Tag Archives: High-Speed Decision Making

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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Multitasking Brains Are Clutch Under Pressure

via Dan Peterson

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 …

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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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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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Teaching Your Brain How To Play Soccer

via Axon Sports

When describing what’s wrong with today’s youth soccer coaching, Michel Bruyninckx points to his head. “We need to stop thinking football is only a matter of the body,” the 59-year old Belgian Uefa A license coach and Standard Liège academy director recently told the BBC. “Skillfulness will only grow if we better understand the mental part of developing a player. Cognitive readiness, improved perception, better mastering of time and space in combination with perfect motor functioning.” We’re not talking about dribbling around orange cones here.  Bruyninckx’s approach, which he dubs “brain centered learning” borrows heavily from the constructivist theory of education that involves a total immersion of the student in the …

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Top Tennis Players Simply See Better

via Axon Sports

For most of us mere mortals, if an object was coming at us at 120-150 mph, we would be lucky to just get out of the way. Top tennis players, like Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, not only see the ball coming at them with such speed, but plan where they want to place their return shot and swing their racquet in time to make contact.

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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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Is Working Memory The Secret Weapon Of Aaron Rodgers?

via Axon Sports

Of course, the ongoing debate in the sports world is if great perceptual awareness and quick decision making are gifts you’re born with or ones you can develop with practice. At the center of the debate for the last 20 years, Florida State psychology professor K. Anders Ericsson has held to a theory that enough deliberate practice, described as a focused activity meant to improve a specific skill, can make up for or even circumvent the lack of general, innate abilities. His research has shown that about 10,000 hours of practice is the minimum required to rise to an expert level of most knowledge domains, including sports.

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The Synapse – Better Decision Making In Sports

via Axon Sports

In this week’s Synapse, we made a game-time decision, (pun intended), to focus on the high-speed decision making skills of athletes that are critical in so many sports. There are several new research studies out that all take a different angle. However, it was an interesting post by Ross Tucker at the always excellent blog, The Science of Sport that sparked our curiosity.  As a consultant to the South African rugby team, he commented on the recent World Cup final that saw New Zealand triumph over France. However, it wasn’t the decision making of the players that Tucker wrote about, but rather of the referee. For those unfamiliar with rugby, like …

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