Posts Tagged ‘sports psychology’

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There is a reason why Dr. John F. Murray is the most quoted psychologist in the general media. He has an extremely rare professional and educational background making him an authentic licensed sports psychologist. He also has the experience and enjoys sharing his knowledge with the media as a national spokesman on issues related to psychology and sport psychology. He has appeared as a guest on most of the major television networks (e.g., ABC Good Morning America, the Fox News Channel’s “Your World” with Neil Cavuto and “The Big Story” with John Gibson, MSNBC) and is likely the most frequently interviewed in his field over the past six years, with over 2000 contributions to print and broadcast media. Dr. Murray enjoys talking about high performance and general psychology, sports, relationships at work and home, mental skills such as confidence, focus and goal setting, business issues such as management and leadership, and a variety of other educational and social issues.

“Dr. Murray, thanks for a great appearance on the show”
–Producer of “The Big Story” with John Gibson, FOX National Television

“John….YOU WERE A GREAT GUEST…you played along with our sisters well … Again, great information and the on-air product was WONDERFUL! Thanks.”
–Jennifer Dominguez, Associate Producer, ABC Radio Networks

Below is just a small sample of where Dr. Murray’s insights have appeared. This list was first compiled in 2004 and has probably doubled since that time.

ABC TV Good Morning America
ABC Radio Atlanta
ABC Radio Network (National)
ABC TV West Palm Beach
ABC TV Philadelphia
ABC.net
6ABC.com
ACE Magazine
AFCA.org
Akron Beacon Journal
Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque Tribune
AlphaDeltaGamma.org
am New York
AmericasDoctor.com
AOL Sports
Apria.com
Arizona Daily Sun
Arizona Republic
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Associated Press
AthleticInsight.com
Athletic Management
Atlanta Journal Constitution
AuctionBytes.com
Augusta Chronicle
Augusta Free Press
Axelis.com
AZBilliards.com
The Bahama Journal
Baltimore Sun
BaseballProspectus.com
BBC.com
BBC Radio
Beaumont Enterprise
BenMaller.com
Bergen County Record
BetUs.com
BidRobot.com
BlackAmericaWeb.com
Bloomberg Radio
Bloomberg News Wire
Bob Larson’s Tennis Wire
Boca Raton News
BondMovies.com
Bonita Daily News
Boston Globe
Boulder Daily Camera
Bradenton Herald
BriefMe.com
British Tennis Magazine
BritishTennisParents.com
BuffaloBills.com
Buffalo News
Burlington Hawk Eye
Business.com
Calgary Herald
Canadian National Radio
The Capital (Anapolis, MD)
Casper Star Tribune
CBC News
CBFans.com
CBS Network Radio (National)
CBS Radio Atlanta
CBS SportsLine.com
Chicago Daily Herald
Charleston Daily Mail
The Charleston Gazette
Charlotte Observer
Chicago Tribune
Cincinnati Enquirer
CNET
CNN Radio
CNNSI.com
CollegeAndJuniorTennis.com
Colorado Springs Gazette
CommanderBond.net
The Commercial Appeal
Conditioning & Training Magazine
Contra Costa Times
Cox News Service
The Daily Camera
Daily Comet Thibodaux
Daily Evergreen of WSU
Daily Herald
Daily Journal
Daily Mail of London
Daily Messenger (Canandaigua, NY)
Daily Press
Daily Sentinel of Nacogdoches
The Day
Delaware Parent
Deluth News Tribune
Denver Post
Deseret News
Detroit Free Press
Diet News
The Dispatch
DonPenny.com
Doug Stephan Radio Show
Eagle Tribune (Massachussets)
Education Week
ESPN.com
ESPN Radio Toronto
ESPN The Magazine
ESPN TV Canada
Examiner.com
Express & Echo of Exeter
Family Lifestyle Magazine
Financial Post Business Magazine
Financial Times of London
Fitness Magazine
Florida Sunshine Television Network
Florida Tennis
Florida Times Union
Florida Today
FlowInSports.com
FootballOutsiders.com
Fort Wayne News Sentinel
FoxSports.com
Fox National Television
The Free Lance-Star
Fredericksburg.com
FromTheBalcony.com
Futures and Commodity Market News
The Gadsden Times
Gainesville Sun
Gatorsports.com, FL
Giants.com
Globe and Mail
GlobeSports.com
Golf Course Management
GoTennis.com
Grand Rapids Press
Greenacres Press
Greenwich Time
The Grinders.TV
Gulf Daily News of Bahrain
Hamilton Journal News
Hamilton Spectator
The Happy Herald Monthly
The Happy Times Monthly
Hartford Courant
Hays Daily News, KS
Hendersonville Times News
HeraldTribune.com
Hollywood Reporter
Houma Today
Houston Chronicle
The Huffington Post
Independent Alligator
Independent of London
Indiana Gazette
Indianapolis Star
Innerworth.com
International Herald Tribune
Investors Business Daily
Jackson Clarion Ledger
Journal Sentinel
Jupiter Courier
Kansas City Star
Keralanext.com
KGO Radio San Francisco
KMVU Fox TV
Knight Ridder
KnowledgeHound.com
KSBI TV
Lake City Reporter
Las Vegas Sun
The Ledger
Lexington Dispatch, NC
London Evening Times
Los Angeles Times
Louisiana News Day
Louisville Courier-Journal
Loyola University Magazine
LTA Tennis Nation
Lufkin Daily News
Lycos Top 5%
Mansion Grove House Publishing
Maroon of Loyola University
Marquis Who’s Who in America
Men’s Fitness Magazine
Men’s Health Magazine
Metro Toronto
Miami Herald
Mid-Atlantic Matchpoint
Middletown Journal
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The Mirror (UK)
Mobile Register
Modesto Bee
Monterey County Herald
MSNBC.com
MSNBC TV
MSN Sports
MyFox Birmingham
MyFox Chicago
MyFox Tampa Bay
MyFox Utah
MyTelus Sports
Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel
Naples Daily News
National Post of Canada
National Public Radio
NBC TV Sacramento
Netguide Magazine
Netscape Sports
The-Next-Big-Thing
Newark Star Ledger
New Orleans Times Picayune
The News and Observer of Raleigh
Newsday
News Journal
News-Press of Ft. Myers
Newsweek.com
New York Daily News
New York Times
North Carolina Tennis Today
Northwest Arkansas Times
NWITIMES.com
OhioNewsNow.com
The Olympian
Omaha World-Herald
Orange County Register
Orlando Sentinel
Ottowa Citizen
Ottowa Herald
Oxford Press
Palm Beach Daily News
Palm Beach Post
Pan American Sports Network
Peoria Journal Star
PHHP News of U. Florida
Physical Magazine
Pioneer Press
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
PlantationEagles.com
Pocono Record
PowerSellersBlog.com
Power Tips Journal
Press Enterprise
PsychCentral.com
PsychedOnline.org
Psychology.com
Pulitzer Prize News
QualityWriter.com
RealTime Fantasy Sports
Radio France
RaidersOnline.org
The Record
RedsZone.com
Reference.com
The Register Citizen
Remedy RX
Reuters
Richmond Times Dispatch
Riyadh Daily News
Rocky Mountain News
Sacramento Bee
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salem News
San Antonio Express-News
San Francisco Chronicle
San Gabriel Valley Tribune
San Jose Mercury News
San Mateo Daily Journal
Sarasota Herald Tribune
Satellite Sisters National Radio
Saudi Gazzette
Savannah Morning News
Scripps Howard News
Seattle Post Intelligencer
Seattle Times
SelfHelpMagazine.com
Shanghai Daily
Shawnee News-Star
Short-Biographies.com
SI.com
SignOnSanDiego.com
SIRC Sports Research
Slam! Sports
Smash Tennis Magazine
South China Morning Post
SouthCoastToday.com
South Florida Business Journal
Speaker Focus
Sport Aces
SportingNews.com
The Sporting News
Sports Business News
Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated for Kids
Sports Illustrated for Women
Sports Industry News
SportsInjuryHelp.org
SportsReview.com
SportsTerminal.com
SportsTicker.com
TheSpread.com
Springfield News
Springfield News Sun
Stamford Advocate
State-Journal.com
The State
The St. Augustine Record
St. Catharines Standard
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Petersburg Times
The State (South Carolina)
StarArticle.com
Stonebridge Press
Stuart News/Port St. Lucie News
StumbleUpon.com
Sunday Telegraph Magazine
Sun Sentinel
Supercoach Magazine
Surfwax.com
Sydney Swans Official Magazine
Tallahassee Democrat
The Team 990
The Telegraph of Calcutta
Tampa Bay Times
Tampa Tribune
The Tennessean
Tennis Celebs
Tennis.com
TennisChannel.com
TennisInternet.com
Tennis Magazine
TennisMagazin Deutschland
Tennis Oggi
Tennis Pro Magazine
TennisRulz.com
TennisServer.com
Tennis Week
Tennis-X.com
Texas Court Report
TheBioFile.com
Thinkers.net
This Week in Pro Football
Time Out Magazine London
Time Out Magazine New York
TimesDaily.com
The Times of London
The Times of Northwest Indiana
Times Union of Albany
Topcat Sports Radio
Topix.net
Torrington Register Citizen
Tribune Business news
Tuscaloosa News
Ultimate Football Coaches Guide
University of Manitoba Magazine
The Urban Radio Network
UriGeller.com
USA Today
USA Weekend Magazine
USTA Magazine
VegasInsider.com
Vancouver Sun
Ventura County Star
VinceSpadea.com
Vision Magazine
Waco Tribune Herald
Wall Street Journal
WannaLearn.com
Washington Post
Washington Times
Watertown Daily Times
WBAL Baltimore
WCNN Radio
Whittier Daily News
The Wichita Daily Eagle
Wilmington Star
Wireless Flash
WNEM TV
WNTP Philadelphia
Women’s Sport & Fitness
Worcester Telegram & Gazette News
WorkInSports.com
WorldHistory.com
World Talk Radio
WSU student newspaper
Yahoo Internet Life Magazine
Yahoo Sports
Your Time
ZD Net UK
1stServe.com
3Clix.info

Dr. Murray has stopped listing all the media outlets where his Pre-Super Bowl Radio and TV Interviews have appeared because there are far too many. Dr. Murray annually discusses the Mental Performance Index (MPI) ratings prior to the game and the MPI has been more accurate than the official spread in four of the first six Super Bowls in which it has been used (2003 to 2008). The purpose of the MPI is to help football teams and coaches more accurately assess team performance, and this scoring method also demonstrates the important influence of mental performance in football and other sports too.

Here is a very small sample of where the MPI report has appeared and there are many more impossible to count or remember:

ESPN Canada, ABC TV West Palm Beach, ESPN Radio, WAXY, WBBR, WDJA, WGLR, WGNX, WXLP, KBLL, KDBR, KFIS, KGMY, KKAR, KNFX, KOB, KWEB, CJME, Y100, Oldies 103, WTKW, Syracuse, NY, RED FM Radio, Cork, Ireland, KFOX Vancouver, WKQZ Saginaw, Michigan, WYVN Holland Michigan, Rock 102, Springfield, MA, WBBR New York City, WDJA West Palm Beach, WAXY Miami, Y100 Miami, WGNX Vero Beach, WGLR Indianapolis, Oldies 103 Boston, WXLP Davenport, Iowa, KNFX Rochester, Minnesota, KWEB Rochester, Minnesota, KKAR Omaha, Nebraska, KBLL Helena, Montana, KDBR Flathead Valley, Montana KGMY Springfield, Missouri, CJME Saskatchewan, Canada, KFIS Portand, Oregon, KOB Albeq. New Mexico … and many hundreds more.

ESPN The Magazine featured a story called “Shrink Rap” on the MPI in its infancy in the December 23, 2002 issue. Many others have written about the MPI including the Tampa Tribune, Sun Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, Modesto Bee, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, LA Times, Indianapolis Star, Wichita Eagle, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Daily Messenger, Palm Beach Daily News, Tampa Bay Times, CNNSI, Sportsline.com, Grand Rapids Press, Lake City Reporter, Peoria Journal Star, Press Enterprise, Times Union, Vancouver Sun, Florida Times-Union, and Salem News.

Thank You for Visiting. Call 561-596-9898 or send an email to johnfmurray@mindspring.com

Bowling

Dr. John F. Murray has worked with bowlers at the professional and amateur levels.

At first glance, bowling might seem rather straightforward in its mental demands. When you look closer, however, you soon realize the enormous complexities of changing lane patterns and wax placements, surfaces, challenges of qualifying, and the killer instinct needed to win on the final day of an ESPN televised championship to name a few. It’s a great sport with tremendous mental demands, and like all sports the training off the lanes is just as important mentally.

Dr. Murray recently attended the Bowl Expo in Orlando, Florida as a guest of Tommy Delutz Jr., former #2 ranked bowler in the world and a regular client who asked to make this public. Tommy recovered from major wrist surgery and made a big comeback.

This page is still under development. Thanks for your patience.

ASK THE EXPERT: HE DOESN’T SHRINK FROM GETTING IN JOCKS’ HEADS

Detroit Free Press – June 4, 2006 – Mark Francescutti – Feature on John F. Murray – Are sports really mind over matter? The Free Press asked, via e-mail, sports performance psychologist John F. Murray, who’s based in Palm Beach, Fla., and has worked with more than 120 professional athletes:

QUESTION: What do you offer athletes?

ANSWER: Improved mental skills, reduced distractions and positive habit formation. This is usually accomplished in two ways:

1. Specific mental coaching or performance enhancement counseling to help the athlete or team develop in mental skills areas such as confidence, focus, pain management, goals, imagery, resilience, discipline, anxiety reduction, relaxation or any variety of other areas as revealed in the assessment.

2. More general counseling to navigate the many challenges presented by life and the high-performance nature of their activity. Resolving off-court or off-field issues (e.g., difficulty in relationships, low self-esteem, past burdens) can be just as necessary as teaching an athlete to concentrate better in competition.

For teams I offer assessments, lectures and workshops for coaches and for players.

Q: Former Lions quarterback Joey Harrington told the Free Press that he went to a sports psychologist on “how to stay sane in an insane world.” What type of advice would you give him?

A: I would start by listening to him rather than giving him advice. He could probably give me advice with what he has been through! … A thorough assessment would reveal the needs as described in the report, and then we would have fun rolling up our sleeves together and addressing the needs.

Q: Regarding managing, what’s the difference between players’ coaches such as Steve Mariucci and Flip Saunders versus a stricter coaches such as Rod Marinelli and Larry Brown? (Or use Nick Saban as an example). Is one more successful than the other?

A: Both types of coaches win and will continue to win in the future. I’m not sure style is really as important as key principles such as leadership, intelligence, consistency, ability to teach and motivate, honesty and attending to details.

Q: The Pistons were a good shooting team in the regular season but faltered in the playoffs. How much of it could be mental?

A: It is all mental and it is all physical, too! In fact, I prefer to say that it is mind-body skills as the thoughts influence the physical performance as much as successful execution feeds into confidence.

Q: Any tips for fans bummed about their teams losing?

A: After your team loses, identify with the aggressor by going out and buying a Heat hat or jersey. (Just kidding, Detroit!)

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

NY YANKEES SUPPORT SPORTS PSYCHOLOGY

Jun 12, 2005 – The NY Yankees have sent a brief supportive letter in favor of Dr. John F. Murray’s mission to tear down the stigma associated with sport psychology and mental health.

Thanks Yankees! Growing up, I was an avid Yankees fan in the Ft. Lauderdale, Florida area in the 1970s where they held Spring Training.

Alex Rodriguez, George Steinbrenner, and the NY Yankees organization should be commended for their support of sport psychology!

A-Rod is the best baseball player in history and the Yankees are the most successful sports franchise ever. It’s interesting how the best usually speak up first on important issues of needed change!

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

TENNIS PLAYERS STRUGGLE

Sarasota Herald Tribune – Sep 17, 2005 – John Simpson – Your palms sweat and your mind races. Your body aches, and your stomach’s tied in knots, just when you need to play your best.

The only solace is that your opponent feels the same way.

The tie-breaker in tennis heightens a player’s every move, stroke and strategy. Athleticism and shot-making get the glory in such pressure situations, but the difference between winning and losing is more often mental and emotional.

This is true for both club players and future pros.

Jesse Levine, a top-ranked junior at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, traveled to Michigan in August for the United States Tennis Association National Championships. In one day, he lost two matches on third-set tie-breakers.

It’s not the way he wanted to leave Kalamazoo.

“You have to forget about it,” said Levine, 17. “Obviously, it’s in your head, but once that’s done, there’s nothing you can do about it.

“You have to have a strategy going into the match, but in a tie-break, you’ve just got to bear down even more. You can’t have any mental lapses.”

Paula Gallant, 58, plays recreational tennis at the Punta Gorda Club. She’s learned to ignore the gamesmanship that goes along with tie-breakers.

“A lot of times I’ve found my opponent will try to play head games with me,” Gallant said. “I’ve gotten sucked into that so many times, and I just won’t allow it any longer because I get upset or I doubt myself.”

Art Ehlers, 72, plays senior tennis at the Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice. Years of competitive experience in basketball and baseball, too, help him remain calm during the tennis version of extra innings.

“I’ve been in a lot of pressure situations,” Ehlers says. “Many of the guys I play with really, really get tense and tight. I may not win, but it’s not because I feel the pressure.”

The psychology of sport

For John Murray, a sports psychologist in Palm Beach, the mental side of tennis isn’t a question. It’s a given.

“Players will admit if you talk to them that the mental game is anywhere from 70 percent to 95 percent or 99 percent in a close match,” he said, “and most matches are close because most players are pretty much the same physically.”

The mental difference between players shows up in the pressure of a tie-breaker.

Momentum is never so important. Perception is never so erratic. The lines of the court are cold observers of any errors or weaknesses.

With tension strung as tight as a racket, what can you do?

Ehlers has a favorite piece of advice for both softball teammates and tennis partners.

“I tell them to play like you don’t care,” he said. “There’s an old baseball pitcher who’s now an executive with the Baltimore Orioles, Mike Flanagan, who pitched for the Orioles for years and years. He tells his pitchers, ‘Guys, I want you to try easier.’

“So you want to keep up your level of intensity, but somehow or another, you want to play like you don’t care.”

Hitting that fine line.

It’s the ultimate challenge in any sport, when the game is on the line. Where is the fine line between raising your game and trying so hard that you choke?

“Athletes have been trying for generations to figure out how to beat that one,” Ehlers said.

But Murray finds that there is help for those who seek it.

“We look at several sources of information,” he said, “when we come up with these ideas of what’s the best mental state to have when you’re performing at something.”

Take a single point in a tie-breaker. It can be reduced to where it’s simpler than it looks.

“Only 15 percent of tennis is actually being in the middle of the rally,” Murray said. “The rest of the time, the 85 percent, is getting ready for the point. Everything is management of thoughts, feelings, actions and sensations.

“It’s all those things, calming yourself down, psyching yourself up. You’d be amazed how much these players get into the management of that.”

Superstition and savvy

Ehlers used to be superstitious in all sports.

In tennis, he would always bounce a ball twice before serving. In softball, he swung two bats in the on-deck circle, and always put his glove in the same spot in the dugout.

“What I’ve found, over a period of time, those things become distractions,” he said. “In the last five years, I’ve gotten over that, and I don’t give superstition a thought. I would do it and lose a point, and I’d start thinking, ‘Gee, did I bounce the ball twice?’

“Sometimes it would help me. Sometimes it would hurt me. Obviously it didn’t help or hurt me, but it did distract me.”

Ehlers, like so many veteran athletes, wishes he knew then what he knows now.

“When I was younger and obviously a better athlete than I am today, when I was trying to work my way up to the major leagues in baseball, I wish I had the courage and understanding of games and situations and the mind-set that I do today,” he said. “If I had that body of knowledge, which you only build up by aging and playing over the years, I would have been a better player.”

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

CHICAGO WONDERS: CAN CURSE-BUSTING CATCH ON?

Sun Sentinel – Apr 3, 2005 – Mike Berardino – Watching the Boston Red Sox end the Curse of the Bambino last October, Ryne Sandberg couldn’t help but smile.

You know Sandberg as the former Chicago Cubs second baseman, maybe the greatest ever to play the position. You probably remember his disappointments in the National League playoffs of 1984 and 1989, how even the great Sandberg was unable to return the Cubs to the World Series for the first time since 1945.

But you probably didn’t know Sandberg has been a closet Red Sox fan all these years.

“I had great feelings [watching Boston win],” Sandberg says during a break at Cubs spring training in Mesa, Ariz. “In a lot of ways, I’ve been a Red Sox fan for a number of years, just pulling for the underdog. I just wanted to see them win finally, which I can relate to here with the Cubs.”

Although the Red Sox hadn’t won the World Series since 1918, Cubs fans have been suffering even longer. Their last championship came in 1908, when it was Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance around the infield and Teddy Roosevelt in the White House.

Their most recent tease came two years ago, when they were five outs from besting the Marlins for the National League pennant with Mark Prior on the mound. Before you could say “Steve Bartman,” the whole crazy notion of a Cubs championship collapsed beneath the weight of history and a stirring Marlins comeback.

Wasn’t a part of Sandberg saddened the Red Sox got to the mountaintop before his beloved Cubbies? That the Curse of the Bambino was toppled before Chicagoans could lay waste to the Curse of the Billy Goat once and for all?

Apparently not.

“I thought it was great to watch,” Sandberg says. “I had a good feeling about it. To me it kind of brings hope to the Cubs getting to the World Series and winning the World Series. It can happen. If you’ve got the right guys, and you’ve got them all playing like a bunch of wild guys like the Red Sox were doing, it works. That brings optimism for me.”

Extending the thought, perhaps the entire city of Chicago should be more hopeful than ever in light of Boston’s Band of Idiots’ unlikely success. Baseball’s second-longest championship drought belongs to the pride of the South Side, where the White Sox haven’t won since 1917.

There have been five postseason appearances since Pants Rowland managed those Sox to the title, but each — most recently a three-game sweep by Seattle in 2000 — has ended in disappointment. Most painfully, 1919 brought the Black Sox Scandal in which eight players were exiled from the sport for their role in fixing a World Series loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

One city. One sport. Two franchises. Two excruciating waits for a modern-day championship.

Maybe that’s why White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen admits he, too, was uplifted by Boston’s comeback from a 3-0 American League Championship Series hole against the hated New York Yankees and subsequent four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

“My reaction was that it was a great thing for baseball, and the way they did it was great, too,” says Guillen, a White Sox shortstop on their 1993 playoff team. “The Red Sox were down and out. All of a sudden they wake up and win.”

To hear Guillen talk, Boston’s victory stirred him into heightened consciousness as well. You can almost picture him sitting bolt upright on his couch in Miami and realizing his destiny was at hand.

“It made me feel like, `Wow, it’s time for us to turn around and do it,'” Guillen says. “It’s just something that you look up and say, `Wow, now it’s the White Sox’s and Cubs’ opportunity.’ We should look at that as an inspiration.”

Breeding confidence

The theory is calling “modeling,” and it has nothing to do with a handful of Red Sox players showing up this season on Queer Eye For the Straight Guy.

According to the concept, which originated in the 1960s with psychologist Albert Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy, the success of one team or individual can improve the confidence and, in turn, the results of another.

Dr. John F. Murray, a South Florida-based sports psychologist, says he “absolutely” would use the theory if he were hired to assist either Chicago baseball team.

“With modeling we can see somebody else like the Red Sox who have finally broken down that door,” Murray says. “We then say, `Hey, I’m a White Sox person. If the Red Sox can do it, now I can do it.’ Confidence can come from others if you do it right.”

Murray has helped expedite psychological breakthroughs before. He helped tennis pro Vince Spadea overcome a 21-match losing streak and rise to his highest career ranking.

In 1997, Murray and Dr. James Bowman, now working with the U.S. Olympic program, conducted regular sessions at Washington State University. The Cougars tennis team spent three months doing mental imagery in an effort to end a long losing streak against its archrival Washington Huskies.

When the breakthrough finally came, the Cougars won by the exact score the team had envisioned.

That same year, the Washington State football team, which also worked with Bowman and Murray, reached the Rose Bowl for the first time in 67 years.

“When you talk about losing streaks or breaking down barriers, you’re talking about the whole concept,” Murray says. “It can almost be like a slump, but a historical slump. How do you break that wall?”

The answer comes from within, although Murray cautions every player on a given team could have a unique set of mental challenges.

“You have to believe in yourself,” Murray says. “It’s critically important. It’s not the only thing that’s important. You also need talent. But confidence is a component that’s relevant.”

`It wasn’t us’

Not everyone buys into this psychological connection between the two cities, or at least not into the notion that the Red Sox’s breakthrough somehow makes the quest more attainable for the Cubs or White Sox.

Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux, who returned to the club in 2004 after 11 years in Atlanta, says watching the Red Sox win was “no different than being in Atlanta when the Yankees won. It wasn’t us.”

Says White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko: “I don’t draw anything from it other than the Red Sox are off the hook. They don’t have to worry about people getting on them anymore or calling them whatever. I guess it just moves to the next couple teams that are in line that haven’t won in a long time, which would be us and the Cubs.”

Former Cubs television analyst and White Sox pitcher Steve Stone downplays the connection as well.

“I think the Red Sox winning has absolutely no bearing on what the Cubs will do,” Stone says. “I just don’t really believe in curses and I don’t believe when curses are broken, it helps other people. It certainly helped the Red Sox, but so did having Pedro [Martinez] and [Derek] Lowe come on and adding [Curt] Schilling to that group. They had a very good team who got hot at the right time and refused to quit, but there’s no bearing on the Cubs.”

He smiles and points down the hall toward the Cubs’ clubhouse.

“If Kerry Wood and Mark Prior go down the first week, how do you think it will affect the Cubs?” he says. “A lot more than the Red Sox winning will.”

Personnel key

Indeed, the fragile co-aces of the Cubs pitching staff have spent much of the spring battling arm problems. No amount of Beantown idiocy would likely lift the Cubs past that sort of hardship.

Along those same lines, trading Sammy Sosa and losing Moises Alou via free agency this offseason wouldn’t seem to bring the Lovable Losers any closer to ending their nearly centurylong drought. At best, the Cubs are expected to have a ferocious battle with the St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros for the top spot in the National League Central.

Moreover, the White Sox must open the season without their best hitter, Frank Thomas, still recovering from offseason ankle surgery. Most preseason forecasts picked the Minnesota Twins to win their fourth straight American League Central title, with some placing the White Sox below the Cleveland Indians and even the improving Detroit Tigers in a relatively weak division.

But that doesn’t mean people in Chicago can’t dream. The Red Sox breakthrough was that significant.

“I guess this is one of those things over the years: Boston and the Cubs haven’t won in so long, people just tie the two together,” says Cubs Hall of Fame outfielder Billy Williams. “They got rid of the Curse of the Bambino, so we should get rid of the Curse of the Goat and all that kind of stuff. I know this: When you’ve got good ballplayers, no curse could stop you.”

But does Boston winning make things any easier for those in the Second City?

“It depends how you look at it,” Sandberg says. “It can bring hope or now maybe it can bring more of a spotlight and more pressure. It all depends how it’s perceived and how it’s taken. But I look at it as a positive, as there is hope. Now it’s the Cubs and the White Sox, both in the same city, that haven’t been to the World Series in a long time.”

Count Cubs superscout Gary Hughes, one of the early Marlins architects, as a proponent of the “modeling” theory. He sees no negatives whatsoever in the Boston victory.

“If there was doubt before, there can be no doubt now,” Hughes says with his trademark chuckle. “The Red Sox have done it. We still haven’t. So it’s our turn. All those people saying, `It’s never going to happen.’ Well, it just happened. Why not again?”

Then there’s Guillen, who admittedly has daydreamed about a championship parade in the Windy City and what it would mean to his life.

“Having played there for so many years, being one of the biggest White Sox fans in the history of baseball, that’s one of my dreams,” Guillen says. “I told my wife and my family, if we win the World Series in Chicago, I’ll quit managing baseball.”

Wouldn’t that be pretty drastic?

“I’ll be running for mayor in Chicago,” Guillen says. “Whoever wins first is going to own the city.”

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

NFL PLAYOFFS – PSYCHED OUT

Baltimore Sun – Jan 25, 2005 – Ken Murray – NFL teams trying to get over the hump in big games carry psychological baggage only Freud could appreciate.

At the height of his frustration in the mid-1990s, then-Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf let out a howl of exasperation that could be heard all the way to Dallas.

“They could put seven helmets and four players out there and we’d find a way to fall over a helmet,” Wolf said of the Cowboys.

Wolf was worn down by an eight-game losing streak in a lopsided series. Three of the losses came in the postseason, the worst being the NFC championship game in January 1995. It wasn’t until the season after the Packers won the January 1997 Super Bowl that they finally exorcised their Dallas demon and ended the streak.

Donovan McNabb, the Philadelphia Eagles’ Pro Bowl quarterback, knows how Wolf felt. McNabb has lived through the agony of losing three consecutive NFC championship games, two of them at home.

He can only hope the Atlanta Falcons roll out their black helmets and play four-man defense today at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, where he will try one more time to reach the Super Bowl.

By going 0-for-3 in the championship game, McNabb also has stepped into elite, if somewhat infamous, company in the NFL. Quarterback Jim Kelly of the Buffalo Bills lost four Super Bowls and Fran Tarkenton of the Minnesota Vikings was winless in three. The Cleveland Browns’ Bernie Kosar lost three times in the AFC championship game.

And John Elway of the Denver Broncos didn’t win his first Super Bowl, either, until he had lost three of them.

This is no place for the faint of heart or queasy of stomach. It is where history is made, reputations are forged and dreams are smashed.

Unlike the Packers of the 1990s, the Eagles have no single nemesis to confront. They lost to the St. Louis Rams, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers the past three years at the threshold of the Super Bowl.

“It’s unfortunate what happened to us the last three years, but it’s just a different feeling this year,” McNabb said during a news conference last week. “We’ve had a special season; things have really been moving in a positive direction.”

Getting teams or individual players over the big-game hump is a job that often falls under the purview of sports psychologists.

Harry Edwards, a sports sociologist, retired Cal-Berkeley professor and longtime consultant for the San Francisco 49ers, watched as coach Bill Walsh crafted a dynasty after one of the most traumatic defeats in team history.

The defeat came in the 1987 playoffs, when the 49ers, with a 13-2 regular-season record, were upset at home by the Vikings in a conference semifinal, 36-24. San Francisco already had won two Super Bowls under Walsh, but the Minnesota loss was particularly devastating.

The 49ers came back the next year to beat the Chicago Bears in the NFC championship game and the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl, the last of Walsh’s three NFL titles.

“The key to it was how the leadership of the organization handled that crushing disappointment,” Edwards said. “I remember before the Super Bowl against the Bengals, Bill said there were going to be ebbs and flows in the game. That took out the idea that if something bad happens [as in 1987], ‘Here we go again.’

“If the Eagles go out on the field thinking, ‘Here we go again,’ they’ll lose.”

John F. Murray, a sports psychologist in West Palm Beach, Fla., believes the Eagles should embrace the potential for losing to relieve the pressure of winning.

“I would let them go to the possibility they might lose again,” he said. “That’s outcome. In sports psychology, you focus on performance, not outcome. Outcome can never be controlled, just as you can never control when a tsunami hits your house.

“We choke if we blow up the magnitude of the situation. It comes down to what’s going on inside each person’s head.”

Losing big games regularly plays havoc with the head, Gil Brandt said.

“I don’t think there’s any question that it gets into your mind,” said Brandt, the Cowboys’ personnel chief through their formative years into the Super Bowl era.

Brandt watched the phenomenon weave its damage in the 1960s, when the Cowboys were Next Year’s Champions, the title of a book that chronicled their early failures in big games. The Cowboys lost consecutive NFL championship games to the Packers at the dawn of the Super Bowl era in 1966 and 1967, then lost to the Cleveland Browns in the playoffs the next two seasons.

Dallas didn’t get to the Super Bowl until the 1970 season, and didn’t win the Super Bowl until the 1971 season. How did the Cowboys get over the hump?

By trading for tight end Mike Ditka, flanker Lance Alworth and cornerback Herb Adderley, who brought mental toughness to the team.

“Those three veteran players had a dramatic influence on our team,” Brandt said. “You can add a descending veteran player and it gives the team the thought, ‘They’re trying to help us win.’ The Eagles went out and got [Jevon] Kearse and [Terrell] Owens, and the players said the team tried to do everything it could to win.”

Three decades later, the Packers endured their six-year losing streak against the Cowboys. They lost to Dallas in the divisional round of the playoffs after the 1993 and 1994 seasons, and the NFC championship game the next year. All but one of the eight losses came in Dallas.

“We couldn’t get them [to play] in Green Bay,” Wolf said. “It was like a nightmare. It got to the point they played a [quarterback] named Jason Garrett and beat us. Obviously, it’s a psychological thing when you put out a guy like that and win.

“It’s like seeing Indianapolis and New England now. Indianapolis can’t go to New England and win the game.”

The Packers won the Super Bowl in the 1996 season after losing a regular-season game in Dallas, but didn’t have to face the Cowboys in the postseason. In 1997, they finally got the Cowboys in Green Bay and punished them, 45-17. End of streak.

Some teams never make it over the hump, though. The Browns of Kosar and tight end Ozzie Newsome endured three championship losses in four years, all against the Broncos, and never reached the Super Bowl.

The first loss in the 1986 season was highlighted by Elway’s 98-yard touchdown drive to force overtime, where the Broncos won, 23-20. The second, a year later, was punctuated by Earnest Byner’s fumble inside the 5-yard line as he was about to score the tying touchdown. The Browns lost, 38-33.

Two years later, they were blown out by the Broncos, 37-21.

Even though Newsome, as a front office executive, helped the Ravens win a Super Bowl four years ago, it didn’t take away the sting of those three defeats.

“In that I had the opportunity to win a Super Bowl, it has been softened,” the Ravens’ general manager said. “Not being able to go and play in it, it is some of the emptiness that I have.”

There was some satisfaction in going to the championship game three times, he said.

“It was a great accomplishment, but not as big as the Bills going to four straight Super Bowls. That was a lot tougher to do, and a lot tougher to deal with,” Newsome said.

Even while the Bills were losing four straight Super Bowls from 1991 through 1994, coach Marv Levy was never concerned about a psychological minefield.

“No, I really wasn’t,” Levy said, “because I made up mind, it wasn’t going to prey on me. I knew I couldn’t change the previous outcomes.”

Levy, of course, can feel empathy for the Eagles’ plight today.

“I admire their resilience,” he said. “They’re going to battle back. They didn’t fall apart because they suffered a tremendous disappointment.

“I don’t know if their story is going to parallel ours, but if they win, I will feel good for them.”

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

VIOLENCE IN SPORTS SURVEY RESULTS

JohnFMurray.com – Dec 17, 2004 – Feature – As Discussed on BBC Radio by Host Anita Anand & Dr. John F. Murray.

Thank you very much to all who participated in the Violence in Sports Survey. You have spoken and your comments have been tabulated in this report which aims to help improve sports by first understanding the situation better. I asked you to comment about what you felt was the main CAUSE and SOLUTION to the sports violence that erupted three weeks ago during the Indiana Pacers/Detroit Pistons game now known as The Basketbrawl.

I received an outstanding response to this survey as 376 of you emailed back. Many were very long and thoughtful letters offering multiple causes and solutions. The makeup of the population included one NBA coach and player, three NCAA basketball coaches, one NFL coach and two NFL players, seven NCAA Division I athletic directors, 21 professional athletes from a variety of other sports, and a couple hundred junior and recreational athletes and fans.

From your responses, it soon became clear that you felt this was an extremely complex issue with multiple causes and multiple solutions. As such, I carefully recorded each and every listed cause and solution and arrived at the Top 10 Causes and Top 8 Solutions to the problem as well as an otherâ category for less popular responses. I calculated the percentages to show you how frequent specific responses were, and have them listed below in order of most frequent to least frequent.

CAUSES

(1) POOR EDUCATION (24%): Athletes Today Receive Poor Education in the Areas of Character, Discipline, and Sportsmanship

(2) MONEY IN PRO SPORTS (20%): Excessive Money, Privilege, and Adoration of Pro Athletes Leads to Greater Self-Absorption and Less Responsible Behavior

(3) VIOLENT AND STRESSED SOCIETY (17%): Society Becoming More and More Violent, at War, and Collective Stress of 911

(4) FAN PROVOCATION AND RESTLESSNESS (16%): Fans Provocation of Players, and Fans Desire for More Stimulation

(5) SECURITY (5%) Poor Security in the Arena

(6) MEDIA (5%): Media Attention for Fans and the Reality TV Era

(7) AGGRESSIVENESS OF SPORT (5%): Player Frustration, Testosterone, and the inherent Aggressive Nature of Sports

(8) VIDEO GAMES (1%): Video Games Teach Violence

(9) FAN FRUSTRATION (1%): Frustration and Jealousy Among Fans

(10)Â RON ARTEST (1%): Ron Artest is a Unique Case

(11) OTHER (5%)

SOLUTIONS

(1) MORE CHARACTER EDUCATION (29%): Sportsmanship and Character Education Needs to be Better Developed and Implemented

(2) EXTREME DISCIPLINE ON PLAYERS (24%): Fines, suspension without pay, and much tougher standards on all players

(3) EXTREME DISCIPLINE ON FANS (21%): A range of suggested measures

4) MORE SPORT PSYCHOLOGY INVOLVEMENT (14%): Sport Psychologists Need to be More Involved with Athletes and Teams to Better Anticipate and Resolve Problems

(5) MEDIA (3%): Need to Return to Promoting and Worshiping Real Heroes who are True Role Models

(6) DISCIPLINE ON TEAM MANAGEMENT (2%): Fines on Team Owners and Franchises Whose Players Act out as Incentive for Change

(7)SECURITY (1%): Better Security in the Arenas

(8) ALCOHOL (1%) Eliminate Alcohol at Games

(8) FUND PROGRAMS FROM FINES (1%): Use the Money Collected in Fines to Directly Fund Programs of Education for Athletes, Teams and Leagues

Here are my thoughts based on the quality and proportion of your responses:

1. This is a very popular, complex and multifaceted issue.

2. You perceive lack of education as the biggest contributor to the violence and more education as the biggest potential solution.

3. You call for far tougher standards and more severe penalties for all the parties involved including players, fans, and team management.

4. You support the greater involvement of sport psychologists as a viable contribution toward helping install preventive measures and develop solutions too.

5. You call for a return to family values and sportsmanship.

Feel free to send me any more of your thoughts.

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

Sports Psychology in Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated – Dr. John F. Murray Profile – Sports Psychologist – October 14, 2003 – Work in Sports Feature by Mike McNulty – What started as a routine sideline interview after a typical preseason NFL game between the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons, quickly turned into a serious, heart-felt discussion of mental illness. There Ricky Williams stood talking about the social anxiety disorder he recently overcame. It was unusual — but incredibly positive — to see a tough-as-nails, muscular football star admit to something so personal. And Ricky Williams isn’t the only one.

All across the country, the stigma of mental illness is slowly disappearing. As a result, more and more athletes are willing to discuss their feelings with a professional.

One of those well-respected confidants is Dr. John Murray, PhD, who treats NFL players, professional golfers and professional tennis players.

Interestingly, Murray didn’t set out to be a sports psychologist when he started his career. “I traveled the world coaching tennis,” he says. But he saw something glaring while on the road watching matches.

Seeing how critically important the mental game was to success, and how few athletes trained their minds properly, I felt this was the perfect “next step” in my career,he says. “I wanted to do what I was doing in coaching but expand it to a much broader application for all people and athletes in all sports. Sport psychology was a small but growing specialty within psychology and the sport sciences.”

Along with a BA in psychology from Loyola University, Murray went south to Florida and began piling up degrees along with invaluable experience.

“I completed all my graduate work at the University of Florida in the 1990s. Got two masters degrees (Sport Psychology and Clinical Psychology) and a PhD (Clinical Psychology). The 1997 national champion Florida Gators football team was the subject of my doctoral dissertation.”

Now he needed an internship to apply his skills and gain some real world experience.

“I did my clinical and sport psychology internship at Washington State University and a post doctoral fellowship at Florida International University prior to opening my private practice.”

That practice, which is based in Florida and also includes non-athletes, has blossomed in recent years. Through his professional commitment, Murray’s schedule keeps getting more and more busy.

“My day typically involves seeing clients in my office and talking with them on the phone,”he says. “For many athletes this is the main way I work with them–using phone and email follow-up–as they travel throughout the world.”

“I always start with a new client by doing a full evaluation to see where their mental skills are, what they are like as a person, what they are dealing with. Then I devise a plan to help them reach their goals more effectively.”

Because of his success, Murray has slowly become one of the better-known voices in the sports psychology community.

“Other things I do are write articles for magazines, conduct workshops, and speak at various engagements,”he says. “I also do a fair number of interviews for newspapers, magazines, and TV occasionally. Most recently, I was called to do interviews for BBC radio, CBS national radio, NPR, Bloomberg Radio, ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated.”

Another big element of his job is attending sporting events.

“I get out to the athletic site quite often. I spend time on the sidelines, on the court and on the course to see the athlete in their natural environment.”

Murray says one of the drawbacks (or at least issue to keep in mind when considering the field) is the constant hours.

“I am available 24/7 to my clients so it is definitely not a 9 to 5 job!”

Yet the benefits, according to Murray, are endless.

“It’s exciting work helping people achieve more success,” he says. “And the great thing about working with high performers such as athletes is that you can actually see the performance. Just turn on the TV on Sunday.”

How many people can see such direct results? Hey, there goes my client rushing for 467 yards today. Looks like the sessions are working!

Of course, there’s also travel.

Along with visiting clients and athletic sites, Murray says, “I went to London twice this year to do workshops. The cell phone gets a lot of use.”

Perhaps one of the most intriguing things about sports psychology is that it’s still emerging. There’s plenty of room for newcomers to join and enrich the profession.

Murray’s overall advice to those considering a career is this: “To be a sport psychologist you have to wear many hats and credentials are extremely important. I believe the only way to do it is to become a licensed psychologist first, as the bare minimum level of training. You need to know what makes people tick, how they break down, all of the assessment and treatment training.

But a license in psychology is not enough. You also have to have studied the sport sciences–the physical bases of sport–the movement sciences, the biology, the physiology etc. Then, and perhaps the hardest part to acquire, is the hands-on training by another qualified sport psychologist. I was fortunate to train under a current Olympic sport psychologist when I did my internship. It’s a long road with little gratification and a lot of hard work. But now I’m professionally satisfied and challenged, invigorated by what I do, and constantly learning. You never know enough. Performance and competition is always changing so you have to be able to go with the flow, make adjustments with athletes on the fly, and treat clinical problems too when they come up.”

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

Using the Weapons of Sport Psychology in Tennis

Mental Equipment Syndicated Column – July 1, 1995 – Dr. John F. Murray – Let’s talk optimal performance. Whether you play or coach tennis professionally, or just slug it out on the weekends, there is a wealth of exciting news available for you from the world of sport psychology. Are you keeping up-to-date on the fascinating developments in this field? If not, you are depriving yourself of key tools that would raise your tennis expertise to the next level.

Sport psychology was defined by Singer in 1978 as “the science of psychology applied to sport.” Sport psychologists provide two major types of services: (1) performance enhancement strategies, and (2) counseling for a variety of issues affecting the athlete. Although not all tennis players have access to a qualified sport psychologist, much can be learned from the available research.

Psychology as a scientific discipline began in 1879, making it one of the youngest of all sciences. Sport psychology is younger still, with only 30 years of extensive research. In fact, it wasn’t until 1985 that the Division of Exercise and Sport Psychology was recognized as a subspecialty of the American Psychological Association. Although still in its infancy, this field already has much to offer. Many research findings have still not been communicated to the player and coach in an easily available format. Much knowledge is just waiting to be tapped! It is my opinion that the complete tennis player and coach of the 21st century will require all the benefits sport psychology has to offer to stay on top.

In this introductory article, I have briefly outlined several areas involved and services provided by the sport psychologist. Look for future articles to explore specific techniques to optimize your performance on the tennis court.

Let’s look at a few domains where sport psychology plays an active role:

(1) Touring professionals and coaches
(2) National team programs
(3) Sport organizations
(4) Youth development programs
(5) Student players and coaches
(6) Families of athletes
(7) Players coping with injuries
(8) Recreational programs

Here are some typical services provided by the sport psychologist:

(1) Imagery training
(2) Arousal management/attentional focus
(3) Substance abuse management
(4) Eating disorders/weight management
(5) Relaxation training
(6) Motivational strategies
(7) Competitive pressure management
(8) Programs to cope with retirement from sport

In closing, sport psychology has much to offer tennis players and coaches at all levels. If you are looking for a competitive edge, or trying to help your players achieve at their maximum level, turn to the science of sport psychology!