Tag Archives: Football

Learning To Anticipate Your Opponent

via Dan Peterson

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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Keeping The Football Brain Balanced

via Dan Peterson

One of Associate Head Coach Burton Burns’ favorite drills for his Alabama running backs has them hopping over pads with both feet, teaching his players balance and more importantly how to recover from a stumble.  One of his many star students was Trent Richardson, who liked the drill.  “Even my freshman year when we were against North Texas and I had a long run and I could feel it near the end, someone just hit my feet,” Richardson told AL.com. “We get our feet up, it’s better for us to keep our balance.” As you watch the video of the drill below, notice the stumbles after the second or third hurdle. …

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Adjusting To The Speed Of Football At The Next Level

via Dan Peterson

As football players move up from youth leagues to high school to college and, ultimately, the NFL, there is often a sharp learning curve to adapt to the next level.  They struggle with the speed of the game and the need to “slow the game down” to make better on-field decisions.  Even for elite players, with all of their physical talent, training the brain to react instinctively to game situations takes hours of preparation and repetition.  Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Prize winning behavioral psychologist, describes this education as moving from System Two to System One thinking, which applies to more in life than just football. When Robert Griffin III was slowed …

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Motor Memory Helps On The Football Field

via Dan Peterson

You’ll hear the same thing over and over on high school and college football fields this month. “We just have to get our reps in.” “Time to knock the rust off and find our rhythm.” “Its all about timing and getting everyone in sync.”  The common theme for players is trying to increase the efficiency of their thinking and their movements, better known as muscle memory.  By repeating the same motions and plays, practice may not become perfect but it certainly will improve.  Now, neuroscientists at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have found that brains actually do become more energy efficient after numerous repetitions by decreasing the electrical activity …

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Why A Football Helmet Has Ear Holes

via Dan Peterson

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. …

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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 …

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Peyton Manning Relies On Top-Down Attention

via 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 …

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Defining The Athletic Brain

via 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 …

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Learning An NFL Playbook Is All About Chunking

via 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, …

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Making Better Football Decisions

via 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 …

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