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 Tennis� 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.� 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 “psychology� 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.