Tag Archives: Anticipation

Learning To Anticipate Your Opponent

via Axon Sports

Across just about every team sport, young defenders are coached how to read an opponent’s body cues to avoid being caught out of position.  Whether in hockey, basketball, soccer or football, if a player can learn to focus on a consistent center point, like the chest, he can take away the offensive attacker’s element of surprise.  As with most skills, this takes time to master, but new research shows that experience does matter. Watching players develop in practice and games offers a subjective view of their learning curve, but what would put any doubt to rest would be to actually peer inside their brains to monitor their progress.  That’s exactly what …

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Controlling Movement Is Your Brain’s Only Purpose

via Axon Sports

Daniel Wolpert is absolutely certain about one thing.  “We have a brain for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to produce adaptable and complex movements,” stated Wolpert, Director of the Computational and Biological Learning Lab at the University of Cambridge.  “Movement is the only way you have of affecting the world around you.”  After that assertive opening to his 2011 TED Talk, he reported that, despite this important purpose, we have a long way to go in understanding of how exactly the brain controls our movements. The evidence for this is in how well we’ve learned to mimic our movements using computers and robots.  For example, take the game …

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Hitting A Baseball – “The Hardest Thing To Do In Sports”

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Ted Williams, arguably the greatest baseball hitter of all-time, once said, “I think without question the hardest single thing to do in sport is to hit a baseball”. Williams was the last major league player to hit .400 for an entire season and that was back in 1941.  Last season, the average Major League Baseball player produced a hit less than 3 times for every 10 at-bats and failed to even put the ball in play 2 times in 10 tries. So, why is hitting a baseball so difficult? What visual, cognitive and motor skills do we need to make contact with an object moving at 70-100 mph? A key concept …

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The anticipatory skills of athletes

via Axon Sports

In the past, we’ve talked about the difficulty in determining exactly what cognitive skills sets elite athletes apart from their competition. Simple laboratory tests of reaction time or visual skills don’t do a very good job. Given the complexity of the decisions and movements that athletes make during competition, it’s not surprising that it turns out we have to dig a little deeper, and make things more sport-specific before we can start teasing those differences out. Research on elite athletes’ anticipation skills suggests that it may not be the simple, reactive skills that set athletes apart. Research out of Brunel University and the University of Hong Kong have shown that when …

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ESPN Sports Science on Pitch Recognition

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Last year ESPN Sports Science did a great feature on just how tight the timeframe is for baseball players standing at the plate against major league pitching. It’s a great visual complement to everything that we’ve been talking about on the blog around the gaze patterns of athletes, high-speed decision making and the way that elite athletes become highly tuned to the visual cues that guide anticipation. From an earlier post on the anticipatory skills of athletes: Research out of Brunel University and the University of Hong Kong have shown that when watching tape of opponents, the areas of athletes’ brains associated with observation and prediction light up, and that those …

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Hardware Vs. Software: Does Sports Vision Training Work?

via Axon Sports

Yesterday we looked at a new study that compared the pre- and post-training visual performance of athletes who used Nike’s new Vapor Strobes vs. a control group.  The study aimed to test whether athletes’ visual performance increased after using the strobe goggles, which have lenses that flicker between clear and opaque to reduce the amount of visual information that the athlete receives, and found modest effects in some areas, none in others. It makes for a nice jumping-off point to talk about the field of “sports vision training”, “eye training” or “sensory training” and the hardware vs. software debate around which skills in the visual-perceptual-cognitive system are most apt to improve …

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