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Peyton Manning Relies On Top-Down Attention

By Axon Sports

This article by Axon Sports originally appeared at our partner National Football Post, the leader in football news and analysis. Whenever Peyton Manning takes the field, the superlatives come fast and furious from football commentators. As well they should, the future Hall of Fame QB has proven his superior cognitive and physical skills repeatedly over his 15 seasons. However, back in week 2 of the NFL season when the Broncos met the Falcons for a Monday Night Football game, the importance of a well designed and disguised defense was on display. The Atlanta defense highlighted the importance of cognitive skills in football, as the ability to force bad decisions was shown …

New Research Could Help Alex Rodriguez’s Batting Slump

By Axon Sports

At this point in the MLB postseason, Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees’ third baseman, is willing to try any remedy for his postseason hitting slump.  So far in October, his batting average is a paltry .130, well below his season average of .272.  Baseball writers and fans have tagged him with the dreaded “choker” label and his manager, Joe Girardi, has already benched him once.  A-Rod’s confidence seems to be in a downward spiral with all of the added pressure and attention on him.  However, a German sport psychologist could be coming to his rescue with new research on how to distract the brain away from focusing too much on specific athletic …

The Mysteries Of The Teenage Sports Brain

By Axon Sports

It seems so easy sitting in the stands.  Watching their high school athlete, parents are perplexed when bad decisions are made on the field, not to mention at home and school.  What seems so logical to coaches and fans, especially over the age of 30, is often lost on the adolescent brains of prep players.  Do they just not care?  Will it take even more practice and drills to get it right?  Could it be teenagers are just wired differently?  According to a social cognition expert, that’s exactly what’s happening. Traditional child development theory takes us from birth to the beginning of the awkward years that are triggered by the physical …

Defining The Athletic Brain

By Axon Sports

Axon Sports is proud to be the cognitive training and protection partner of American Youth Football, the world’s largest football training organization. Recently, AYF asked our own Jason Cromer, lead cognitive neuroscienist at Axon, to describe what we call The Athletic Brain for their players and coaches.  The article below first appeared on the AYF site. By Jason Cromer, Ph.D. Yogi Berra may have been ahead of his time when he famously said, “Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.”  For many sports, including football, an emphasis on cerebral skills is seen as the last frontier for performance improvement.  While traditional sport psychology focuses on the motivational side …

The Rhythms Of The Olympic Athletic Brain

By Axon Sports

For sports fans, the first week of the London Olympics has delivered a spectacular spectrum of sports competition. For sports performance and human movement scientists, the Summer Games are a live laboratory for their theories and research.  Whether it’s watching the record-setting swimming strokes of Michael Phelps or the acrobatic gymnastic routines of Gabby Douglas, kinesiologists have been stumped to explain exactly how the human brain instructs the body to perform such advanced movements.  Last month, researchers at Stanford, Columbia and Cambridge Universities released a study that proposes a very different theory of how this brain-body communication takes place. For years, cognitive scientists used what we knew about our visual system …

Learning An NFL Playbook Is All About Chunking

By Axon Sports

Last year, in a highly anticipated episode of Jon Gruden’s Quarterback Camp, the former NFL coach warned highly touted rookie prospect Cam Newton about one of the major adjustments facing him when he gets to the NFL. “You know, some of this verbiage in the NFL, I don’t know how it was at Auburn, but it’s — it’s long.  You’ve got the shifts, the plays, the protections, the snap count, the alert, the check-with-me’s,” Gruden said. “I mean, flip right, double-X, Jet, 36 counter, naked waggle, X-7, X-quarter.” He went on to ask the Auburn quarterback if he’d ever heard a play call like that in college, to which Newton responded, …

Making Better Football Decisions

By Axon Sports

During the kickoff game of the 2011 NFL season, the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers edged out the New Orleans Saints in a classic shootout.  Both quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees displayed that extra dimension that is required of today’s signal callers – a synergy of in-game pattern recognition and deep football tactical knowledge.  Recent research in another high-stress line of work highlights this skill which quickly separates the athletic but ineffective passers from the complete quarterbacks. In a recent Grantland article, Chris Brown, expert analyst at Smart Football, described one particular play of that September game that stood out, “Rodgers lined up in the shotgun and saw …

The New Soccer Metric – Flow Centrality

By Axon Sports

Imagine if the new Adidas soccer ball that will be used in next month’s Euro 2012 tournament had a memory chip in it that could retrace its entire path through each of the scheduled thirty-one games.  Not only its direction and distance traveled, but if it could also log each player’s touch leading up to every shot on goal.  Would the sum of all of those individual path segments tell the story of the game and which players contributed the most to their team’s success?  Northwestern University engineering professor Luís A. Nunes Amaral has not only answered that question, but has now built a side business to enlighten coaches and fans. …

Elite Soccer Players’ Brains Excel At Planning And Problem Solving

By Axon Sports

Coaches and commentators often refer to an athlete’s ability to “see the field” or be a play-maker.  Rookies at the next level can’t wait for the game to “slow down” so their brains can process all of the moving pieces.  What exactly is this so-called game intelligence and court vision?  Can it be recognized and developed in younger players?  For the first time, neuroscientists at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet have found a link between our brain’s “executive functions” and sports success. When in the middle of a heated game on the field or court, our brains are accomplishing the ultimate in multitasking.  Moving, anticipating, strategizing, reacting and performing requires an enormous amount …

Hitting Is Timing, Pitching Is Upsetting Timing

By Axon Sports

Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn never studied biomechanics or captured 3D motion capture of the batters he faced, but he knew a lot about the science of strikeouts.  “Hitting is timing.  Pitching is upsetting timing,” Spahn stated decades ago. “”A pitcher needs two pitches, one they’re looking for and one to cross them up.” After all of these years, ASMI biomechanist Dave Fortenbaugh has put this theory to the test in his lab. With less than a second to see the pitch, identify its speed and location then execute an intercepting swing of the bat, a baseball player’s margin of error can be milliseconds or millimeters.  Since most of the …

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