Archive for the ‘News & Events’ Category


The National Post of Canada – Jan 25, 2005 – Samantha Grice – Some therapists are asking patients to get off the couch and take a hike – Six months ago, Dr. John F. Murray had an epiphany. At the time, the sport performance psychologist was in a counselling session with a client in his Florida office. His client, a tennis player, was having a hard time putting his feelings into words.

“Hey,” Murray said, “Let’s go for a walk.”

So successful was that first walking and talking session in emotionally unblocking the tennis player that Murray now offers all his clients the option of trading the couch for the sidewalk.

It helps that Murray’s office is in picturesque Palm Beach, where one can choose to walk the ocean side of the island or the lake side. On that particular afternoon, they chose the lake side — rated among the top 10 walking destinations in the world — and then headed to a cafe for a cappuccino and a slice of pizza before walking back.

Murray says the session was conducted just as it would have been had they stayed inside. “It was just as serious. There was nothing frivolous about it and he opened up more than he would have sitting,” he says.

“When you’re moving, your blood is flowing and you feel more relaxed and then you can get more in touch with your thoughts. You think clearer.” About 60% of Murray’s patients have been keen to take their therapy sessions on the road.

As a clinical and sport psychologist as well as a former coach and athlete, Murray says it was a natural step to employ walking and talking therapy in his practice. It helped that Murray recently started walking a lot himself.

“I was on national television over a year ago, and I looked terrible because I had gained so much weight,” he says. “And during the process of losing it I did a whole lot of walking. Because I had already learned to love to walk, when I had this client who wasn’t talking, a light went off in my head and I realized how fun and beneficial it could be for both of us.”

While there are only a sprinkling of psychologists across North America who use walking therapy, most have come to it like Murray — after seeing first-hand the mental benefits of exercise.

And some, such as Dr. Keith Johnsgard, an emeritus professor of psychology from San Jose State University from 1955 to 2001 and a practising clinical psychologist since 1956, have long held that exercise is a wonderful treatment for depression and anxiety.

Johnsgard first started walking with patients around 1970. The idea came to him after he started exercising with a few colleagues, instead of “eating, drinking and smoking” to combat the stress of the job. “And I discovered that when I came back for an afternoon of clinical work, I wasn’t tired, but energized and calm and really de-stressed,” he says. “So I thought, gosh, if this has such a profound effect on me, it might work for clients.”

He began prescribing exercise for depressed and anxious patients and occasionally started walking with them.

“This was pretty non-traditional stuff back then,” he says. “It wasn’t even until 1979 that the first article came out showing that exercise reduced clinical depression. It’s still not a widely accepted or acknowledged treatment.”

Johnsgard’s office at the university was near a park and a quiet neighbourhood, with direct access to the outside, so it was easy for him to wander out with a patient.

But he has also met patients at trailheads and gone running with those fighting depression.

Johnsgard says these techniques help people open up. “If you’re walking side by side and looking ahead rather than sitting in a chair in an office and having a shrink stare at you and interpret every change in modulation or facial expression, [you] tend to be more open.”

And, he says, walking vigorously with people who aren’t normally active will get their physiology aroused in the same way strong emotions do. “And people get in touch with their feelings more, is my experience. Sometimes they will get very angry or stop and sob. Ultimately, what they discover is when they’re done walking, they feel better.”

Johnsgard has written extensively on the subject of exercise and depression, and his latest book is called Conquering Depression and Anxiety through Exercise.

Kate Hays, PhD, a clinical and sport psychologist in Toronto, has also published several books on the subject, her most recent being Move Your Body, Tone Your Mood.

Hays has been practising psychotherapy in motion for almost 20 years. And while it’s not something she offers to all her clients, it is particularly relevant for some.

“I can think of someone who was using walking as part of her weight loss plan and also in psychotherapy, and so we used the occasion of being outside to do the therapy,” explains Hays. “And when walking along a street that had an incline she would say, ‘OK, today I’ve got something really difficult to discuss so I want to walk those hills and I want to really push myself.’ So she was using the metaphor of the activity.”

Hays reasons that exercise can open a person up to thoughts and feelings and, as that is what therapy is about, the two can work together.

Working downtown in the concrete jungle that is the intersection of Toronto’s Yonge Street and Bloor Street, Hays will stroll to the less-trafficked area of Queen’s Park. And while she admits that sometimes there are distractions, they can be useful.

“It’s hard to imagine this time of year, but seeing a wonderful flower planting might be very relevant in terms of paying attention to the beauty that surrounds us.”

Both Hays and Johnsgard say their only hesitation in taking clients out of the office is the potential for the relationship to be misconstrued.

“I’m aware there are potentials for all kinds of gender implications and that’s why the only people I’ve mentioned it to are women clients,” says Hays. “I want to make sure that whatever we are doing is something that feels safe and appropriate to the client.”

Jon Mills, PsyD, PhD and ABPP, of the Canadian Psychological Association, sees far greater issues with leaving the therapeutic office environment.

“It seems quite unprofessional. And first and foremost it seems to minimize the seriousness of therapy,” he says. ” ‘Let’s go for a walk and a chat,’ seems more what one does with a friend.”

Mills says the outside distractions and noise could interfere with a genuine therapeutic process. “And it certainly can encumber getting in touch with certain emotions, particularly if you have people breaking down crying on the street.”

When Hays is working with a highly emotional client, she asks them if they would rather stay inside that day — or if she should take along some tissues.

Murray maintains that walking and talking is a most natural human activity. “The ancient Greeks did this all the time. Aristotle walked while teaching his students, people throughout history have done this, but as a psychologist I was trained to have people sit on a couch,” he says. “I like to say, if you so choose you can toss out the couch and go for a walk. It’s much more healthy.”

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


Jan 23, 2006 – Football Shrink’: Seahawks Are Better Than Steelers; Performance Index of Sport Psychologist Forecasts a Super Bowl XL Upset Based on MPI Statistics!

Dr. Murray Talks Super Bowl, MPI and Sport Psychology on Streaming Radio (Click “LISTEN”)

DETROIT, MICHIGAN, Jan. 24 — Forget about the odds makers and pick the Seattle Seahawks! The Seahawks should defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL. So predicts the creator of the Mental Performance Index(TM) (MPI(TM)), Dr. John F. Murray, who works with NFL players and has used the index throughout the last four NFL seasons to quantify the degree to which a team performs to perfection.

The complimentary Super Bowl numerology by “The Football Shrink,” is posted on his website: Seattle (.566) scored better than Pittsburgh (.530) in the playoffs, and held their opponents to a much lower MPI score (.436) than Pittsburgh (.478).

The Seahawks were absolutely remarkable on defense, where they posted a .598 to .505 advantage over Pittsburgh. They also held a slight advantage on offense (.551 to .535) and total pressure (.624 to .564). However, the Steelers scored slightly higher in offensive pressure situations (.633 to .616) and were better in special teams play (.584 to .531).

Taken together, it appears that Pittsburgh is going to have to play almost flawless football to win this game, and they must win the battle of turnovers. Seattle has performed much better overall.

The 44-year-old Ph.D. licensed sport/performance psychologist in Palm Beach assigns points on each play for “focused execution,” and “pressure management” and game totals range from .000 to 1.000 (perfection).

“Scoring at .600 is excellent,” said Murray. “But to a sport psychologist, no team ever reaches perfection.” Seattle’s .566 is almost as good as it gets.

As new Chiefs coach Herman Edwards once said, “On every play somebody screws up.” Many good football coaches are now encouraging their teams to place their focus on one play at a time. The MPI measures how well a team does this. Its power comes from the number of plays in a game (approximately 150) and the inclusion of mental factors in the scoring.

The MPI accurately forecast the blowout upset win by Tampa Bay over Oakland three years ago (in Arizona Republic), and forecast “extremely close games” the past two years. Two years ago, the game was tied with 4 seconds remaining. Last year was the first time the game was tied entering the 4th quarter.

The MPI has been featured by ESPN The Magazine (December, 2002) and Murray has appeared on hundreds of radio and television stations to discuss the MPI and sport psychology. Last year, Dr. Murray appeared on ESPN Radio’s affiliates in Dallas, TX and Blacksburg, VA, Ron Jacober’s award winning “Sports on Sunday Morning” on KMOX in St. Louis, Mo., Canada’s largest radio program, and Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg on the Ball” with Bob Goldsholl. He will again appear on Bloomberg Radio Saturday January 28 six times, and in multiple updates every day leading up to the game.

Murray provides lectures, mental coaching, and sport psychology services to athletes and teams in many sports. He has helped NFL players. He authored “Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game,” endorsed by Lindsay Davenport, the most successful tennis player over the past six years, and Vincent Spadea credited Murray for helping him overcome the longest losing streak in tennis history and winning his first tournament in Scottsdale.

Dr. Murray is available for interviews

John F. Murray, PhD
Licensed Sport Psychologist
340 Royal Poinciana Way Suite 339J
Palm Beach, FL 33480
Telephone: 561-596-9898

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


Pioneer Press – Jan 21, 2006 – Marcus Fuller – Gophers need to adjust mind-set – Sports psychologists agree – U men need to stop dwelling on defeats – Dan Monson is starting to sound more like a motivational speaker than a basketball coach.

The University of Minnesota’s leader talked before Friday’s practice about “staying in the moment” and “looking at the glass as being half full.”

The losses are piling up for his Gophers (9-6, 0-4 Big Ten Conference), and the biggest reason is the team’s waning confidence.
If his players don’t change their mind-set, Monson knows they can’t expect to get their first Big Ten win tonight against Michigan at Williams Arena.

Monson doesn’t want his players focusing on defeats. But he did see positive signs in Wednesday’s 76-72 triple-overtime loss at Iowa.
“I thought they did a great job at Iowa of staying within the moment,” he said. ” You can’t look at the past, because that doesn’t help your confidence. You can’t look into the future and look down the road to all of the tough games you have. Especially in a town like this. The glass is always half empty. As I told the kids, all you hear about is we’re 0-4.”

Will Monson’s attempts to keep the Gophers focused pay dividends? Sports psychologists agree with his direction.

“It sounds like he’s taking a great approach,” said Jeff Janssen, a peak performance consultant who has worked with college programs such as Arizona, North Carolina, Stanford and Duke.

“If you start dwelling on the negative, it just gets bigger and bigger. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. A lot of times I just tell guys to go back to being an 8-year-old kid again. I tell them just to have fun.”
Greg Cylkowski of Little Canada, a human behavior analyst, has worked with several Gophers teams, including the women’s basketball team. He theorized why the Minnesota men couldn’t pull out the win at Iowa.

“Were they enjoying themselves?” he asked. “They should have been thinking that this is the kind of game we want to be in. You have to seize the moment. Sometimes you have to win ugly and just on grit.”
Last season’s Gophers might not have been as talented as the current edition. But Monson knew he could usually count on winning those “ugly” games.

“Last year we kind of got that identity,” he said. “We’re starting to do that here by making the games ugly. Now we just have to win them.”
A win against the Wolverines (12-3, 2-2) would go a long way toward helping the Gophers regain confidence. But Dr. John F. Murray said that’s only one step.

Murray, a prominent sports psychologist from Palm Beach, Fla., recommends four steps for building up a team:

1. Modeling � trying to emulate another great team.
2. Start fresh � look out for mood and intensity in games.
3. Self talk � watch out for negative thoughts.
4. Winning.

Despite failing to finish off the Hawkeyes, Minnesota saw some positives.

The Gophers got an energy boost from freshman Jonathan Williams, who had a career-best 11 points and 10 rebounds in 33 minutes off the bench.

Monson is expected to start Williams tonight against a big Michigan team.

Minnesota played well defensively, holding Iowa to 39 percent shooting, 1 of 20 from three-point range. But the Gophers couldn’t overcome another poor performance at the free-throw line. They shot 54 percent for the game and 5 of 12 in overtime. They rank last in the Big Ten in free-throw shooting (58 percent).

Murray said problems at the line could be solved by coming up with a routine that takes the focus away from thinking about the shot.
“I got interviewed about why (Indianapolis Colts) kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed the field goal against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week,” he said. “Free throws are the same thing. It usually comes down to thinking too much. It gets in the way. If you get caught up in a ritual or routine, your shot just becomes automatic. You just do it.”

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


Bloomberg Wire Service – Jan 18, 2006 – Scott Soshnick – Every parent who has a child playing sports should spend a day with Dr. Lyle Micheli, director of the Division of Sports Medicine at Children’s Hospital in Boston.

If they watched Micheli poke and prod kids with scarred knees, elbows and psyches, perhaps mom and dad wouldn’t be so quick to press their children into competition.

“Let me use a clinical term to describe parents today,” says Kevin Leman, a psychologist in Tucson, Arizona, and the author of 28 books on family dynamics. “They’re nuts.”

That’s especially true when it comes to kids and sports, says Leman, whose take is buttressed by the endless x-rays and MRI scans examined by Micheli. Some 30 percent of Micheli’s visitors suffer from a preventable overuse injury called osteochondritis dissecans, or OCD, where a piece of cartilage or bone breaks off in a joint.

“Parents get so caught up in coaches telling them their kid is promising,” Micheli says. “Parents push more, the coaches push more and kids are reluctant to say anything. It can be catastrophic.”

You need only attend a youth soccer game to catch a parental meltdown. Fist fights in the stands aren’t unusual. Parents have even beaten referees senseless over perceived bad calls.

Need to Play

One of Micheli’s patients last week, a teenage girl who injured her hip on the basketball court, kept playing because a teammate fouled out and the coach said she was needed.

“She just NEEDED to play,” Micheli says after leaving the examination room, mimicking the overbearing parent’s explanation.

Another patient, a 17-year-old female distance runner and lacrosse player, feared disappointing her mother if she didn’t participate in a track and field event. She was there because her foot hurt. She was close to developing a stress fracture, Micheli told her.

Most troubling, though, was the 10-year-old boy, a soccer player, who already had been through OCD surgery on one knee. He was lucky this time around: no operation needed.

“He’s got what I call thick-chart syndrome,” Micheli says. “That’s when I’ve been seeing a patient for a while and the paperwork piles up.”

Micheli’s horror stories include a 9-year-old gymnast with a stress fracture in her back. He also treated a boy with soreness in both elbows. The boy’s father, it turns out, had the child throwing 50 pitches a night, left-handed and right-handed, on top of what he was already doing at practice and in games. Hard to believe his elbows hurt.

Lucky Ones

The kids who make it to Dr. Micheli might be the lucky ones.

While surgery certainly isn’t fun, at least it corrects the problem.

What about the kids whose problems are emotional, not physical? A limp is easier to spot than depression. There’s a good chance those kids will never reach someone like Dr. John F. Murray, a Palm Beach, Florida, sports psychologist who frets that parents are doing more harm than good.

“What is below the surface is much more pervasive and longer lasting than a twisted ankle or broken arm,” Murray says. “Kids will do anything to please their parents and coaches.”

{Note from Dr. Murray: The key here is balance. Parents need to be smart and to know that their kids play sports first for the love it. Scott does a great job in this article of showing the ugly side of youth sports and the dangers of pushing kids who don’t enjoy it, or acting without proper knowledge about injuries and limitations. This is an area where sport psychologists often help parents find a balance. Many kids do love their sports, and benefit from direction and a push at times. But irresponsible training that leads to injury or depression does nobody any good. If your kid truly loves it you know you’re doing a good job. Seek professional advice from a good coach, physician or sport psychologist if you have doubts}

Bob Boone has a unique perspective on sports and adolescence. Not only did his father, Ray, play Major League Baseball, but so do two of his sons, Aaron and Bret.

No Fun

According to Boone, his father never pushed him to play baseball, which is probably why he succeeded at it. Likewise, he never imposed his wishes on his kids. In fact, Aaron played basketball and football, along with baseball, through high school.

“If you put too much pressure on them it’s no fun for kids to play. It becomes work,” Boone says. “Not many people succeed in life without enjoying what they’re doing.”

Some kids are so desperate to stop playing that they fake injury.

There have been cases, Micheli says, where kids complain of chronic pain even though tests reveal there’s nothing physically wrong with them. It’s easier to fake an injury than to tell a parent who has spent time and money on private lessons that the desire to play has waned.

`Honorable Way’

“They use an injury as a way out,” Micheli says. “It’s the honorable way out, so to speak.”

Hard-core sports fans might remember the cautionary tale of Todd Marinovich, whose father, a former National Football League player, drilled his son from infancy to become a quarterback. Marinovich led the University of Southern California to the 1990 Rose Bowl as a freshman. Problems surfaced soon after. The kid who never tried junk food or watched cartoons was arrested on drug charges the following season. Repeated arrests ended his brief NFL career.

“Parents aren’t protectors today,” Leman says. “They’re pushers.”

Keep pushing and don’t be surprised if one day Dr. Micheli is pulling on your child’s knee and asking where it hurts.

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


Healthology – Jan 18, 2006 – Eric Sabo – The Power of Visualization – They had tried everything for their pain: prescription drugs, alternative remedies, even hypnosis. Nothing seemed to work. So, in a research lab in Oakland, California, a handful of volunteers agreed to be strapped under a giant brain scan as part of an elaborate experiment to train their mind to feel less pain.

“It’s like going to a gym,” explains Dr. Christopher deCharms, who led the experiment. “You need to exercise a specific muscle group.”

In this case, the small area of gray matter that controls our perceptions of pain. The volunteers in the study made use of a breakthrough device known as functional MRI, a type of telescope that can peer deep into the inner workings of the brain. Scientists continue to find new uses for the technology, with the greatest promise coming in spotting the early damage from stroke and Alzheimer’s.

The team that deCharms headed up is the first to find that MRI may have some use as a high-tech pain killer. With the proper training, long-term chronic pain sufferers were able to focus on the key source of their pain�represented on MRI scans by bright, reddish dots�and then change the perceptions of how they felt, for better or worse.

The results are published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. DeCharms, who works for a private company that sells the technology, wants to manage expectations.

“This is a potentially new area,” he says. “We don’t want to hype the results.”

Indeed, the machines themselves can run several million dollars apiece, and not every hospital has access to them. MRI imaging is routinely used to help with the early treatment of stroke, where these expensive scans can be life saving.

“This is not something to do for a headache,” says deCharms.

Still, the findings add to the growing interest of using the mind to overcome pain. Recent studies suggest that meditation, and even the much maligned placebo effect, may have considerable power at naturally relieving achy joints and sore muscles. Unlike these strategies, however, deCharms says that MRI specifically pinpoints the source of trouble.

“This is not a more elaborate way to get them to feel better,” he insists.

As part of a study, 14 chronic pain sufferers were placed under the hulking machine, which has the feel of a full body X-ray. Another 36 healthy volunteers were also put through the same tests to act as a control group. The scanning lasts an hour or so. Afterwards, everyone was provided detailed snapshots of their brain.

The region that controls pain perception is known as the rostral anterior cingulate cortex. Looking at the scans, the pain sufferers were taught to focus on this area and essentially control its activity, whether it was adding to the bright colors on the MRI scan or making them fade away. They were then put through the machine again and asked to rate their perception of pain.

When the pain sufferers deliberately caused this region to light up or go darker, their perceptions of pain went up and down as well. The exercise, explains deCharms, was not a trick.

The healthy volunteers were split into four separate groups to determine if they could control their pain trough the same techniques. Those who were purposely shown the wrong images failed to alter later MRI scans, as well as influence their feelings on pain.

DeCharms says this type of mental training is a little like playing tennis. “When you mimic the moves on the court, you get better,” he says. “If you can’t visualize what’s going on in your brain, you can’t mimic the cognitive process.”

Dr. Brian Berman, who directs the complementary medicine program at the University of Maryland, calls the MRI experiments encouraging. He was not involved in the current study, but Berman and his colleagues recently found that meditation could lessen the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.

“Any way to help patients help themselves is good,” he says.

Still, the chance to hone in on the source of the problem could prove even more far reaching than a broad, mind-altering effort.

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


Newsday – Jan 17, 2006 – John Hanc – Fitness, Heath/Science – If ever Maria Diglio needed a friend, it was on July 23, 2005.

The previous morning, Diglio, a 41-year-old attorney from Garden City, had left her two children with her ex-husband and driven upstate to Lake Placid to compete in the Ironman USA triathlon. The night before the race, she was beset by the usual doubts of anyone attempting a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2- mile run. Could she go the distance? Had she done everything she needed to? Was she crazy to even attempt this?

Lucky for her, there was someone around to quiet her anxieties: her friend and training partner, Caroline Barry from Port Washington. They had met in early 2004 while training for a shorter-distance triathlon and developed a close friendship. Barry, also a 41-year-old single, working mom, had come to Lake Placid not to race but to be Diglio’s support crew, cheerleader, confidante.

“She was such a calming influence, like a rock, steady and supportive,” Diglio recalled. “Any doubts I had, she was always there ready to encourage me.”

“I’d gone through it myself,” said Barry, a teacher’s aide who had completed her first Ironman in 2004, in Florida. “So I sort of knew what someone needed to have done for them. It was great to give back.”

On the morning of the race, Barry rose with Diglio at 4:30 a.m. and accompanied her to the start on nearby Mirror Lake. She then stayed on the course for most of the 15 hours, 20 minutes and 30 seconds it took Diglio to complete the Ironman, hooting and hollering every time her friend passed by on bike or foot. And when Diglio finished, Barry was there, as well, to offer a well-deserved hug.

“She really took care of me,” Diglio said. “As you get older, it’s hard to make friends. I just consider myself so lucky I was able to find her.”

Whether your goal is to finish a triathlon or a walk around the block, finding a friend can be a critical step in sticking with an exercise or weight loss program.

“It is absolutely necessary to have some support and motivation like this to be successful,” said psychologist Dr. Howard Rankin, author of “The TOPS Way to Weight Loss” (Hay House, 2004). That support, Rankin added, doesn’t have to come from a formal support group; small groups or individual friends can also provide it.

“Social support is a very, very powerful force,” agreed sport psychologist Dr. John Murray of Palm Beach, Fla. “There is an enormous benefit in having the teamwork, the shared goals, the positive motivation from others.”

After years of false starts in exercise, long-time friends Kim Murphy and Kris Carpenter of Vienna, Va., decided to test this theory: The two trained together with the goal of completing a half-marathon (13.1 miles) foot race in Virginia Beach.

“After finishing the half, we were so struck by the fact that we had finally succeeded at exercising consistently,” Murphy said. “We realized that if it could work for us … the concept of having a friend as the partner, … it could work for others, as well.”

So Murphy and Carpenter wrote a book, “The Best Friends Guide to Getting Fit” (Capital Books, 2005). In it, they offer no new weight loss “secrets” or “revolutionary” workout programs; rather, they assert a basic truth that, depending on your point of view toward exercise, can either be described as “misery loves company” or something slightly more ennobling.

“We believe in the power of friendship,” the women write. “Having a friend helps curb waning desires and motivation. It gives you a reason to go. The friendship seduces you into being consistent [in your training].”

It’s a sensible idea, and yet one that stands in stark contrast to the still-common notion of exercise as a hardship that must be endured alone, a solitary battle in which you wage “war” against your waistline, your sedentary habits or simply the progression of time. It’s true that some people prefer to train alone, but if you have gone the solo exercise route and failed, maybe it’s time to try with a little help from your friends. Indeed, it may change your whole attitude toward the pursuit of fitness.

“You go to your workout because you want to see your friend, have some fun and a few laughs, and you’re looking forward to having a great conversation,” Murphy said. “It nurtures your soul.”

Certainly, that’s been the case for training soul mates Diglio and Barry, who plan to compete in the 2006 Ironman triathlon. This time, however, they’re going to do it together.

“That’s what really makes it exciting,” Barry said. And, in some ways, more doable: The two are already discussing how to best maximize their time – such as bringing together their four kids and a baby-sitter while they do long training rides or runs. And on race day in July, they’ll stick close together again in Lake Placid, this time helping each other meet their long-distance fitness challenge.

“It’s not a competition with us,” Barry said. “It’s a partnership.”

How to pick the right workout buddy

Experts agree that the social support of a good training partner can increase the likelihood of reaching your exercise goals. Here are some tips on how to find the right friend for fitness:

Choose someone who is good company: “Because you will spend large chunks of time with this person, be sure it’s someone you can be completely yourself with,” say Kris Carpenter and Kim Murphy, co-authors of “The Best Friends Guide to Getting Fit” (Capital Books). “Pick someone you trust … a friend you can laugh with … a person you can rely on.”

Choose someone on the level – your level: Hooking up for a run with that friend of yours who has done 10 marathons, or weight-lifting with the buddy who can already bench-press 300 pounds may only work if you’re equally accomplished. “You have to be careful to choose someone who is at your level,” said sport psychologist Dr. John Murray of Palm Beach, Fla., “or the difference in reps, laps or time will bore the more advanced one and overwhelm the less advanced.”

Choose someone who can relate: A successful training partnership doesn’t have to be between people of the same age or station in life, but it sure helps, as Caroline Barry and Maria Diglio – local Ironman triathletes and training partners who are both 41-year-old single moms – can attest to. “A lot of our friends do the Ironman,” Barry said, “but having a friend who is in the same boat as me is really helpful. She understands.”

Choose someone close to you (in more ways than one): “The best place to look for a training partner is amongst friends who are trying to do the same thing,” said psychologist Dr. Howard Rankin. “With friends you already have the necessary bonds in place for effective communication and support.” But that closeness also means proximity – the likelihood of training consistently with a friend who lives down the block is greater than with the one who lives an hour’s drive away.

Can’t find a friend to exercise with? Visit www.exercise, a free Web service that matches up members with local people of similar fitness goals and abilities. (The Web site currently has about 10,000 members from the metropolitan area).

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


Jan 9, 2006 – Read this first if you do not understand the MPI. It’s perhaps the best explanation. The below press release is longer and more detailed


Dr. John F. Murray, the Palm Beach sport performance psychologist known as the ‘Football Shrink’ and called the ‘Freud of Football’ by the Washington Post, will publish scores of every moment in the NFL playoffs this year on his website. He will use his trademarked ‘Mental Performance Index’ (MPI) for the fourth year in a row to rate team performances. The MPI is the first mental scoring system developed for team sports, and accurately forecast each of the past three Super Bowl games contrary to public consensus.

Palm Beach, FL — January 9, 2005 — With the NFL playoffs having finally arrived, Dr. John F. Murray, AKA “football shrink” and “Freud of Football,” (Washington Post, 2005) is taking his unique scoring system known as the “Mental Performance Index (MPI),” public this year. He is publishing MPI statistics for every NFL playoff game and the Super Bowl on his website at

The MPI is the first measure of overall performance including for mental factors developed in sports, and in this case America’s biggest sport of football.

As reported in America’s number two selling sports magazine in December, 2002, Murray developed the MPI and first began broadcasting MPI scores on his Miami radio station.

Murray, a licensed clinical and sport performance psychologist and NFL team consultant, created the MPI to help football coaches understand their team’s performances better. The MPI also demonstrates the extreme importance of mental factors in football by including in the scoring such factors as “pressure management,” “focused execution,” and “reduction of mental errors.”

In three very public tests of the accuracy of the MPI on radio and television stations worldwide, the MPI has correctly estimated the future performance of the teams in the national championship (Super Bowl XXXVII 2003, Super Bowl XXXVIII 2004, and Super Bowl XXXIX 2005), beating the spread each time, going counter to public opinion each time, and accurately forecasting the course of each game. More information is available at

In 2003 the Oakland Raiders were favored to win easily over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The MPI, however, indicated that Tampa Bay was performing at a much higher level than Oakland. This was published in over ten major newspapers and broadcast on hundreds of radio stations worldwide including Bloomberg Radio, CNN Radio, and ABC Radio. Tampa Bay easily won the game.

In 2004 and 2005, MPI analyses showed the two competing teams to be relatively equal, forecasting extremely close games both times even though the New England Patriots were predicted to win by at least 7 points in each game. Murray’s analyses were reported on an even larger number of print and broadcasting media outlets including the biggest sports radio statons in several major markets, ESPN Radio in several markets, Canadian national radio, and hundreds of programs including Bloomberg Radio for the 2nd and 3rd years in a row.

How accurate was the MPI? The 2004 game was tied with 4 seconds remaining (3 point New England win) and the 2005 game was the first game in Super Bowl history to be tied entering the final quarter of play. New England again won by 3. Former NASA rocket scientist and internet guru from MIT Dr. Cliff Kurtzman, who publishes the “Tennis Server” where Murray produced a monthly sport psychology column from 1995-2001, wrote a public congratulations letter to Dr. Murray for the “MPI’s extreme accuracy three years in a row” after last year’s game.

The MPI goes way beyond theory and journalism. Murray has actually worked with NFL teams and players, and has received many endorsements from top coaches and athletes. He will appear on national radio and television stations for the 4th year in a row to discuss his MPI findings prior to the Super Bowl. Murray has been invited for the 4th straight year on host Bob Goldsholl’s “Bloomberg on the Ball.”

Beginning today, MPI scores will be available after every playoff weekend on Murray’s website at Murray will provide all the primary MPI scores including a total score, scores for offense, defense and special teams, pressure scores for offense and defense, and a total pressure score. Murray enters data into a computer program as he is watching and rating every play of every game in the playoffs.

Readers can await Murray’s detailed interpretation on the website and radio programs before the Super Bowl, or draw their own conclusions from the weekly statistics he provides.

“The purpose of the MPI is to demonstrate how important the mental game is to any performance situation, and especially a team sport like football,” said Murray. “Coaches and players routinely claim that the mental game accounts for anywhere from 50% to 95% of performance and ultimate outcome, but then spend less than 2% of their training on mental skills,” said Murray. “This is probably because there are so few authentic sport psychologists and many old school coaches who are not comfortable changing.”

“Since the MPI has been so accurate three years in a row on the biggest sports stage in America, I think people are finally waking up. Innovative coaches like Nick Saban of the Miami Dolphins, for example, already tell their teams how important it is to stay in the moment and just perform your absolute best on one play and in the moment at hand. This is more than cliche. It is precisely what the MPI measures, performance in the moment, with a logical rating system that includes for mental factors and has been refined over time.”

Dr. Murray is available for interviews. MPI scores and analysis will be provided on the Monday following games at

Contact Information:

John F. Murray, Ph.D.
340 Royal Poinciana Way Suite 339 J
Palm Beach, FL 33480
Tel: 561-596-9898
Fax: 561-805-8662
Email: e-mail protected from spam bots

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

Jan 8, 2006 – Dr. Murray is interviewed by Paul Myers of Radio France about Sport Psychology, Reslience, and the Martina Hingis Comeback.

To Hear it Just Click Here. Let it load (about 1-2 minutes with DSL) and then forward ahead to 19:25 in the program.

If this will not work, follow these instructions and get it off the rfi website directly by clicking here when ready. At the Radio France website, (1) Choose English language at the top, (2) Scroll down on the right to a “Listen” link for time 14h-15h GMT, (3) Select Real Player or Windows Media Player to listen, (4) When the broadcast begins, fast forward to 19:25 for “Sports Insight.” The interview topic is Martina Hingis, sport psychology and resilience. Enjoy!

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


Happy Herald – Jan 6, 2006 – Sports Matters Column – By John F. Murray – From his office in Palm Beach, Murray provides both counseling and
performance enhancement services to athletes and executives. He is
author of the best-selling “Smart Tennisâ€Â? and a frequent speaker.
Please inquire at: 561-596-9898 or
Dr. Murray’s website is at:

Pro golfer Brad Faxon said “twenty years ago if you were working with a sport psychologist they said you were crazy, but today if you’re not working with one you’re crazy.â€Â? Let’s look a little closer.

The textbook definition of sport psychology is: (a) the study of the psychological and mental factors that influence and are influenced by participation and performance in sport, exercise, and physical activity, and (b) the application of the knowledge gained through this study to everyday settings.

Famous philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer stated that each new truth in history passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. And third, it is accepted as self-evident. As Brad Faxon’s reflection illustrates, sport psychology has teed off into Schopenhauer’s third phase. While the word “psychologyâ€Â? used to indicate mental illness, it now reflects success with high performers. Athletes and executives use sport psychology to a competitive advantage. Let’s see some examples.

A pro golfer called me after repeatedly forfeiting leads in the homestretch. We altered his perception of pressure and pre-shot routine. He became one of the better clutch players on the PGA tour!
Tennis pro Vince Spadea hired me after his record 21-match losing streak. After implementing a program of mental coaching, he rose from no. 250 to no. 18 and won his first ATP Tour tournament in Scottsdale last year, beating Andy Roddick and James Blake along the way!

Alex Rodriguez, the highest paid baseball player whose father abandoned his family when he was 9, called therapy, incredible thing that helped me discover a different life.He donated $200,000 to fund mental health programs for children.

The age of sport psychology has dawned. This column will hopefully inspire you with stories, insights, and lessons from an abundant resource!

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


Dec 29, 2005 – Click Here to See the Jan./Feb. 2006 Article in Tennis Week on Dr. John F. Murray’s Mental Training Auction

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