Posts Tagged ‘sports psychology’

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.

Media

See Comments about Dr. John F Murray

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.