”

And, experts say, the current generation — classified as “millenials” — is less equipped to handle such pressure, even if much of it is self-applied. According to Voight, who has led seminars about coaching today’s athletes, dissatisfied college athletes are more likely to transfer schools, complain to the media, lead a coup against a coaching staff, fake injuries to get out of practice and instigate a player mutiny or revolt.

Still, the idea of coaches adapting to fit the needs of their players is still a relatively new concept, Voight said.

“There’s definitely kind of this missed connection,” he said. “Especially the older coaches; you know they’ve done it a certain way for so many years and it’s worked for them so why should I change?”

Bowden isn’t alone in his assertion that athletes haven’t changed much over the years. Asked if players grow up more quickly these days, or if coaching them is somehow different, first-year Auburn Coach Gene Chizik said, “They’re still 18 to 22 years old and they’ve all come from various places and backgrounds and that’s kind of what’s neat about being a coach . . . And I don’t think they’ve changed over the years.”

Experts say that mindset is outdated.

Yet it persists, they say, especially in the world of football — a sport so much defined by its physicality that its mental side might perhaps be overlooked.

“I bang my head against the wall trying to get more and more NFL coaches trying to come around to the idea [of sports psychology],” said John Murray, a noted sports psychologist based in Palm Beach. “I think there’s an old mindset that eventually needs to die out.”

If Saban’s seminar is any indication, perhaps the “old mindset,” as Murray described it, is fading.

Rich Brooks, the veteran Kentucky coach, said psychology is more a part of his job than it ever has been. Brooks, who has been coaching more than 40 years, said recently players have become more difficult to coach and that “it’s probably because of the information age and expectation levels.”

“They all come in believing they can play as freshmen,” Brooks said. “They all come in believing that they’re going to play in the NFL. And in reality that ain’t going to happen. So dealing with those expectations, I think, takes a little bit more psychology than it used to in coaching.”

Part of the issue, Voight said, is that the athletes of today are savvier, better connected and less patient. He said the phrase he hears most often from coaches to describe athletes of today is that they arrive on campus “with a sense of entitlement.”

Yet the trend of how athletes have changed over the years is difficult to quantify, Voight said.

One thing that has changed, Bowden said, is the parental responsibility placed on coaches. He told a story during the booster meeting about a parent who’d complained to him after one of his players had found trouble.

Bowden’s response: “You had him 18 years. I had him two.”

“You go back to your youth, how your parents raised you — made you go to school, made you go to church, made you do this and that,” Bowden said. “They don’t do it anymore. They don’t do it anymore.”

He told the crowd that the players hadn’t changed but that the parents had — and that they needed to get better. Those in attendance applauded.

Another contribution from sports psychology.

With smarts, grace, this female sportscaster broke down barriers

SI.com – Jeff Pearlman – Pearls of Wisdom – She covered her first NFL game in 1976, when the language on media credentials included the sentence NO WOMEN OR CHILDREN IN THE PRESS BOX. Four years later, while working the Cotton Bowl between Nebraska and Houston for The Boston Globe, she was stared down by Cougars coach Bill Yeoman in the victorious post-game locker room. “I don’t give a damn about no Equal Rights Amendment!” he screamed. “I ain’t having a woman in my locker room!” Yeoman escorted her out.

“All the cameras shifted from the players to me,” she says. “I went to the top of the Cotton Bowl by myself, sat down and cried.”

When she started at CBS Sports in the late 1970s, network executives were perplexed about what she should wear on-air. “My first jackets were men’s sports coats that they tailored for me and attached a CBS patch near the pocket,” she says. “Ridiculous, right?”

Because she is, by all accounts, as nice as they come, she will not replay all the horror stories from the 1970s and ’80s — the graphic clubhouse gestures (when, in 1989, a New York Jets tight end named Mickey Shuler spotted her entering the locker room, he screamed, “Hey, no f—— women!” She simply waved him off and kept walking); the athletes who wouldn’t give her a second’s time; the fans who refused to take her seriously; the repeated whistles and smirks and tags: Honey. Baby. Love. Cutie.

The mounds of disrespect; of disregard; of disgust. “What kept me going through all the years?” she asks — then pauses for a moment’s reflection. “More than anything, the love of and respect for competition. That’s what it comes down to for me. That’s why I do this.”

In the transient world of televised sports, personalities come and go like failed breakfast cereals. Where in the world is Irv Cross? Joe Montana? Steve Zabriskie? Eric Dickerson? Jerry Azar? Kit Hoover? Meghan McDermott? Emmitt Smith? So much of the medium is based on looks and gimmicks; on catch phrases and ratings, that stability is little more than a meaningless nine-letter word. Today’s hot sideline reporter is tomorrow’s old news. It is what it is — a surface industry. A temporary stroll in the sun.

And then, there is Lesley Visser. The 55-year old. The survivor. She is the one who ignored the words on a credential and overcame Yeoman’s Archie Bunker rant. She’s the one who grudgingly donned the ugly blazers and dealt the taunts and slurs. Nine years ago, when ABC fired Visser as its Monday Night Football sideline reporter, replacing her with the younger, blonder, perkier, sexier Melissa Stark, most thought her career was over. It was a new age in sports television, one where — when it came to women — knowledge and experience ranked a distant second to looks.

Today, Visser is a reporter for CBS Sports, writes a regular column for CBSSports.com and hosts a morning show on WFTL in South Florida. Today, Stark is, eh, uh, somewhere.

“That I’ve lasted,” says Visser, “is one of my greatest accomplishments. Maybe my greatest.” Earlier this week, the American Sportscasters Association named Visser its No. 1 Female Sportscaster, outdistancing a field of 36 finalists that included such standouts as Andrea Kramer, Robin Roberts, Michele Tafoya and Hannah Storm. That the announcement received all the media attention of a John Oates CD release was both unfortunate and, in more than one sense, tragic.

Instead of focusing on Visser’s achievement, the national media zeroed in on the sad, unsavory saga of Erin Andrews, the ESPN reporter who was videotaped naked in her hotel room. Whatever one thinks of Andrews as a professional, each moment devoted to her pitiful plight (and each Google search) takes away from the strides that women like Visser and Gayle Gardner and Christine Brennan made.

Back in the day, the righteous fight was for respectability. Women weren’t objects. Or playthings. Or idiots. Every time a female reporter entered a clubhouse, or asked a thought-provoking question to a chauvinistic jock, or wrote a breathtaking lede, the slow-moving world of sports took another small step toward enlightenment. That was one of Visser’s aspirations then — not to be seen as some sort of trailblazer (which, without question, she is), but as a professional. As an equal. Now, however, thanks to this odd physical obsession over all things Erin Andrews, as well as to the ritualistic hiring of women reporters based first and foremost on looks, we are back in the dark ages. Paging Bill Yeoman. Mr. Bill Yeoman.

Once upon a time, female sports journalists weren’t celebrities to be lusted after. They were simply people who wanted to tell the stories, then step to the side and listen. The goal wasn’t to be seen, or to walk on the ESPY red carpet in a revealing outfit. There were no blogs, no look-at-me antics or low-cut dresses.

Lesley Visser’s goal was to cover sports and go unnoticed. She did it better than anyone.

Nowadays, that seems impossible.

After an Epic Loss, Then What?

Sports psychology material – Wall Street Journal – Darren Everson – When you win the Masters, the Stanley Cup or one of sports’ other grand events, everyone knows what’s next. There are parades to ride in, White House visits to arrange. One of the best-known ad slogans of all time—“I’m going to Disney Worldâ€?—is about the itinerary of champions.

But what about the guys who come in a close second?

Tom Watson, above, on the final round of the British Open in Scotland last week.

There has been a slew of soul-crushing defeats in recent months, from Kenny Perry’s collapse at the Masters in April to Andy Roddick’s epic Wimbledon loss earlier this month to the latest: Tom Watson finishing second at the British Open on Sunday after missing a 10-foot par putt on the 18th hole that would have clinched it.

Earlier this month, Mr. Roddick narrowly lost the Wimbledon title to Roger Federer in the longest fifth set ever played in a Grand Slam final (16-14). Afterward he hung out in New York for a day and a half and had breakfast in his favorite diner, according to his agent. (Mr. Roddick said he didn’t want to talk about it.)
A Drive in the Country

Mr. Perry, who lost the Masters after holding a two-stroke lead with two holes remaining, got up at 5 a.m. a couple of days later and drove around rural Kentucky for three hours because he couldn’t sleep. “Lot of cattle,â€? he said at the time. “Lot of horses.â€?
Losses That Sting

A look at some of the most painful losses in pro sports history.

Mr. Watson, for his part, is getting right back on his horse: He is playing in the Senior British Open, which begins Thursday in Berkshire, England, and says he will play in the U.S. Senior Open next week. Despite getting little rest after losing the Open — “I asked him how he slept, and he said ‘Fitfully, for an hour,’â€? says his caddie, Neil Oxman — Mr. Watson says he never considered taking a week off. “There is still quite a vacuum in the stomach, but this, too, shall pass,â€? he said Tuesday. “Honestly, it’s not the most important thing in life.â€?

Rocco Mediate — who says Mr. Watson “has been and always will be my idolâ€? — knows exactly what his hero is going through. Mr. Mediate, a 46-year-old golfer who has never won a major, lost the 2008 U.S. Open to Tiger Woods on the first sudden-death playoff hole, which followed an 18-hole playoff, which came after Mr. Woods’s 12-foot putt on the final regulation hole to tie.

Going into the tournament, which was held in San Diego, Mr. Mediate had a good feeling about his chances. “A buddy of mine owns a restaurant up in Manhattan Beach, so I told him I’m bringing the trophy home,â€? Mr. Mediate says. “He said, ‘We’ll have a party.’â€?

They had the party, just without the trophy. Mr. Mediate drove to the restaurant but he left the tiny medal he got for second place in the car.

“It still hurts sometimes,â€? Mr. Mediate says.

Disappointment isn’t limited to sports, of course. Al Gore famously grew a beard and gained weight after losing the 2000 presidential election, and singer Kanye West had a profanity-laced fit at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2006 when he didn’t win the best-video award.

But in sports, especially individual games like tennis and golf, losses are far more intensely personal. In most team sports, the end of the season is almost always followed by a ritual get-together. Players trickle into their home arena or stadium to clean out their lockers; in the process, they run into teammates and coaches, chat amiably and say good-bye for the offseason. After a tough loss, this can be a cathartic event — not much different from a wake.

Top athletes in individual sports may have entourages of coaches and trainers — some of whom take losing as personally as they do — but without teammates, they have fewer people to discuss their loss with. Palm Beach, Fla., sports psychologist John F. Murray, who has worked with pro and amateur athletes in all sports, says he often winds up filling that role himself for clients. “I always tell people it’s OK to feel bad for a while, but don’t dwell on it,â€? Mr. Murray says. “Take a day.â€?

Aaron Krickstein needed three. For three days after his classic 1991 U.S. Open loss to Jimmy Connors, he didn’t sleep and “vegetatedâ€? at his Florida home. Mr. Connors, who turned 39 that day, overcame a 5-2 fifth-set deficit to win the nearly five-hour match before a manic, pro-Connors crowd. “I never felt that way after a match in my whole career,â€? says Mr. Krickstein. “I heard I gave an interview afterward, but I was just kind of numb. I don’t know how Tom’s dealing with it, because it’s never going to go away, and he’s probably never going to have a chance like that again.â€?
‘Life Goes On’

Not every defeated athlete slinks off in a daze. “Life goes on,â€? says Mitch Williams, the former Philadelphia Phillies closer who gave up Joe Carter’s clinching home run in the Blue Jays’ 1993 World Series victory. (The Phillies were two outs away from forcing a Game 7.) Mr. Williams said he went back to his hotel just as he would have after any other game. The only thing he did differently was fly straight home to Texas from Toronto, which he says he did to shield his wife from the criticism to come. “She didn’t sign on for all of that stuff,â€? he says.

Maybe it’s just the benefit of hindsight. Or maybe professional athletes are just a different breed of bird. But Mr. Williams says he’s pretty sure Mr. Watson will be fine. “I’m sure Tom will just stick a tee in the ground and go play,â€? he says.

Many benefit today from the tools of sports psychology.