Mental Equipment Syndicated Column – Dec 1, 1998 – Dr. John F. Murray – Every now and then it’s a good idea to pause, take a nice deep breath and examine where you’ve been. Whether in tennis, on Wall Street, or in the operating room, performers all need time to reflect and view the scene from afar. It’s so easy to be caught up in daily challenges and lose the long-term focus. Since repetition facilitates learning, let’s reach deep into our mental equipment box and pull out the oldies as well as the more recent goodies. I only hope this is more fun than home movies!


July: High Performance on the Net

The Mental Equipment column made its debut in July, 1995 when the words internet and email were still foreign to many. I stumbled upon the Tennis Server that year and decided it would be a great place to post a few articles. It’s been so much fun that I haven’t stopped! The first article introduced the cutting edge science and profession of sport psychology. I hope by now you understand that sport psychology is a great source of knowledge and well being for many competitive endeavors. Benefits are beginning to be realized but many still have not fully heard the sport psychology message.

August: Daydreaming with Purpose

The powerful tool of imagery was introduced. Players at all levels use this high-tech weapon to keep their mental and physical skills sharp.

September: Optimizing Arousal

Many considered this an attempt to upstage Viagra before FDA approval, but I had to reassure readers that I was just helping them manage their intensity level. Those who heard this improved considerably!

October: Quickness

Mental factors improve quickness. Better information processing and court positioning adds a speed advantage that is often underestimated.

November: Attention!

How important is proper focus and concentration in performance? Need I say more?

December: Pressure Cooker

Competitive pressure is inevitable to sincere performers. Learning to manage this pressure is the key.


January: Confidence

Confidence is never inherited, but born of hard work and knowledge. Everyone including your caddy has the ability to gain supreme confidence.

February: Know Thyself

Ways of increasing self-understanding were demonstrated.

March: Trip Report 1

I shared with you my sport psychology seminar at the ATP Tour HQs in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.

April: Adult Fun

I described how adults have fun with tennis camps and sport psychology seminars.

May: Target Practice

Without goals you’re lost. I emphasized the value of goal-setting and some of the principles involved in setting them properly.

June: Playing with Your Mind

You emailed many examples about how players use mind games to gain a competitive edge. I enjoyed your stories and printed several.

July: Trip Report 2

Back to Ponte Vedra Beach to see the wonderful grass courts and emphasize mental toughness to a new group.

August: Getting Even

Anger kills you rather than your opponent. Ways of dealing with anger were explored.

September: Non-trivial Pursuits

Healthy motivation was examined. Being “success oriented” gives you the “go for it” attitude of Dan Marino in a last second drive.

October: Ouch!!

Injuries are an unfortunate reality in athletics. You were shown some attitudes and techniques to reduce injury and enhance recovery.

November: Fear

What were you afraid of? Mental Equipment was there to conquer it.

December: Too Close to Victory

Players often get a big lead and then fold. A few tips were presented to close out matches with the “killer instinct.”


January: Good Conversation

Talking with yourself may seem strange, but if you’re gonna do it make sure the discussion is positive for both of you!

February: Beyond Sport

Tips were provided on deriving personal growth from tennis, and this applies to many other performance situations too.

March: The Thriller

Although the thrill of sport can temporarily vanish, ways to restore the thrill were introduced.

April: Keep on Learning

You were encouraged to find a top notch tennis professional.

May: Masterful

Becoming a master is a worthy pursuit even if your name isn’t Jack Nicklaus. Just having a sense of mastery works wonders.

June: Helping Hands

Social support carries enormous benefits. Lean on others and readily reciprocate.

July: De-stress

Ways of managing stress were offered.

August: Team Leadership

Qualities of top leaders were examined, and tips given to enhance leadership in any team setting.

September: Stop Being Perfect!

The perfectionist is often furthest from his or her title. Ways of overcoming perfectionism were explored so that true success could develop.

October: Breathing Technique

Improving your breathing technique enhances your performance.

November: Dog Eat Dog

Ways of maximizing competitiveness in tennis were examined.

December: Advanced Sensory Processing

Since reality is multi-modal, your imagery sessions should involve as many senses as possible too.


January: The College Scene

Sport psychology services in a major university were examined.

February: Practice Sessions

Practice like you want to play.

March: Performance Focus

The age-old wisdom of a performance over winning focus was emphasized.

April: Moody Today?

Moods affect well-being and performance. Some tips on changing maladaptive moods were offered.

May: College Tennis

A brief introduction to sport psychology services in college was provided.

June: Routine Business

Many top performers have well defined pre-performance routines. You might benefit from them as well.

July: Go see the Counselor

Talking with a counselor, therapist, or sport psychologist was encouraged as a step toward well being.

August: The Rational Thinker (often not!)

Are all performers rational? Reducing irrational notions of doom and gloom often puts you back on track and keeps you there.

September: Listen up Mom and Dad

Advice was offered for parents.

October: Mindsets for Learning

Proper attitudes to encourage and enhance learning were given.

November: Burnout

Ways of understanding and combating burnout in sport were offered.

Looking Forward

We really have spent a lot of time together. I would like to hear from you ALL about which tips are most and least helpful. Your feedback to me using this form is appreciated and crucial in developing ideas for future topics. There are thousands of articles that could be written on the psychology of performance! I hope this doesn’t discourage you, but helps you develop an even greater thirst for mental equipment. Remember that your opponent may be reading about sport psychology too!

Over the past 3 1/2 years I’ve really enjoyed sharing Mental Equipment with you, and there is so much more to learn. I look forward to introducing my new book to you. It’s entitled “Smart Tennis: How to Play and Win the Mental Game.” Advanced ordering information and the Smart Tennis Tip of the Week are available at Dr. John’s Smart Tennis Book page at: http://www.smarttennis.com. Comments regarding Smart Tennis should be directed to me using this form.