Jan 23, 2006 – Dr. Murray Discusses Sports Choking on ABC’s Good Morning America

See Updated MPI Scores Here

Special to JohnFMurray.com – You can measure NFL team performance scientifically, and it will usually show you how two teams will compete when they play. You can’t always predict the winner.

Sports Psychologist John F. Murray demonstrates this each year with his Mental Performance Index, a statistically balanced analysis of every play of every playoff game. He is not as interested in the outcome of a game as in the one play at a time performance of each playoff team. And his scoring takes into account pressure and other subtle mental factors that are important but rarely measured.

The result? For three years now his MPI has been right on target. In the first year, the MPI showed that the Bucs were a far better performing team than Oakland, and Murray guessed that Tampa Bay would win by at least two touchdowns. In the second and third years he showed that the games were extremely close. They were indeed.

What is even more intriguing is that these three estimates of performance were all contrary to the conventional wisdom. Oakland was supposed to win easily three years ago, and New England was supposed to win much more easily the past two years according to the experts. The experts do not know the MPI.

When the drums roll, the bands play, the fans cheer and the teams fight, who will win? This is very hard to say when the teams are almost equal in performance. You might as well flip a coin.

Smart coaches these days are training their players to perform well on every single play and not worry about outcome or final scores. Winning is the obvious goal, but good results come more frequently to those who play solid football moment to moment and worry less about the score. This may seem obvious, but it is only now starting to be adopted by the best NFL, college and high school coaches. It is brilliant in its truth and simplicity, and the MPI measures precisely how well a team keeps this moment to moment focus.

It will be interesting again this year to see if the MPI is correct in showing how the game will play out. Dr. Murray will let you know before the game. His theory that consistent high performance is the best way to ensure victory may give you a sneak peek at a winner. But don’t bet on it if the numbers are extremely close.

There are also rare exceptions when a few huge plays change the outcome of a game. A perfect example is last weekend’s wildcard playoff game. MPI analyses of every play showed that the Tampa Bay Bucs were the better team. They outperformed the Redskins – but still lost.

But the vast majority of the time (95% estimates Murray) the better team on the MPI ultimately wins the game. It always shows which team actually performed better regardless of outcome.

After the playoffs, MPI data will again show you precisely how the Super Bowl teams stack up. And if the past three years are any indication, you might want to pay close attention to the MPI regardless of what the oddsmakers are saying.

See Updated MPI Scores Here

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