Monitoring Your Mood
Dr. John Murray
How has your mood been lately? Does your mood affect your game?
This month, let's see how your mood compares with the moods reported
by many successful elite competitors. Much like studying great
players for ideas to improve your serve, your focus on mood will help
you discover some terrific mental keys to success!
Mood is usually defined as a transient feeling, emotional tone, or
general attitude. As a temporary emotional state, mood fluctuates
depending upon circumstances. For example, a disturbing phone call,
new romance, or tennis championship could rapidly alter your mood.
Mood is sensitive to inner experiences, environmental factors, and
our appraisal of events, whether positive or negative. For some
individuals mood remains relatively stable, while for others mood is
much less predictable. Extreme mood disturbances are classified as
psychological disorders (e.g., depression, bipolar disorder) and
require the assistance of mental health professionals. For our
purposes, let's focus on the mood patterns that occur every day among
non-disturbed healthy athletes.
Mood - Performance Relationship
Take a moment to recall the last time you were in a great mood
playing tennis (hopefully often!). Describe your feelings. How did
you perform? Did the way you performed improve your mood, or did
your emotional state help you play better? Although it is still too
early to accurately predict competitive outcome from analyzing mood,
studies show that certain mood patterns are quite common among elite
athletes, and that successful athletes display these patterns more
often than less successful athletes.
How do you measure your mood? One simple way is to carefully record
your emotional states in a diary. Perhaps the most popular self-report measure of transient mood states is the Profile of Mood States
(POMS), developed by McNair, Lorr and Droppleman in 1971. This
questionnaire taps six mood dimensions including tension-anxiety,
depression-dejection, anger-hostility, vigor-activity, fatigue-
inertia, and confusion-bewilderment. I have found the POMS helpful in
measuring the mood patterns of athletes from many sports including
tennis, as well as with players on the 1996 national champion Florida Gators
Research with the POMS shows that elite athletes score above normal
on the vigor-activity scale and below normal on all other scales. A
graphic depiction of these scores resembles an iceberg (vigor scale
up, all others down), leading Bill Morgan to dub this the "iceberg
profile." Although many elite athletes do not display this pattern,
it shows up frequently enough to take notice. How would your own
mood profile look next to the "iceberg?"
Enhancing Your Mood
Just as critical feedback regarding your serve, volley, and overhead
is important, you should also start paying attention to your mood
states and recording the influence that your mood has on performance.
If you are new to this, begin by rating each of six dimensions of
your current mood (anxiety, depression, anger, fatigue, confusion,
and vigor-activity) on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = worst ever, 10=best
ever). Based on this ranking, pick the mood you would like to work
on by linking to the appropriate Mental Equipment article and
refreshing your memory on aspects that might help. (Remember that
these are just tips to help you perform better in sports. If you are
experiencing significant problems with mood, seek professional
Just link below to your desired mood enhancer:
Send Me Feedback
As your mood and performance begin to change, I would like to hear
from you. Let me know using this form which articles helped the most and which mood
changes were most useful. Keep your chin up and I'll see you next
Mental Equipment Archive
If you have not already signed up to receive our free e-mail
newsletter Tennis Server INTERACTIVE, you can sign up here.
You will receive notification each month of changes at the Tennis
Server and news of new columns posted on our site.
This column is copyrighted by Dr. John Murray, all rights reserved.
Dr. John F. Murray is currently a licensed clinical psychologist and sport psychologist in Florida. In addition, he is a tennis professional (having taught tennis internationally in North America, Hawaii, Europe, Middle East), formerly certified with both USPTA and USPTR. He has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and masters degrees both in Clinical Psychology and Exercise & Sport Sciences from the University of Florida. He maintains a personal web site at http://www.johnfmurray.com/.
Questions and comments about these columns can be directed to John by using this form.