Author Archives: Axon Sports

Basketball And The BAM Project

via Axon Sports

Imagine an NCAA basketball coach trying to create a game plan for their first March Madness game with absolutely no video footage of their upcoming opponent.  Sure, he has their roster with player names, height/weight and positions.  He also has a set of specific stats that show the performance of each player and the team during the season.  Yet, there is no opportunity to see the team play as a unit, how they move the ball, or their communication.  The resulting game strategy would be full of educated guesses and assumptions based on just the macro picture of the roster and the micro world of data and statistics. Welcome to the …

read more

Tags: , , , , , , ,

For Superstar Young Athletes, Only Their Mindset Can Stop Them

via Axon Sports

Amazing young athletes have been going viral lately.  Did you see the video of the 11-year-old star of the Downey Christian high school varsity basketball team, who recently performed at halftime of an Orlando Magic game?  How about the 9-year-old girl running around and over the boys in her youth football league, who was invited to sit next to Roger Goodell at last month’s Super Bowl?  Then there’s the 10th grader who is currently starting for the Erie Otters, a major junior hockey team with an average age of 19, whose agent is Hall of Famer Bobby Orr and who NHL star Sidney Crosby compares to himself. These young YouTube sensations, …

read more

Tags: , , ,

NFL Combine Drill Is A Tough Test Of Hand-Eye Coordination

via Axon Sports

One of the most challenging and entertaining workout drills at this weekend’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis is the Gauntlet Drill for wide receivers and tight ends.  Whether or not it relates to real NFL success is debated but it does provide a true test of hand-eye coordination and the ability to change focus while on the move. Obviously, being able to instantly pick up the flight of a thrown football is key for receivers but also is important for defensive backs who need to turn their heads at the last moment to find a pass.  Now, vision researchers at Tübingen University in Germany have shown that humans actually use extremely …

read more

Tags: , , , , , ,

Decoding The Two Sides Of The Baseball Swing

via Axon Sports

When describing his former teammate Joe Mauer’s hitting discipline, five-time MLB All-Star Jim Thome told ESPN, “Joe’s the only teammate I’ve ever had who never gets fooled. And when I say ‘never,’ that’s what I mean. Absolutely never.”  The fact that Mauer had more walks than strikeouts in 2012, while leading the league in on-base percentage, is not surprising to his Minnesota Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire. “He takes (pitches) because he can,” Gardenhire says. “Other guys aren’t good enough.” Combine this knack of knowing when to swing with one of the sweetest strokes in baseball and the result is a three-time batting champion, a first for a catcher.  Being able to …

read more

Tags: , , , , ,

Learning To Be The Next Eric Clapton Or Tiger Woods

via Axon Sports

Despite being a well-respected cognitive psychology professor at New York University, Gary Marcus had a secret ambition; to shred amazing riffs that would make Eric Clapton envious. The fact that he had been gently told as a child he had no sense of rhythm or tone did not discourage his dream. With a one year sabbatical from NYU available, he turned himself into a lab experiment of how to teach a middle-aged dog new “licks”. At about the same time, Dan McLaughlin was growing restless with his career as a commercial photographer in Portland. To him, life as a professional golfer seemed to be the dream destination if only he could …

read more

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Football Player’s GPS

via Axon Sports

It’s too bad the Atlanta Falcons won’t be in this year’s Super Bowl. We’ll miss out on seeing one of the NFL’s most acrobatic young receivers, Julio Jones, as well as a future, first-ballot Hall of Fame tight end, Tony Gonzalez.  During their run through the playoffs, each made highlight reel catches (see below) that demonstrated their world-class sense of proprioception, defined as our unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation. The best example of this is executing the “toe-tap” reception, where a receiver, at full speed, is able to turn his head to catch the ball then get both feet to land in-bounds, often with only the tips of his …

read more

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Rewards Of Ray Allen’s Routine

via Axon Sports

On his way to becoming an Olympic gold medalist, a 10-time NBA All-Star and the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-point baskets made, Ray Allen picked up a certain shooting practice routine.  Not when he was a rookie, or at the University of Connecticut or in high school, but when he was eight years old.  He had to make five right-handed layups then five left-handed layups before he could leave the gym.  If he ran out of time or was forced off the court by others, “I cried,” he told the Boston Globe. “It messed up my day.” Over the years, given his success, he might be forgiven if he gave the …

read more

Tags: , , ,

How Your Brain Maps Sports

via Axon Sports

Playing different sports is rather redundant.  Think about the motor skills and objects of, say, hockey versus soccer.  Players on two teams try to keep control of the puck/ball and put it past the opposing keeper into the goal.  Tennis, badminton and volleyball share the concept of hitting an object over a net at an opponent.  Football and rugby both need to advance a ball across a goal line.  There are similar objects such as a ball, a goal and the field of play and movements like jumping and running.  An athlete’s brain needs to learn these shared concepts early on to be able to navigate the tactics and motor skills …

read more

Tags: , , , , ,

The Vision Of Cristiano Ronaldo

via Axon Sports

Last year, the Spanish newspaper Marca revealed the nicknames that Real Madrid players have given each other inside the Santiago Bernabéu locker room.  While some names poked fun at a player’s appearance (“Nemo” for Mesut Özil’s bulging eyes), superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was simply known as “la máquina”, Spanish for “the machine.”  With his humanoid robot physique and his superior speed and quickness, Ronaldo seems to be programmed for goal scoring. Indeed, sponsor Castrol has developed a self-proclaimed documentary, “Ronaldo – Tested To The Limit”, to attempt to explain the Portuguese player’s body strength, mental ability, technique and skill.  The most interesting of the four segments, mental ability, helps us realize that …

read more

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Practice Makes Perfect, Thanks To Plasticity

via Axon Sports

As kids, once we have mastered the complex motor skill of riding a bicycle, we’re told that its a lifelong skill that we’ll never forget.  Getting all of the moving parts of human and machine in sync with each other becomes a collective memory that can be called on from age 6 to 60.  Which is surprising, knowing that names, numbers and recent locations of car keys can be so easily forgotten.  What makes motor skills stick in our brains, ready to be called on at anytime?  According to two teams of cognitive science researchers, we can thank a property called neuroplasticity which actually changes the structure of our brain as …

read more

Tags: , , , , , ,