Tag Archives: The Athletic Brain

For Superstar Young Athletes, Only Their Mindset Can Stop Them

via Axon Sports

Amazing young athletes have been going viral lately.  Did you see the video of the 11-year-old star of the Downey Christian high school varsity basketball team, who recently performed at halftime of an Orlando Magic game?  How about the 9-year-old girl running around and over the boys in her youth football league, who was invited to sit next to Roger Goodell at last month’s Super Bowl?  Then there’s the 10th grader who is currently starting for the Erie Otters, a major junior hockey team with an average age of 19, whose agent is Hall of Famer Bobby Orr and who NHL star Sidney Crosby compares to himself. These young YouTube sensations, …

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Decoding The Two Sides Of The Baseball Swing

via Axon Sports

When describing his former teammate Joe Mauer’s hitting discipline, five-time MLB All-Star Jim Thome told ESPN, “Joe’s the only teammate I’ve ever had who never gets fooled. And when I say ‘never,’ that’s what I mean. Absolutely never.”  The fact that Mauer had more walks than strikeouts in 2012, while leading the league in on-base percentage, is not surprising to his Minnesota Twins’ manager Ron Gardenhire. “He takes (pitches) because he can,” Gardenhire says. “Other guys aren’t good enough.” Combine this knack of knowing when to swing with one of the sweetest strokes in baseball and the result is a three-time batting champion, a first for a catcher.  Being able to …

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Learning To Be The Next Eric Clapton Or Tiger Woods

via Axon Sports

Despite being a well-respected cognitive psychology professor at New York University, Gary Marcus had a secret ambition; to shred amazing riffs that would make Eric Clapton envious. The fact that he had been gently told as a child he had no sense of rhythm or tone did not discourage his dream. With a one year sabbatical from NYU available, he turned himself into a lab experiment of how to teach a middle-aged dog new “licks”. At about the same time, Dan McLaughlin was growing restless with his career as a commercial photographer in Portland. To him, life as a professional golfer seemed to be the dream destination if only he could …

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New Research Could Help Alex Rodriguez’s Batting Slump

via 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 …

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The Mysteries Of The Teenage Sports Brain

via 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 …

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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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The Rhythms Of The Olympic Athletic Brain

via 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 …

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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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Elite Soccer Players’ Brains Excel At Planning And Problem Solving

via 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 …

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The Growth Of Rory McIlroy’s Brain

via Axon Sports

At the young age of 22, Rory McIlroy is one of the top players on the PGA tour, while mere mortal golfers wish they could play half as well as the young Irishman. Well, chances are Rory’s brain actually has more gray matter than the average weekend duffer. Researchers at the University of Zurich have found that expert golfers have a higher volume of the gray-colored, closely packed neuron cell bodies that are known to be involved with muscle control. The good news is that, like Rory, golfers who start young and commit to years of practice can also grow their brains while their handicaps shrink. Executing a good golf swing …

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