Posts Tagged ‘sports psychology’

2009 Smart Tennis Sport Psychology Workshop

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Palm Beach, Florida and London, England – March 26, 2009 – Sports psychologist Dr. John F. Murray will be conducting the 8th Annual Smart Tennis Sport Psychology Workshop in London, England on the weekend before Wimbledon. Attendees can choose one of two days, Friday June 19 or Saturday June 20, for the full day events held at the prestigious sponsor site, the Sutton Tennis Academy in Surrey. This event is also being sponsored by The Bulldog Club, a company providing the finest bed and breakfast in hand-picked private homes around London.

Dr. Murray will be joined again by London tennis coach Paul Barton of London Tennis and celebrity guests occasionally attend as well. Past attendees include spoon bender Uri Geller, top squash player in the history of India Ritwik Bhattacharya, English tennis pro Barry Cowan and American tennis pro Eric Taino.

Players receive a professional mental skills evaluation, feedback including a complete mental skills profile, one year of mental skills training follow-up, a personally signed copy of Dr. Murray’s book “Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game” (cover endorsed by Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport), entry into a mini-tournament at the end of the day, a group imagery session and much more.

While working with a sports psychologist for a year alone can cost over 10,000 Sterling, the total cost is about 5 Sterling per week for those who attend. In sum, the cost for the full program is 275 Sterling. London Tennis members receive a 25 Sterling discount and tennis pros who bring at least three students are allowed to attend for free. Cost to attend just for the workshop is 99 Sterling (without individual evaluation or one-year of follow-up mental coaching).

For more information or to sign up for one of these exclusive and limited places, please contact Dr. John F. Murray or Paul Barton at:

John F. Murray, Ph.D.
Tel in USA: 561-596-9898
Email: johnfmurray@mindspring.com
Web: www.JohnFMurray.com

Paul Barton
London Tennis Ltd
Tel in UK: 0202 8789 0482
Mobile: 07961 170675
Email – paul@londontennis.co.uk
Web: www.londontennis.co.uk

Race for No. 1: It’s all in the mind

The Times of India – Times News Network – Partha Bhaduri -As India and SA resume battle to replace Australia as the world’s best cricket team, psychologists believe mental skills will hold the key

Baseball legend ‘Yogi’ Berra once ambiguously remarked how ‘‘sport is 90% mental, the other half is physical’’, but how much of a game is actually won or lost in the mind? Interestingly, some leading sports psychologists across the globe say the answer to who will usurp Australia’s crown and become cricket’s next No. 1 team might lie in the minds of the players themselves. They believe the churning in the game’s order of dominance has been brought about by India and South Africa’s clarity of vision, even as the declining Aussies continue to lose cohesion due to frequent changes in personnel. Dhoni and Graeme Smith’s squads, say psychologists, are on a ‘confidence-performance spiral’: a rare occurrence in team sport in which the uncluttered minds of in-form individuals creates a ‘modelling effect’ on the rest, boosting performance and making the team well-placed to win the key moments. It’s here that skill sets are put to the test: this ‘spiral’ is what motivates a team member to play above himself in a tight situation.

Agree or not, it’s an interesting debate which stretches across the full spectrum of sport — Roger Federer’s travails against Rafael Nadal are a case in point — but instant-reaction team games like cricket are as dependent on individual ‘situational’ factors as, say, tennis is. Batsmen out of form push at the ball harder because their mind is confused and muscles tense, denying the team crucial momentum. Conversely, like in Dhoni and Gary Kirsten’s case, smart captaincy or coaching can induce confidence and team harmony, leading to a winning run.

For example, within 18 months of Roger Bannister’s breakthrough sub-four-minute mile run in 1954, 16 other athletes followed suit. Did they suddenly get faster and train harder? No. Bannister had simply breached the psychological barrier and runners were no longer limited by their minds. By shredding Australia’s long-perceived aura of invincibility, India and SA might have created a similar ripple effect in cricket.

Renowned sport performance expert John F. Murray, the ‘Roger Federer of sports psychology’ who first introduced the concept of the MPI or ‘Mental Performance Index’ in sport and helped Vincent Spadea recover from one of the longest losing streaks in tennis history — 21 games — and climb from No. 229 to No. 18 in the rankings, spies some interesting mental battles currently underway in cricket.

He says Australia, hampered by the retirement of a clutch of once-in-a-generation players, are ‘‘trying too hard and becoming overly aware of their struggles, leading to lower confidence, changes in strategy and an attempt to force things’’. He suggests such teams need to look at “specific, individual mental ratings and performance-related factorsâ€? to boost team results. India, on the other hand, are on the cusp of building a ‘collective aura’ in New Zealand — much like SA are at home — with Dhoni’s clarity of thought and flexible strategies, along with a clutch of ‘champion mentality’ players, creating a bold and aggressive approach.

‘‘Winning habits are initiated in the brain. The difference between individual and team sport is actually less than it appears on the surface,’’ Murray told TOI, ‘‘Players with the champion mentality can rise above external distractions. This is not to suggest team harmony or smart coaching is not effective. Coaches can turn teams around mentally and conversely, a coaching change can also be disastrous for a well-oiled outfit. But individuals foster team habits. Players who don’t perform well negatively influence others.’’ Winning teams, suggests Murray, develop “resilienceâ€? and “consistent visualization routines,â€? helping them to turn a game around from impossible situations.

Dr Bob Grove of the School of Sport Science at the University of Western Australia believes Australia are suffering from ‘‘paralysis-by-analysis’’ because they are a team in transition. ‘‘Australia had a high benchmark. Sports performers in general tend to be concrete thinkers who believe the harder you try, the better you do. But paying attention to every little detail can be counterproductive. Also, with so many new players coming in, you can’t really expect the same degree of personal comfort and group-level confidence in Australia anymore.’’ Mental attitude, in essence, is more important than mental capacity, explaining why India’s natural strokeplayers like Sehwag and Yuvraj can play with such arrogant freedom. This is where Grove believes India and SA are getting the mental basics right: ‘‘In a fastpaced, reactive sport like cricket, it isn’t possible to focus on more than two key elements of a skilled physical performance. ‘Uncluttered’ doesn’t mean ‘blank’, it means focusing on one or two aspects of the skill. In time, this permeates through a group.’’

This is the ‘confidence-performance spiral,’ but it’s not just pure instinct. In New Zealand, where conditions are unfamiliar to more than half the squad, the collective mindset could play a crucial role. India’s move to induct five pacers has found favour from psychologists as it suggests a bold, confident approach. Murray, however, warns: ‘‘No team can remain static or it will fall by the wayside.’’

Since top-level sport is mostly in the mind, why do teams, or individuals, still slip up on the mental aspects? Former cricketerturned-psychologist Jeremy Snape, who helped JP Duminy with ‘visualisation’ skills before the Australia series, told TOI: ‘‘Duminy was thinking he wouldn’t get a game, so we prepared him as if he was playing the first Test. As luck would have it, (Ashwell) Prince broke his thumb and Duminy was ready. I think we have separated the mind and technical aspects for too long. The best coaches of the future will unlock habits and potential more effectively. The players need more coping skills in this increasingly pressurised atmosphere but they seem to be training in the same old ways. Coaching styles play a role in the motivational climate.’’ India and SA have managed distractions well, but whose trained instincts will shine through better? Who will set limits on their thoughts first, and stumble? That will be the key to which team dominates in the long run.
Partha Bhaduri, Times of India

OFFSIDES BEYOND THE GAME – The Pregame Speeches

Tampa Tribune – January 31, 2009 – Brett McMurphy – Knute Rockne pleaded to his Notre Dame Fighting Irish to “win one for the Gipper.”

John “Bluto” Blutarsky used a much different approach, asking his Delta Tau Chi members if it was over “when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.”

Although both were successful, neither motivational speech has been uttered in a Super Bowl locker room, not that we’re aware of, anyway.

So what does a head coach actually say to his team minutes before they play in the biggest game of their lives?

It all depends on who you ask.

SHULA’S SUPER BOWLS: III, VI, VII, VIII, XVII, XIX

No one has been a head coach in more Super Bowls than Don Shula. So what better expert on pregame Super Bowl speeches than the coaching legend who took six teams to pro football’s ultimate game?

“What you try to do is do the things that got you to where you are,” Shula said. “You don’t want to be someone that you’re not. The thing I tried to do is summarize what it took to get there.”

Shula also reminded his team there will be only one winner.

“Once you reach the Super Bowl, both teams are talked about during the week,” Shula said. “But when the game is over, [the media] only go to one locker room. I told them to make sure it was our locker room.”

As a head coach, Shula was in the winning locker room twice and in the losing locker room four times. After losing Super Bowl VI, Shula delivered the same message to his team from the first day of practice until minutes before Super Bowl VII kicked off.

“We lost the year before, so my message from the beginning of training camp was that our goal wasn’t to get to the Super Bowl,” Shula said. “Our goal was to win it.”

His 1972 Miami Dolphins did just that. The Dolphins defeated the Washington Redskins 14-7 in Super Bowl VII. Not only did the Dolphins make good on Shula’s goal, they also capped the only perfect season in NFL history.

SUPER BOWL XXXV: BALTIMORE 34, N.Y. GIANTS 7

After the Baltimore Ravens set the NFL record for fewest points allowed during the 2000 regular season, Coach Brian Billick knew if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. His message before the Ravens ran onto the Raymond James Stadium turf for Super Bowl XXXV was brief.

“He said to approach this like any other game,” said Peter Boulware, a four-time Pro Bowl selection and the 1997 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year from Florida State.

“We took a very businesslike approach. That’s what helped us. We didn’t get tight. We just worked the same way.”

Despite the Ravens’ dominating defense, they still had their doubters. At least, they believed there were doubters as they used the always popular no-respect card.

“No matter how good you are, you always think you’re being disrespected,” Boulware said. “You just have to find one person, one writer, one broadcaster that doesn’t think you can win. And then all of sudden it’s no one is giving us a chance.

“And it’s funny looking back at it, because even if it isn’t true and you do get the respect, it still motivates you to do better.”

SUPER BOWL XXXVII: TAMPA BAY 48, OAKLAND 21

Ryan Nece couldn’t play in the Bucs’ only Super Bowl. He was sidelined for the 2002 season with a left knee injury in late October. But Nece was in San Diego in the locker room before the Bucs’ historic win under Jon Gruden.

“Coach Gruden always was a great pregame [speech] guy. He was always good,” Nece said.

“I remember him saying, ‘This is the time of your life,’ and, ‘Go out and take what’s ours. It’s destiny. Just go out there and take what is ours.’

“We all believed in our mind we would win the game. That’s what he preached all week, telling the guys to really enjoy every moment of it. Take in the national anthem, take it all in. It’s the greatest stage.”

Nece said the key for any speech is respect.

“There’s definitely a place [for a motivational speech], but it’s all how much the players respect the coach,” Nece said. “If guys are just out there and don’t respect the coach, they’re not going to ‘win one for the Gipper’ or anything like that.”

SUPER BOWL XX: CHICAGO 46, NEW ENGLAND 10

Coach Mike Ditka didn’t wait until Sunday to provide his Super Bowl pregame speech. He delivered it to the Bears the night before the game.

“I gave the speech on Saturday night,” Ditka said. “Basically I said this was not about me and not about the city of Chicago. I told them this is the one memory you will have of each other for the rest of your lives.”

And what a memory it was: The Bears danced all over the Patriots in what was then the biggest rout in Super Bowl history.

“I told them you won’t remember the money, but you’ll remember the championships,” Ditka said. “Because it was a special group of guys that bonded and made something special happen. That 1985 team was a very unique group of men.”

NOLL’S SUPER BOWLS: IX, X, XIII, XIV

The Steel Curtain. Lambert. Bradshaw. Harris. Swann. Bleier. Stallworth. With that core group there probably wasn’t much Pittsburgh coach Chuck Noll needed to say before each of the Steelers’ four Super Bowl trips in a six-year span in the 1970s.

“It’s a coach-by-coach thing,” former Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann said. “Tony Dungy, who had his team in the Super Bowl, I don’t know what kind of speech Tony gives, but when you look at his demeanor you don’t see a fire-and-brimstone type of guy. You see a guy that’s very focused that can communicate without having to shout and scream. We can all imagine Bill Cowher and what that locker room might have been like before Super Bowl XL or Super Bowl XXX.

“Chuck was a very level, low-key kind of guy, not a fire-and-brimstone type of guy. Very directed in terms of what he wanted to get done. We didn’t get those type of speeches from Chuck Noll.

“But we didn’t lose a Super Bowl, either.”

THE SPORTS PSYCHOLOGIST

For the past 25 years, John F. Murray has been involved in the motivational aspect of sports. As a sports-performance psychologist, he has worked with athletes on performance enhancement, mental health, general psychology, fitness, wellness and lifestyle. Murray, who lives in Palm Beach, has been a licensed psychologist in Florida since 1999.

Murray said the pregame pep talk or motivational speech at the NFL level can be very effective – or disastrous.

“I think it’s never going to go away,” Murray said. “Certain coaches have a certain way of saying the right thing at the right time or the wrong thing at the wrong time. You can’t discount the impact of a leader.”

Murray said the pregame speech is “an inexact science.”

“The team that gets too hyped has a disadvantage in the Super Bowl,” Murray said. “One of the more traditional theories is when you get too pumped up, you don’t perform well. I think the lower-key approach at the Super Bowl, a more cerebral, intelligent approach, might be the more effective approach.”

“Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”

Photo credit: The Associated Press

Photo: Mike Ditka’s Bears made lasting memories, just as he wanted them to.

Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

Photo: John Belushi had quite a way with words in “Animal House.”

Photo: Knute Rockne

Photo credit: McClatchy/Tribune

Photo: Jon Gruden told his Bucs to “take what’s ours.”

Photo: Brian Billick

Photo: Shula had a lot of practice making Super Bowl speeches. He coached in six and won two.

Photo credit: Miami Herald

Photo: Don Shula got the ride of his life after his undefeated Dolphins beat the Redskins in January 1973.

Photo: Quarterback Terry Bradshaw was one of many great players Chuck Noll had on his Pittsburgh teams of the 1970s.

Fitness Magazine Covers Dr. Murray’s Walk Therapy

Palm Beach – February 16, 2009 – First it was the ancient Greeks who did it all the time, then the Wall Street Journal and National Post of Canada wrote about what Dr. Murray was doing with clients in Palm Beach, and in this month’s March 2009 issue of Fitness Magazine, Holly Corbett talks with Dr. John and espouses the benefits of mental health professionals walking and exercising with their clients!

You can read this Fitness Magazine article about a very healthy and therapeutic activity at this link

After a Forgettable Loss, Terps Need Short Memory

Washington Post – Steve Yanda – January 27, 2009 – The visiting locker room at Cameron Indoor Stadium was open to reporters for roughly 10 minutes Saturday following the fourth-worst loss in Maryland men’s basketball history, more than twice as long as usual after a loss.

After falling to Duke by 41 points, Maryland Coach Gary Williams allowed his players to face questions no 18- to 22-year-old wants to answer. How did this happen? How did it get this bad? Where do you go from here?

Minutes earlier, Williams addressed similar queries. The Terrapins (13-6, 2-3 ACC) had two days to recover before tonight’s matchup at home against Boston College (15-6, 3-3), and the tone with which Williams approached his players in the aftermath of such a stinging defeat will play a crucial role in how his team will recover.

“That’s part of being an athlete and being a coach is getting embarrassed and then being able to come back,” Williams said Saturday. “That makes us 2-3 in the league, I believe, and we have two home games next week and we’ll be ready to play Tuesday night. At this point, that’s the key: getting back and being ready to play on Tuesday night.”

There are some, such as Boston College Coach Al Skinner, who believe — at least publicly — that the happenings in one game, no matter how positive or negative they may be, do not carry over into the next. And in an ideal, competitive environment, that theory would hold true.

But according to John F. Murray, a sports psychologist based in Palm Beach, Fla., the team aspect of basketball prevents its participants from completely setting aside previous outcomes when preparing for future opponents, even if doing so would serve them best.

“You have to realize that it is just one game and maybe not try to reverse it completely, but try to be more competitive,” Murray said. “That kind of an outcome, you weren’t even competitive. Something went terribly wrong. You can’t put that completely out of your mind, perhaps, but you have to focus on each game individually. I think all players are subject to thinking about the past, even though, ideally, you’re not supposed to. It probably does leave somewhat of a scar until you’re able to turn it around.”

Michigan State fell to then-No. 1 North Carolina by 35 points in Detroit on Dec. 3, a loss that left players and coaches feeling angry, concerned and embarrassed, according to Spartans associate head coach Mark Montgomery. But, Montgomery said, the coaches knew that employing a positive front when dealing with the players was their best chance at getting them to move beyond the defeat.

As soon as Michigan State’s bus returned to East Lansing, the Spartans held a team meeting in the locker room in which each player had to come up with a way in which the team could improve its performance. After an hour, the coaches left, but the players remained to talk among themselves. Montgomery knew then the staff had struck the proper chord.

“That’s the toughest thing as a coach,” Montgomery said. “You’ve got to figure out what tone you want to take with your guys — the hard approach or more of an understanding. I think we took more of an understanding approach, but we were firm that we’ve got to do this better or we didn’t do this.”

Montgomery acknowledged that while players should be unaffected by previous outings, their confidence — “swagger,” as he put it — can be shaken by a poor performance during a previous outing. A swift turnaround, then, is vital. Michigan State, currently ranked No. 9, won 11 straight games following the loss to North Carolina.

But that defeat came during nonconference season. Maryland was not so fortunate. In addition to having less time to correct their flaws, the Terrapins must also prepare for a higher caliber of opponent.

Murray said that “it can often be helpful to have a good whipping every now and then” because it forces coaches and players to be more accountable. But that implies that a lopsided loss carries at least some weight into future endeavors, a notion Skinner rejects.

Skinner said Sunday he would not address the Terrapins’ previous outing with his team in regard to how it might affect their mentality tonight.

“The fact that it’s a league game and we’re going on the road, we’ve just got to make sure we’re prepared,” Skinner said. “The last game has no impact on the next game. That’s my feeling about it. I don’t look at it either way, whether it works for us or works against us. It’s the same.”

Except it’s not, not for Maryland, anyway. Williams said yesterday he was “very positive” in dealing with his players after the Duke loss. He said he reminded them of how well he thought they had played in their two previous road games and implored them not to dwell on one horrific performance.

When asked whether he thought, at least subconsciously, that the Duke loss would carry over to tonight, Williams lowered his eyes and responded briskly.

“It can’t,” he said. “It can’t. That’s not an option.”

Team’s ‘perfect’ streak should be dunked

More than 30 years ago, as a short, scrawny, Afro-wearing kid at Gonzaga College High School, I earned a spot on the freshman basketball team. Putting on the purple-and-white uniform was the highlight of the year. Because on the court, it was brutal.

We had 18 games against ninth-graders at other local schools. We lost all 18.

We got blown out. We got close enough that a made free throw or timely steal would have ended the streak. It got to the point that  we sensed defeat about the same time we finished our layup drills. It didn’t help that my school competed in the same league with DeMatha and Mackin, two perennial D.C. powerhouses. In the process, I started feeling “less thanâ€?: not measuring up, not self-confident, not competent.

The Lady Spartans must know what I’m talking about.  They’re stuck in a similar funk of full-court failure. This year’s squad has gone 0-fer: In 20 games, the players have racked up 20 L’s. Only seven games remain in the regular season. Second-year coach Tara Owens didn’t return my call to the sports department requesting comment. However, in a Virginian-Pilot article last month, she acknowledged some of the challenges.

Owens threw four players off the squad last year, and two others quit . This year’s squad has five freshmen and four sophomores, so they’re relatively raw. There’s not a lot of height among the players. And the team journeyed to some “guaranteedâ€? road games — guaranteed to bring in money for NSU’s program, but also likely guaranteed to end in another loss.  At the current pace, the squad would relish a chance to equal its five  wins from the 2007-08 campaign.

Yet, Owens still sounded optimistic in the Jan. 15 article: “As long as I can see individuals improving every day, that’s all I can ask.â€?

That’s the proper attitude, said John F.  Murray, a clinical and sports psychologist based in Palm Beach, Fla., who works with pro and amateur athletes. “I’d want to know how hard they worked,â€? Murray told me in a phone interview, after I explained NSU’s plight. “Are they focused? Are they being resilient, not getting down when the other team goes on a streak?â€?

That sounds fine if you’re a Little League team or some high school squad. I asked  whether that  is sufficient on the collegiate and professional levels, where the stakes are higher, reputations and jobs are on the line, and everything is under the media spotlight.

Sure it is, Murray said. Players and coaches need to improve measurable factors — number of turnovers, crisp passes, rebounds — that can lead to intangible rewards, such as teamwork, comebacks,  leadership. Even just having fun is worth playing.

“You have to let go of the conscious fear of winning or losing, and focus on what you have to do right now,â€? he said.  It’s not life and death, after all, if NSU goes winless this season.

It sure would be nice to win, though. There’s a feeling of accomplishment, success, euphoria when you do. Maybe the Lady Spartans can turn it around this afternoon against Delaware State;  last month, NSU lost a close one to DSU. There’s always next season. I should know: By the time I was a senior in high school, playing on the varsity, my basketball team ended up 16-14.

So here’s my Valentine’s Day wish for NSU: a turnaround, soon, in the team’s fortunes.

The Boss won’t mind that show of affection.

Roger Chesley is associate editor of The Pilot’s editorial page

Steve Raebel Interviews Dr. John F Murray

December 3, 2008 – Dr. John F. Murray was interviewed for two hours by Steve Raebel about the field of sports psychology on Blog Talk Radio and you can hear it all now by clicking the play button above.

John F. Murray, Ph.D.
Licensed Clinical & Sport Performance Psychologist
139 North County Road Suite 18C
Palm Beach, Florida 33480
Tel: 561-596-9898
Fax: 561-805-8662
http://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 frequent speaker and seminar leader, and his commentary appears almost daily in the media. 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.

John F Murray Discusses Sports Psychology on Radio

December 10, 2008 – Dr. John F. Murray appeared on Lilian Cauldwell’s radio show last night to discuss the benefits of sports psychology and psychology in general. The interview was 30 minutes and you can hear a replay at: , scrolling to the December 9 interview and clicking on the play button.

John F. Murray, PhD
139 North County Road Suite 18C
Palm Beach, Florida  33480
Tel: 561-596-9898
Fax: 561-805-8662
http://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.

BYU’s’ Quest for Perfection’ questioned by some, praised by others

The Salt Lake Tribune – Jay Drew – November 20, 2008 – PROVO – Along with winning 31 of his last 34 football games, Brigham Young University’s straight-laced, youthful-looking football coach, Bronco Mendenhall, has become rather adept at picking slogans.

You know, those catchy phrases that are often associated with political campaigns, words such as “Raise the Bar” and “Fully Invested.” The McCain campaign could have used this guy.

The success he has had with those notwithstanding, when Mendenhall, after back-to-back 11-2 seasons, rolled out his latest motto for Cougar players and their fans to rally around – “Quest for Perfection” – before the season it was met with more than a few raised eyebrows.

And those astonished looks didn’t just come from rival Utah fans, who enjoy mocking anything that comes out of Provo, almost to the point of obsession. They gleefully proclaimed it couldn’t be done, then gloated far and wide when the Cougars were pummeled by TCU a month ago while their own team continued to cruise along perfectly.

Many BYU fans also questioned the bold approach, even after being told by Mendenhall dozens of times that it was meant to signify a two-pronged quest – the part about living right off the field even more important than going undefeated on the field.

Which brings us to the here and now.

The Utes are perfect (11-0) and the Cougars are close (10-1) heading into Saturday’s

And Mendenhall isn’t apologizing.

“I don’t have any regrets,” he said Monday, while acknowledging that the slogan brought some unintended attention and scorn, in some quarters.

“The intent was to just simply move our program forward.. . . But possibly I could have been wiser to assume where the world is, and where our intent is, because it [has] a dual meaning, and we were [eager] to be great on the field. But as I have said so many times, this is really about who we are trying to become. But to say it didn’t add pressure would be wrong. I think it probably did.”

For their part, BYU’s players have said all season they haven’t minded the approach, and at one point quarterback Max Hall wondered if “Quest for Mediocrity” T-shirts would have been more palatable, but 10 times less provocative.

“Doesn’t every team want to go undefeated?” he said. “Isn’t that everyone’s goal? What’s wrong with just saying it?”

Well, because it is almost impossible to attain – both on the field and off, says John F. Murray Read more »

WHAT IS REAL SPORT PSYCHOLOGY

October 28, 2008 – The public needs to know that there are many people practicing within the field of “Sports Psychology” who lack the proper credentials and/or a good working knowledge of the profession itself. These may try to tackle issues without proper training or licensure. It can harm the public when a proper referral is not made or proper treatment is not conducted.

Did you know that there are generally two types of individuals who may be perceived as Sport Psychologists by the public? Were you aware that a clear distinction needs to be made between them?

The first type (coming primarily from sport science programs) may have taken courses in sport psychology and may be excellent scientists, researchers, or teachers, but they are 99 % of time neither trained nor licensed (the minimum standard of care required by a state) to provide psychological services. They may not hold themselves out to the public as Sport Psychologists in private practice in the vast majority of states. If clinical issues are suspected (e.g., anxiety, depression, anger), they must refer the athlete to a licensed professional (such as a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist) to allow for proper care.

The second group, the practicing Sport Psychologists, are licensed psychologists who are additionally trained in the sport sciences with supervised training in providing both counseling/psychotherapy and performance enhancement services to athletes. These Sport Psychologists offer the benefits of training athletes in performance enhancement while conducting assessments and counseling as needed rather than having to refer the client to another professional.

It is extremely important to ask if individuals who call themselves Sport Psychologists are licensed in their states as psychologists, and then inquire about the extent of their supervised training and experience in working with athletes and teams.

Practicing Sport Psychologists combine two separate academic and experiential backgrounds – psychology and the sport sciences. Proper credentials and training in BOTH disciplines are essential to hold oneself out to the public as a Sport Psychologist. Unless the professional has been trained and experienced in BOTH disciplines, and licensed in psychology, the person is not a true Sport Psychologist and is not permitted to advertise as a Sport Psychologist.

But “just as highly trained sport scientists without proper training and licensure in psychology cannot use the title “Sport Psychologist,” the same holds true for authentic licensed psychologists who have not undergone rigorous and proper training and supervision in the various sport sciences, or who have not received the proper supervision by another legitimate Sport Psychologist.

State laws, you see, prohibit any permutation of the title “psychologist” unless the professional is state licensed. State laws protect the use of the title “psychologist” and only allow licensed psychologists to legally use the title in order to protect the public by establishing a minimum standard of care.

I know why this is wise. I learned almost nothing about how to counsel, assess, or diagnose an athlete with a general problem when I was studying and receiving a Masters degree in one of the best sport science programs in the country. Similarly, while studying in a clinical psychology program, I learned almost nothing about how to improve an athlete’s performance through mental skills training, or how to structure practice conditions. The thousands of hours of supervised training or “on the job” work with hundreds of clients, however, was the critical piece that would have never in 20 years been possible to acquire in a strictly sport science program. While performance principles are key, knowing about people, how to diagnose and treat problems and how to counsel is infinitely more important! Psychology programs are set up to provide that kind of training. Sport science programs are not.

When I am working with an athlete, I find that much of our time is spent discussing and resolving general issues – perhaps even 70% of the work! This goes way beyond mental skills training or performance enhancement. Reducing and resolving problems off the court or field can help an athlete perform better just as much or more than specific mental skills training! I believe that holistic care requires an understanding of both the “person” and the “performer.”

It is important to at least communicate this message to athletes, trainers, players and executives.

According to many reports, pro sports teams are not always giving their athletes the proper care because they do not have the properly trained professionals on board!

In sum, becoming a licensed “Sport Psychologist” is necessary for the individual who wants to handle serious personal or clinical issues, enhance performance through mental skills training, and use the title “Sport Psychologist.” While gaining this extra training takes more time and effort, these professionals are more versatile than either “non-psychologist sport scientists” or “non-sport scientist psychologists.” Licensure also carries its weight in gold in terms of client well being and public safety.

Is this news? Not according to Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated, Selena Roberts of the New York Times, and Dan Weil of Fox Sports. They have all addressed the seriousness of real Sport Psychology in their articles on the subject. They know how important this is.

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