Posts Tagged ‘super bowl’

New Study Demonstrates Power of Mental Performance in NFL over 8 Years

By John F Murray, PhD

I would like to share some exciting news. I am going to keep it simple and concise, but I think you will realize that this is very powerful.

As many of you know, I wrote a book after developing a new way to analyze football performance that included for mental performance. Both the new statistic and the book were titled “The Mental Performance Index” and the study discussed in the book on all the Super Bowl games showed that this index correlated with winning in the Super Bowl more than any other traditional statistic. It worked because the MPI captures more of reality than more dry statistics that do not include the observable mental aspects of performance and it also works because it measures every moment. It is both a mental measure and a measure of consistency over every play.

On the one hand this was very thrilling and I secured a 4-time Super Bowl winning coach, Tom Flores, to write the forward, and America’s most beloved and successful female sports broadcaster, Lesley Visser, who wrote the epilogue. Many NFL people provided supportive quotes including Don Shula and the late Steve Sabol of NFL Films, but my purpose here is not to promote this book, but to share something much more exciting and new. I aim to just further promote the vitality of mental performance and the need for mental coaching. I think my study has accomplished this. Read on.

I developed the MPI to help football teams by describing overall performance more accurately, because it includes a vital mental component usually ignored, but I never intended to use it to predict future games. Sure, I went on national radio and on television to talk about the Super Bowl over an 8 year stretch to give my fun pick based on MPI data, and I was right against the spread 6 of 8 years, but that was the fun angle and never the point of the MPI. It was intriguing success to get 6 of 8 correct, but an entirely too small sample size of only 8 games does not allow the serious scientist to get too excited about the predictive qualities of the MPI. I needed to do more to wake up the world.

Enter the year 2013. At this point, I realized that many in the sports world, and particularly in football, were still slow in grasping the importance of mental performance and mental coaching, so I endeavored to do something new to help illuminate the importance of mental performance and to also determine on my own how well the MPI could actually predict. I wasn’t sure, but if I could show that the MPI could reliably predict future games, it would add firepower to the notion that since I was measuring an important but often ignored part of the game – the mental game – I would also be able to predict better than most because I was using a tool that others did not have, and a tool that was capturing rich data that was often ignored.

Sure, I had already shown that the mental measure I created correlated best in winning the Super Bowl, but taking it to the level of game prediction was an entirely different animal. I was stuck on game description, but not future game prediction. I did not quit my day job as I have a duty to still see clients out of my office, on the phone, and at client sites, but this side project became a huge passion too, and I am happy to say that I have some very interesting results after having studied the MPI to predict games over an 8 year period of time from 2007 to 2014.

It would be entirely too complicated to discuss in this brief article how I took the MPI and turned it into a prediction machine. It was a great challenge and I tackled it with passion and purpose, starting with the raw data that the MPI produced and tweaking it relentlessly (based on numerous mini studies) for a variety of factors such as home field advantage, the established line on the game, the strength of schedule, and many other factors, but the essence was still a measure that included observable mental performance using the MPI that I discussed in my book.

I even hired professional statisticians to check my work and make sure I was doing everything properly. I have a background in statistics, having taught it at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, but I needed to pay someone to check on my work, and I wanted someone who does this work full time.

In developing my study, I borrowed from a format that the world is very familiar with in the Westgate Super Contest, the largest handicapping contest on the planet. Contestants picks 5 games each week and make their picks against a contest line. So each season contestants picks 85 total games and the most recent contest had over 1700 entries. It is exploding in popularity. The player with the highest win percentage (represented as total points) is the winner. I used their method of selecting 5 games each week, but I did it over an 8 year period of time, and methodically applied the system I developed to select 5 games each week in a totally systematic/objective manner.

The study actually included 4 different composite variations of a multiple regression approach, but the purest multiple regression approach was the clear winner, and boy did it win. The total sample size was very large as there are over 2000 NFL games to choose from over an 8 year stretch, but picking 85 games each year narrows that down to 680 game picks. Since in weeks 1 and 2 there is not enough data, I began each year at week 3, leading to a total of 600 picks. I did not count pushes (ties) in my analysis. If there was a push, I treated it as if it did not exist. In the contest, pushes count as half a point, but I did not give myself that luxury, so my findings conservatively underestimate my true success.

I am only going to share the findings from the most successful approach, the simple linear regression approach that fit the data best. In sum, I used my regression formula to select 5 games each week over an 8 year period of NFL games, and I used this formula in conjunction with the MPI that had been tweaked multiple times into a complex algorithm. The end result was that by using this formula I was able to first identify the 5 best games from which to make my picks, and then the algorithm which had produced an MPI line on the game was used to select a team either above or below the established line to make the actual picks. It was either a win or loss, or it didn’t count as a push. Keeping it simple, I ended up with 5 picks each week from week 3 to week 17 in each of 8 years.

If what I had created was meaningless, we would expect to find close to 50% success rate in an ATS (against the spread) format. The established contest line (or Vegas line) does a very good job of making it virtually a coin flip, so not matter what team you pick, the inexperienced or unsophisticated person making a pick will get closer and closer to 50% over time and since we are starting with close to 2000 games, the statistical power is such that any deviation above a 50% success rate would be interesting. A baby or person with an IQ of 75 making selections would be close to 50%. Professional handicappers who do this regularly and have records on them over an 8 year period of time usually get it right 50, 51 or 52% of the time. Very good ones are at 53% or rarely 54%, and the very best in history are still usually below 57 or 58% over hundreds of games of selections. It is one of the hardest things in life to do to win in an ATS format.

What kind of results did the MPI get? I am thrilled to report that it hit the ball out of the park! Below are the actual records for each of the 8 years of using this system to make picks in this study:

2007: 48 wins, 27 losses (64%)
2008: 44 wins, 31 losses (59%)
2009: 37 wins, 38 losses (49%)
2010: 45 wins, 30 losses (60%)
2011: 46 wins, 29 losses (61%)
2012: 44 wins, 31 losses (59%)
2013: 39 wins, 36 losses (52%)
2014: 44 wins, 31 losses (59%)
________________________________
Overall Average Success Rate Over 8 Years = 58%

What does all this mean? I am more than excited about this approach that took a few years to refine, and I plan to actually use it in future Super Contests to see if I can place in the top 50. From the data above, if I had played the contest using this exact system approach each year, I probably would have been in the top 50 about 5 or 6 out of the 8 years.

58% success did not come by accident. If this had meant nothing, it would have registered a 49.8% success rate or very close to 50%, but this 8% jump on chance over close to 2000 observations and 600 selections from that is huge evidence about how critically important the mental game is in football and all sports.

What about the future? Some people reading this will be impressed that I have found that measuring the mental game is now proven to have predictive powers. This is not surprising to me but it took a ton of work to get there. Others will not be impressed at all, and that is fine. It will probably take a public application of my system with consistent proven future results in contests to sway the doubters. I plan on now applying my system the same way I have in the study to see if I can get similar results, and that will be the proof everyone needs. Doubting Thomas people are fine. Doubt is the hallmark of science so I totally understand. The null hypothesis begins by saying that nothing exists. It does not begin with belief. I love that.

In sum, the main purpose of this study was to determine if using the MPI as a predictor is possible, lending further likely support to my study revealed in the book, that mental performance really does matter. Just ask the Cincinnati Bengals if it matters. Ask Blair Walsh the same question now.

The take home message from my book, and these newly released results, is that if you would like to be your best in any sport you had better pay attention to mental performance and the best way to do that is through consistent long-term mental skills training or mental coaching.

I hope you have enjoyed this brief glimpse into the exciting world of sports psychology!

Super Bowl predictions and MPI

Sports Psychology Feature by Dr. John F. Murray

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 27 – PRNewswire — The Raiders were favored, but the Buccaneers would win — and Dr. John F. Murray, sport psychologist and creator of the Murray Performance Index(TM) (MPI)(TM), told you so.

“The Football Shrink” accurately forecast that Tampa Bay would dominate Oakland in Super Bowl XXXVII using the MPI, which quantifies the degree to which a team performs to perfection. His bold prediction — the Bucs would win by at least two touchdowns — was broadcast on more than 270 radio stations in the week leading up to the game, by the likes of Bloomberg Radio Network (interviewed by Bob Goldsholl) to KDBR-AM in Flathead Valley, MT.

“Clearly the Tampa Bay defense was superb and much better than Oakland’s offense, but the Buccaneers executed better in all phases of the game and handled pressure situations better,” said Murray. “Their performance index,
which was heading upward in their previous two playoff games, continued, and so did the Raiders’ trend downward.”

The Buccaneers’ 48-21 Super Bowl victory was reflected in the MPI scores from Murray’s play-by-play analysis of the game. Tampa Bay compiled a .563 index out of a possible 1.000, Oakland .423 Murray, a 41-year-old Ph.D. licensed sport psychologist, evaluated every NFL playoff game, assigning point values on each play. A humdrum 3-yard run may earn 50 points; a sensational clutch catch, 100; a play with penalty or turnover, zero. Game totals range from 0 to 100 percentage points (perfection).

Dr. Murray posted results on the MPI website (www.murrayperformanceindex.com) and the MPI was covered by ESPN The Magazine (Dec. 23, 2002) and endorsed by Sporting News columnist Fritz Quindt and Ron Sellers, the former NFL wide receiver.

“The Football Shrink” plans to distribute his invaluable MPI analysis in the 2003 NFL season via a subscription service — and he is available for private evaluation of NFL, college and high school games.

Dr. Murray’s professional services include sport psychology evaluations & counseling, and workshops for teams and corporations. Among his topics are focus, confidence, goal setting, energy management, imagery, conflict resolution, leadership, and stress management to provide a critical mental advantage.

Contact Dr. Murray by email at johnfmurray@mindspring.com or in the United States at: (561) 596-9898 (cell). He is also available for public speaking opportunities, and workshops on Clinical and Sports Psychology.

New Book will Shake up the Sports World

March, 2011 – Palm Beach, Florida – Dr. John F. Murray’s new book is out in paperback, kindle, and nook formats with more to come. It is called “The Mental Performance Index: Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History” with Foreword by Tom Flores, Epilogue by Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee Lesley Visser, and Coaching Contribution by Don Shula (World Audience, 2011). The combined toughest/most versatile player in Miami Dolphins history, Jim “Crash” Jensen, says about this book. “Everyone is gifted, but not everyone opens the package. Open this package and you will understand the secret advantage that helped keep me in the NFL for 12 years.”

To order the book, below is a link to the amazon.com link. The book is much more than numbers. It is about a shocking scientific discovery in sports, the politics working in pro sports, people and ideas inspiring Dr. John F Murray to become a sports psychologist and develop the first scoring system in team sports that includes a mental component, the need for mental skills in all sports, and so much more including the ranking of all teams to ever play in the Super Bowl based on the MPI introduced here for the first time.

This book signals a major paradigm shift in sports and the findings that mental performance is indeed crucial to success can no longer be ignored by those wishing to remain in the game.

Sports psychologist: Anxiety often root of performance problems

Sports psychology feature on Dr. John F Murray below:

Palm Beach Daily News – April 10, 2010 – John Nelander – When their tennis skills are tumbling, or their slice is careening out of control on the golf course, most people think of three solutions: practice, practice and more practice.

But there’s a mental aspect to all sports, whether you’re a professional athlete or just a weekend duffer. Some people who are serious about improving their performance are looking to sports psychologists for help.

A sports psychologist won’t turn you from a 100-shot, 18-hole hack into a par golfer. But a fresh mental approach to your sport can help maximize whatever talent you do have.

The root cause of most athletic performance problems is anxiety, says John Murray, a sports psychologist who lives and works in Palm Beach. You can boil it down to fear.

“People tend to think about results, and that causes fear, because they’re afraid of losing, or looking bad,â€? says Murray, who has an office in the Paramount Building. “They’re afraid of letting themselves down or their team down.â€?

The enemy is the old fight-or-flight response. As Murray notes: “It’s the same response that would occur if a snake was about to attack you.

“It’s an inappropriate response in this day and age, but our bodies haven’t caught up with that. To break that response, you have to get in and do some serious techniques, like classical conditioning and relaxation work.â€?

The key is not to fight the anxiety response — it’s to make sure it doesn’t get turned on in the first place. A coach isn’t doing an athlete any favors if he stands on the sidelines screaming: “Focus! Focus!â€?

Imagine this calming routine on the tennis court: You’re at the service line. You bounce the ball once, take a deep breath, and then exhale. “Imagine a perfect serve, and then let it rip,â€? says Murray. “I don’t want people to think more, I want them to think less. I want them to be on auto-pilot.â€?

Action versus anxiety

The potential for anxiety to affect an athlete varies with the sport. In general, the more time you spend actively engaged in competitive activity, the less anxiety will be a factor.

Golfers are particularly vulnerable, because only about 1 percent of the time on the course actually involves swinging the club. That leaves 99 percent of your time to worry about what your next shot is going to look like.

For every hour on the tennis court, 15-20 percent of your time is spent engaged in a point. That still leaves plenty of time to lose your focus.

“Contrast that with a soccer match,â€? Murray adds. “There, you might be engaged in the sport 80 percent of the time. In NFL football it’s 33 percent, which is why I say American football is a more mentally demanding sport.â€?

New discipline

Sports psychology is a relatively recent discipline. The American Psychological Association’s Division of Exercise and Sport Psychology will mark its 25th anniversary next year. There are about 800 members nationwide, says Jennifer Carter, president-elect of the organization.

In its very early days, sports psychologists worked mostly with pros or serious amateurs. Now, she says, more weekend athletes are taking the extra step. “It’s usually about self-talk — how the athlete is coaching himself,â€? says Carter, who works for a group practice in Worthington, Ohio, called The Center for Balanced Living.

“People have this inner dialogue going. We say about 200 words per minute to ourselves. If you’re involved in sports, it doesn’t help if you’re consistently critical of your own performance.â€?

Like Murray, most psychologists use imagery to help people picture success on the field, she adds.

Murray has a general psychology practice as well, but 90 percent of his clientele has sports or performance issues — and there can be performance issues in business, too. He sees a lot of high school athletes brought in by their parents who are hoping to see their kids score an athletic scholarship.

He also works with some NFL teams, including the Miami Dolphins. He’s worked with major league baseball players and NCAA basketball stars.

“I’m still waiting for the phone to ring off the hook from the NFL,â€? he says. “Why isn’t it? Because NFL coaches are sort of control freaks, and they want to do it all in-house. But my passion is to help an NFL team win a Super Bowl one year.â€?

Hope you’ve enjoyed this feature from the world of sports psychology

The Super Bowl Sets New Standards

Enjoy this article from SportsPro Magazine, sport’s money magazine, showing the continuing dominance of NFL football as this most recent Super Bowl was the most watched program in USA television history! Also, stay tuned for my new book titled “The Mental Performance Index: Ranking the Best Teams in Super Bowl History” to be released this year by World Audience. Enjoy! John F Murray, Sports Psychologist, Palm Beach, Florida

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information:

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

Head Games on the Diamond

Charleston Mercury – May 7, 2009 – Spencer Broom – Three seconds on the clock. Your team is down by two against your hated rival, and Joe the Kicker is lined up 42 yards away on the right hash, wind barely brushing against the flags in the distance, the crowd tantalizingly silent.

The whistle blows, bodies begin clashing. The snap, the hold, the kick is up….

Fundamentally, only two results can occur in this scenario. Either ol’ Joe misses it, sending you and your buddies to the car in a foul mood and cursing the relationship you have with your team. Or Joe becomes your new hero and is carried off the field as the toast of the town, not to be forgotten in the near future.

Yet, despite those two reasonably simple and contrasting outcomes, the variables that are put into play as foot meets ball can go much deeper than plain leg strength.

Just ask Dr. John F. Murray, one of the premier sports psychologists in the world.

“There is an art and a science to understanding how each player ticks and also how to be able to bring out the best in that person,â€? Murray said via phone from Palm Beach, Florida, where he runs his practice. “You have your talent, your physical skills, and then you have your mental skills. Those all go together with effort to determine performance, and how well you perform determines whether you win or lose.â€?

Murray, dubbed “The Roger Federer of Sports Psychologistsâ€? by Tennis Week and “The Freud of Footballâ€? by the Washington Post, has been providing sports psychology along with clinical psychology services to help individuals, organizations and teams succeed for over 14 years, not to mention writing a best-selling book, Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game.

While it seems fans and media types alike would prefer our athletes to be cut from the mold of Terminator – robot seeking to destroy the opposition without so much as a glitch – it is a vision that is confounded by real human deficiencies.

Athletes struggle with common problems like everyone else, problems such as anxiety, low confidence or improper management that unavoidably effect performance, Murray says. He estimates about 80 percent of the people he sees are seeking to perform better in their individual sports.

Murray has worked with individual athletes from tennis players – he has played and coached tennis including an ATP professional at the Australian Open — to quarterbacks, as well as entire teams, and says one of the most common issues he encounters is athletes that perform well in practice but can’t reach the same level of performance in live game situations.

Yogi Berra once stated, “Baseball is 90 percent mental — the other half is physical.â€? And though Yogi’s math was a bit rusty, the basic principle holds true in all sports.

“If you ask any group, ‘How important do you consider mental skills?’ depending on the sport you will get inevitably people raising their hands and saying 70,80,90 percent,â€? Murray explains. “Then if you ask, if its 70-90 percent, how often do you train your mental skills, how much time do you spend on that in your training time, they will always say 5 percent to nothing.â€?

The lack of training represents the challenge for a sports psychologist. Nearly everyone recognizes the magnitude of the mind in athletics, yet it is hardly practiced enough, like, say, offensive or defensive drills.

“That’s the gap that you are filling,â€? Murray says of the function of a sports psychologist. “You’re a high performance advantage to somebody with the science of success that’s derived from many years of solid research, in both psychology and the sports sciences.â€?

A bit of the research that Murray mentions includes his own Mental Performance Index (MPI), which is a measure of an overall football team’s performance in a game by looking at every meaningful play and including mental aspects of performance. He calls it the percentage of perfection.

Progress is obviously being made within the field, though Murrays says it is difficult to gauge the overall awareness.

However, one needs to look no further than the recent NFL draft to see the influence of sports psychology. Amidst 400 pound bench presses and 4.4 40-yard dashes, more and more professional organizations, specifically the NFL, are taking the time to administer psychological assessments, especially among skill position players (namely quarterbacks) in the scouting stage of amateur players.

With money on the line, teams are attempting to slim the chances of wasting a big payday on a player who shows signs of psychological immaturity or imbalance that weren’t correctly taken into account. In sports, the mind is gaining ground on the legs and arms in terms of usefulness on the field of play.

But Murray still sees plenty of room for growth.

“[Professional leagues] are not doing it preventively or proactively,â€? Murray says. He is currently working on a book based on football and psychology. “Usually what they do, they have people they pull from when they need them, when there is a problem they can’t solve. In my opinion, that is putting a bandage on it after it’s too late. “

Murray would prefer consistent contact with athletes in order to understand their needs fully, their strengths and weaknesses, thereby developing an ongoing plan to move forward with accordingly.

He rehashes on a time he approached former (2000- 2004) Miami Dolphins and current Pittsburgh Panthers head coach Dave Wannstedt about bringing in a sports psychologist for regular office hours to work with the players as needed. His idea was rebuffed. And a “we’ll call you when we need youâ€? attitude was given in return.

“For a league that is so invested in success and professionalism, that’s really the thinking,â€? Murray says. He cites a Good Old Boy system that is prevalent within coaching ranks that would rather utilize more of their own former teammates and coaches to come in and speak with their players than a sports psychologist.

Small steps seem to be the most prudent approach at this point in time for sports psychologists in professional sports. Know that we’re here and we can help you; just let us show you is the mantra right now.

Murray, who says that there are fewer than a handful who make their living exclusively practicing sports psychology, which might a potential roadblock to growth, wants to assist others the way he did professional tennis player Vince Spadea. Spadea suffered from the longest losing streak in ATP history; after working with Murray, he rose from 300 in the world to the top 10.

A broken psyche, a wounded confidence or a misguided culture within a team or program is truly where Murray’s field begins.

“It’s just being able to help that person in a professional way to perform at his or her highest level, to do it in a systematic, ongoing training way,â€? says Murray. “There are so many possibilities that could be affecting that person because we are all so complex.â€?

One athlete’s problems can be complex enough, but when you begin to imagine a full squad of players there is an innumerable amount of psychological variables that can have a profound impact on a team’s success, or lack thereof.

The easiest and most common expression thrown on a sports entity that has struggled over a number of years is curse. Murray scoffs at the word, calling it ridiculous. And what sports psychologist wouldn’t? Because for every Chicago Cub’s Curse of the Billy Goat that is still ongoing, there is a Boston Red Sox Curse of the Bambino that has been seemingly broken. Does anyone even remember the Red Sox “curseâ€? anymore?

Changing a losing culture, Murray says, can only take a small dose of success, breaking through the wall of low confidence. Though he does believe the past influences the present and the future, Murray points to a famous Henry Ford quote, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.â€?

Finding the happy medium of personalities to productively lead a team along with correct psyche is essential.

Take a team like Murray’s own Miami Dolphins. For the past decade, a once proud organization had been reduced to nothing more than a laughingstock, barely sniffing anything remotely close to a winning record. Then enters the rough and tough disciplinarian Bill Parcells, a man who will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame with two Super Bowl rings. As the new vice president of football operations prior to last season, he begins to transform the mentality within the team through personnel and coaching moves and — boom! — they are AFC East champions in 2008.

“What he does, being tough on his players, making sure things are done the right way, is very similar to what a sports psychologist does,â€? Murray says. “What we are doing as sports psychologists is taking it to another level, being available to the players and understanding much deeper so we can help the Bill Parcells of the world have their players perform even better.â€?

All in all, psychology and its use in sports is still in the infancy stages, and Murray says he will know they have progressed past that when his phone is ringing off the hook from the likes of the Yankees and the Dolphins, though the foundation that has already been laid creates optimism for the future of the field.

So next time Joe the Kicker lines up for the game winner, perhaps he will have the security in knowing that when the ball is in the air he has been prepared to perform at the peak of his ability, physically and mentally.

By the way, the kick was good. Now everyone can go home happy.

WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE AND MPI 3 FOR 3 AGAINST SPREAD

Washington Post – Feb 5, 2005 – Don Oldenburg – Football Fans, Calling It as They Foresee It – John F. Murray is the Freud of football. A sports psychologist in West Palm Beach, Fla., he devised the Mental Performance Index for quantifying how close a team comes to mental and physical perfection.

He has broken down every play of the Patriots’ and Eagles’ playoff games, assigning point values for factors ranging from “focused execution” to “pressure management.” An MPI score of .600 is excellent and .500 is average.

Murray accurately predicted the blowout upset two years ago by Tampa Bay. Last year, he presaged an “extremely close game” but got the winner wrong — he picked the Carolina Panthers, not New England (the game was indeed one of the closest games in history, a 3 point game decided in the final 3 seconds). This Super Bowl looks like another tough call.

“The Eagles have a slight edge,” he says. Their MPI score is .541, the Patriots’ .525. “When you isolate out only those pressure situations, the Patriots are better. But given a relatively clean-played game, no turnovers or mistakes, Philadelphia has the advantage.”

So which is it? “Total score, you have to say the Eagles,” he says.

Could be a close game.

{It was another game that was one of the closest in history. Don, thanks for the “Freud of Football” reference. I definitely use it! You accurately refer to the MPI as quantifying degree of perfection including mental and physical factors. The MPI’s purpose is to help coaches and teams, but of course everybody loves the fun “pick.” The MPI was right on again in estimating the relative performance shown in an extremely close game, and your article is great! The MPI is 3/3 in beating the spread now}

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