The Happy Herald – Sports Matters Column – Oct 1, 2006 – by John F. Murray, Ph.D. -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 Tennis and a frequent speaker.
Please inquire at: 561-596-9898 or
Dr. Murray’s website is at:

NFL Coaches Lack Real Toughness

Im fed up with many NFL coaches. At any given time Im working with a few NFL Players. Ive helped starting quarterbacks break slumps, tight-ends decide not to quit, field goal kickers kick anxiety, and running backs stay out of trouble. Despite the obvious benefits of mental coaching and sport psychology services, the NFL stands as the last great closed-door fraternity, or some say mafia, in sports. Coaches somehow perceive mental coaching and counseling as weakness. Tough guys, they reason, dont talk. They just shut up and knock someones head off. i been personally telephoned a few times by NFL coaches to come into team headquarters and help manage a mental crisis but the vast majority of my referrals come from the players themselves or the players’ families or agents. The truth is that NFL coaches are afraid of change. As strong and as tough as they supposedly are, this is sad and ironic. Their controlling natures make them very weak and in this way they lack toughness. This prevents players from getting the help they need from legitimate and licensed sports psychologists. This also hurts their teams. I have seen it up close many many times. Ive been on national television talking about this and still the progress is slow. Kudos to Dr. Z at Sports Illustrated. After the recent TO apparent suicide attempt Z wrote a great article entitled NFLs Mental Problem: Teams Cat Deal with Player Psychological Issues ( September 26 2006). I went on ESPN and NBC television to discuss this. Here is what I propose. The new brand of young and smart NFL coach needs to get tougher. By tougher I mean they need to wake up and hire a sport psychologist at the beginning of training camp to work with all the players on mental skills development, and counseling as needed. In-house is best. What is it going to take to wake these coaches from their slumber? A suicide on national tv by a star player? Years of team choking and ineptitude? Hello coaches! There is a whole field out there just waiting to be tapped. It is based on many years of research and practice. It is designed to help you win games and help your players stay out of trouble. It will help your players be much tougher than they are. You will be happy when they knock their opponents heads off with more confidence and focus.

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