Tag Archives: expert vs. novice

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 …

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Can Home Court Advantage Turn Into Home Court Choke?

via Axon Sports

Ask any NBA player or coach where they would prefer to play a high stakes game, home or away, and the vast majority will choose being in the friendly confines of their home arena.  Overall, the win-loss records of most teams would support that, but they would do even better if they taught their home fans a lesson in performance psychology.   When it comes to sports skills, research has shown that we’re better off to just do it rather than consciously thinking about the mechanics of each sub-component of the move.  Waiting for a pitch, standing over a putt or stepping up to the free throw line gives our brains …

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A Quarterback’s Thinking, Fast And Slow

via Axon Sports

Your favorite NFL team breaks the huddle for the first time in 2012 and your shiny, new first-round draft pick quarterback comes to the line.  As he peers out over the defense, everyone, from the general manager to the fans, is confident they chose the right player in the NFL draft because of his dead-on answer to this question, “A train travels 20 feet in one-fifth of a second.  At this same speed, how many feet will it travel in 3 seconds?”  Although he struggled with the next question, “What is the ninth month of the year?”, his overall Wonderlic cognitive ability test came back with an above average score, giving …

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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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Sport-specific memory and information chunking

via Axon Sports

One of the most interesting distinctions to think about when we’re talking about athletes and cognition is the difference between the reactive, lighting-quick decision making that happens on the field, and the slower, more deliberate though involved in what often gets called “strategy”. Both are important, but both are different.  In some ways the divide mirrors the difference between implicit or procedural memory–skills that we execute without thinking consciously about them, like riding a bike–and explicit or declarative memory, which are memories that we call forth, like remembering the capitol of California. Th high-speed recognition of anticipatory cues, discussed a few weeks ago, is a skill that falls more into the …

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