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New Research Links Soccer Heading To Brain Injury

By Axon Sports

By now, it should come as no surprise that concussions continue to be a real problem in soccer, for both pros and amateurs.  From FIFA to US Youth Soccer, programs have been launched to teach young soccer players how to reduce violent head to head contact by improving their technique on the field.  Now, new research is warning against not just one-time hits to the head but also the collection of smaller hits over a player’s career. One of the ironies for youth soccer safety is the attention paid to making sure a player’s shin guards are in place, while their more vulnerable head goes unprotected.  Collisions between players or even …

Seeing The World Through Tony Parker’s Eyes

By Axon Sports

After the San Antonio Spurs clinched their trip to the NBA Finals on Monday night, Tim Duncan was asked to describe the contributions of his point guard, Tony Parker.  “Every year he just gets better and better and better,” he commented to the press. “I told him I’m just riding his coattails.”  High praise indeed from a four-time NBA champion and 14-time All-Star. Duncan’s remarks add to the growing opinion that Parker is the best postseason point guard in NBA history.  Whether its his scoring touch, 37 points in Game 4 against Memphis, or his vision on the court, a career best 18 assists in Game 2, Parker has the ability …

10,000 Hours Of Practice May Not Be Enough

By Axon Sports

The 10,000 hour theory has become the American dream for developing athletes. Just work hard enough and your gold medal, Hall of Fame, championship ambitions can come true. It is achievable, measurable and finite.  Many athletes never quite cross the 10,000 hour finish line, and have used the scapegoat reason, “I just didn’t have enough time to commit to the sport.” However, recent research suggests that while 10,000 hours of deliberate practice may be necessary to achieve world-class status, it may not be the only ingredient to success. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, a research paper by Florida State professor K. Anders Ericsson, The Role of Deliberate Practice in the …

How Batters Guess At The Plate

By Axon Sports

It’s not getting any easier being a big league hitter.  Consider that in 2003, only three pitchers lit up the radar gun at 95 mph or more on at least 700 of their pitches, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Matthew Futterman.  Last season, 17 pitchers were able to bring that speed consistently.  In 2003, only Billy Wagner threw at least 25 pitches at or above 100 mph compared to seven pitchers last year. Has the added heat affected the hitters? You bet.  Strikeouts in the MLB totalled 36,426 last season, an 18.3% increase over 2003.  “It’s pretty simple,” said Rick Peterson, director of pitching development for the Baltimore Orioles, in …

Why A Football Helmet Has Ear Holes

By Axon Sports

For as much as we hear about the importance of vision on the football field, there are quite a few phrases emphasizing the sounds of the game.  Examples include “he heard footsteps coming”, “listen for the audible at the line”, “East Right Flop, Y Left, Fake 396 Bag, V Hinge, on 2.”, “play until you hear the whistle” and even the backhanded compliment to the ears, “he has eyes in the back of his head.”  Listening is a skill to be exploited for better anticipation, reactions and decision-making.  Now, neuroscience researchers have filled in some missing details of how we actually use the sounds around us to instantly direct our muscles to take action. …

Getting Inside A Baseball Hitter’s Brain

By Axon Sports

When asked to describe Greg Maddux, the retired 4-time Cy Young award-winning pitcher, Wade Boggs, a Hall of Fame hitter with a .328 lifetime batting average, once said, “It seems like he’s inside your mind with you. When he knows you’re not going to swing, he throws a straight one. He sees into the future. It’s like he has a crystal ball hidden inside his glove.” So, what did Maddux know that other pitchers don’t?  Neuro-engineers from Columbia University decided to actually look inside some hitters’ brains to try to find out. Maddux, who seems to be a lock for the 2014 Hall of Fame class, earned a reputation for knowing …

Rubber-Necked Soccer Players Have The Best Field Vision

By Axon Sports

Last weekend, there was no better place for a few hundred high school soccer players to learn the concept of field vision than to take them to a college match between two top Division 1 teams.  Having just finished playing the second day of the Blue Chip Showcase tournament in Ohio, their assignment (and chance to unwind) was to observe first-hand the skill level that they would need to reach the next level.  If they thought their games against fellow 16 and 17 year old players were fast-paced, then they were in for a surprise when they watched the split second decision making of college players during a spring game between …

Steve Nash And The Imaginary Free Throw

By Axon Sports

Every time Steve Nash goes to the foul line, he shoots five or six free throws. Sure, there’s the two that really count, but the NBA’s all-time free throw percentage leader always takes several imaginary shots before getting the ball.  He says it helps him not only visualize the ball going through the net but also gets his brain and body prepped for the upcoming motor skill.  After almost 3,400 regular season attempts, his 90.4% success rate seems to work, even if Dwight Howard isn’t interested. Actually, this “dry run” motor imagery is a well-used technique across several sports.  Golfers always take the imaginary swing or putt before stepping up to …

Multitasking Brains Are Clutch Under Pressure

By Axon Sports

Just ask the primary decision makers across different sports.  Quarterbacks, point guards, midfielders and catchers would agree that making the right choices during a game would be a whole lot easier if it weren’t for the constant distractions.  Whether it be a blitzing linebacker, a 1v1 defender or runners on base, staying focused on the next decision seems like an on or off process; something that can’t be dealt with until the current distraction is neutralized.  However, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have learned that our multitasking brains continue to mull impending decisions in the background while our conscious brain handles the noise in front of us. Picture a quarterback walking …

Basketball And The BAM Project

By 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 …

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