Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Synapse – Music, Sleep And A Used Putter

via Axon Sports

In this week’s edition of Synapse, we take a look at three new research studies that could boost your budding superstar’s performance by listening to music, taking a nap or even borrowing your favorite PGA golfer’s putter.

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NFL Teams Are Really Listening To Andrew Luck

via Axon Sports

For the second half of this NFL season, the only silver lining in several losing teams’ dark clouds is an early round pick in the 2012 NFL draft.  A chance to start over with a top college quarterback like Andrew Luck just might be the turning point for a franchise. To get ready for the draft, hundreds of hours of game film can be broken down to grade player performance with X’s and O’s.  Objective athletic tests at the NFL Scouting Combine rank the NCAA football draftees by speed and strengths, just as the infamous Wonderlic intelligence test tries to rank their brain power. However, despite all of this data, coaches …

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What If Xavi Made Even Better Decisions?

via Axon Sports

When Xavi Hernandez receives the soccer ball in his offensive half of the field, the Barcelona maestro has a world of decisions waiting for him.  Hold the ball while his teammates arrive, make the quick through pass to a slicing Lionel Messi or move into position for a shot.  The question that decision researchers want to know is whether Xavi’s brain makes a choice based on the desired outcome (wait, pass or shoot) or the action necessary to achieve that goal.  Then, could his attitude towards improvement actually change his decision making ability? Traditionally, the decision process was seen as consecutive steps; first choose what it is you want then choose …

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Don’t Think Too Much On The Golf Course

via Axon Sports

If ever there was a sport destined to send its players to the sport psychologist’s couch, it has to be golf. Just ask Tiger Woods about how mental attitude, swing changes and self-doubt can affect performance on the course. One recommendation from cognitive science researchers: stop thinking and just play. The psychological term for this concept is automaticity, or the ability to carry out sport skills without consciously thinking about them.

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The Synapse – Video Games, Building Blocks and Your Brain’s Dark Energy

via Axon Sports

To get your budding superstar ready for his sports future, should they play with high tech video games or good old building blocks?  Well, according to two new studies, that depends on if you’re training their creativity or their spatial awareness.  Also, in our weekly round-up of brain science news, we find out about our brain’s “default-mode network” which manages our brain’s neurons when trying to focus on an object. For most sports, athletes require the ability to quickly make sense of their surroundings, then to be creative in their reaction to this ever changing environment.  Developing these dual skills often starts in the early years with non-sport activities. Nora Newcombe, …

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Is Working Memory The Secret Weapon Of Aaron Rodgers?

via Axon Sports

Of course, the ongoing debate in the sports world is if great perceptual awareness and quick decision making are gifts you’re born with or ones you can develop with practice. At the center of the debate for the last 20 years, Florida State psychology professor K. Anders Ericsson has held to a theory that enough deliberate practice, described as a focused activity meant to improve a specific skill, can make up for or even circumvent the lack of general, innate abilities. His research has shown that about 10,000 hours of practice is the minimum required to rise to an expert level of most knowledge domains, including sports.

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