Jan 27, 2007 – Mental Performance Index

The Mental Performance Index or “MPI” is the first ever measure of mental performance used in sport (in this case American Football).

The index was developed by Dr. John F. Murray, a licensed clinical and sport performance psychologist in 2002 to demonstrate the importance of mental factors in football such as “pressure management,” “focused execution,” and “reduction of mental errors.” In the first three major public tests of the accuracy of the MPI on radio and television stations worldwide, the MPI almost perfectly estimated the ultimate performance of the teams in the Super Bowl (Super Bowl XXXVII 2003, Super Bowl XXXVIII 2004, and Super Bowl XXXIX 2005), beating the spread each time, going counter to public opinion, and correctly estimating the ultimate course of the games. In 2003 the Oakland Raiders were favored to win by 9 over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The MPI showed that Tampa Bay, by contrast, was much better. In 2004 and 2005, the MPI analysis showed the teams to be relatively equal and forecasted a very close contest even though the New England Patriots were predicted to win by at least 7 points in each game. 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 won by 3. In 2006 (Super Bowl XL), the MPI accurately forecast that Seattle would perform better on offense and defense and worse on special teams than the Pittsburgh Steelers. The MPI forecast that Seattle would perform better was correct, but for the first time in Super Bowl history, the lower performing team on the MPI won the game. At least 20 newspapers wrote about the success of the MPI before the game, and ABC TV in West Palm Beach interviewed Dr. Murray from his Palm Beach office about the system. Bloomberg Radio has interviewed Dr. Murray about the Super Bowl four years in a row. Seattle Coach Mike Holmgrem stated after the game that his team had to face two opponents, the Steelers and the officials. It was an extremely rare game filled with mistakes, and a few huge plays (a flea flicker, long pass, and record breaking 75 yard run from scrimmage) accounted for all of Pittsburgh’s points. Seattle missed countless opportunities to put the game away despite performing better. The MPI forecast against the spread fell to 3-1. The MPI will continue to be used each year to forecast the performance of the teams entering the Super Bowl.

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