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Sports Are 80 Percent Mental

5 Posts tagged with the science_in_sports tag

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With the MLB League Championship Series' beginning this week,  Twenty-six teams are wondering what it takes to reach the "final four" of baseball which leads to the World Series.  The Red Sox, Rays, Phillies and Dodgers understand its not just money and luck.  Over 162 games, it usually comes down to the fundamentals of baseball: pitching, hitting and catching.  That sounds simple enough.  So, why can't everyone execute those skills consistently?  Why do pitchers struggle with their control?  Why do batters strike out?  Why do fielders commit errors?  It turns out Yogi Berra was right when he said, "Baseball is 90% mental, and the other half is physical."  In this three part series, each skill will be broken down into its cognitive sub-tasks and you may be surprised at the complexity that such a simple game requires of our brains.

First up, pitching or even throwing a baseball seems effortless until the pressure is on and the aim goes awry.  Pitching a 3" diameter baseball 60 feet, 6 inches over a target that is 8 inches wide requires an accuracy of 1/2 to 1 degree. Throwing it fast, with the pressure of a game situation makes this task one of the hardest in sports. In addition, a fielder throwing to another fielder from 40, 60 or 150 feet away, sometimes off balance or on the run, tests the brain-body connection for accuracy. So, how do we do it? And how can we learn to do it more consistently?  In his book, The Psychology of Baseball , Mike Stadler , professor of psychology at the University of Missouri,addresses each of these questions.

There are two dimensions to think about when throwing an object at a target: vertical and horizontal. The vertical dimension is a function of the distance of the throw and the effect of gravity on the object. So the thrower's estimate of distance between himself and the target will determine the accuracy of the throw vertically. Basically, if the distance is underestimated, the required strength of the throw will be underestimated and will lose the battle with gravity, resulting in a throw that will be either too low or will bounce before reaching the target. An example of this is a fast ball which is thrown with more velocity, so will reach its target before gravity has a path-changing effect on it. On the other hand, a curve ball or change-up may seem to curve downward, partly because of the spin put on the ball affecting its aerodynamics, but also because these pitches are thrown with less force, allowing gravity to pull the ball down. In the horizontal dimension, the "right-left" accuracy is related to more to the "aim" of the throw and the ability of the thrower to adjust hand-eye coordination along with finger, arm, shoulder angles and the release of the ball to send the ball in the intended direction.So, how do we improve accuracy in both dimensions? Prof. Stadler points out that research shows that skill in the vertical/distance estimating dimension is more genetically determined, while skill horizontally can be better improved with practice. Remember those spatial organization tests that we took that show a set of connected blocks in a certain shape and then show you four more sets of conected blocks? The question is which of the four sets could result from rotating the first set of blocks. Research has shown that athletes that are good at these spatial relations tests are also accurate throwers in the vertical dimension. Why? The thought is that those athletes are better able to judge the movement of objects through space and can better estimate distance in 3D space. Pitchers are able to improve this to an extent as the distance to the target is fixed. A fielder, however, starts his throw from many different positions on the field and has more targets (bases and cut-off men) to choose from, making his learning curve a bit longer.If a throw or pitch is off-target, then what went wrong?  Research has shown that despite all of the combinations of fingers, hand, arm, shoulder and body movements, it seems to all boil down to the timing of the finger release of the ball. In other words, when the pitcher's hand comes forward and the fingers start opening to allow the ball to leave. The timing of this release can vary by hundredths of a second but has significant impact on the accuracy of the throw. But, its also been shown that the throwing action happens so fast, that the brain could not consciously adjust or control that release in real-time. This points to the throwing action being controlled by what psychologists call an automated "motor program" that is created through many repeated practice throws. But, if a "release point" is incorrect, how does a pitcher correct that if they can't do so in real-time? It seems they need to change the embedded program by more practice.Another component of "off-target" pitching or throwing is the psychological side of a player's mental state/attitude. Stadler identifies research that these motor programs can be called up by the brain by current thoughts. There seems to be "good" programs and "bad" programs, meaning the brain has learned how to throw a strike and learned many programs that will not throw a strike. By "seeding" the recall with positive or negative thoughts, the "strike" program may be run, but so to can the "ball" program. So, if a pitcher thinks to himself, "don't walk this guy", he may be subconsciously calling up the "ball" program and it will result in a pitch called as a ball. So, this is why sports pscyhologists stress the need to "think positively", not just for warm and fuzzy feelings, but the brain may be listening and will instruct your body what to do.


So, assuming Josh Beckett of the Red Sox is getting the ball across the plate, will the Rays hit it? That is the topic for next time when we look at hitting an object that is moving at 97 MPH and reaches you in less than half a second.

611 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: coaching, baseball, pitching, sport_science, evidence_based_coaching, sports_cognition, vision_and_perception, sport_skills, sport_psychology, youth_sports, science_in_sports, pitching_tips




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A player can feel it during a game when they hit a game-changing home run or when they go 0 for 4 at the plate.  A team can feel it when they come back from a deficit late in the game or when their lead in the division vanishes.  A fan can feel it as their team "catches fire" or goes "as cold as ice".  And, play-by-play announcers love to talk about it.  We know it as the "Big Mo", the "Hot Hand", and being "In The Zone" while the psychologists call it Psychological Momentum.  But, does it really exist?  Is it just a temporary shift in confidence and mood or does it actually change the outcome of a game or a season?  As expected, there are lots of opinions available.

 

The Oxford Dictionary of Sports Science defines psychological momentum as, "the positive or negative change in cognition, affect, physiology, and behavior caused by an event or series of events that affects either the perceptions of the competitors or, perhaps, the quality of performance and the outcome of the competition. Positive momentum is associated with periods of competition, such as a winning streak, in which everything seems to ‘go right’ for the competitors. In contrast, negative momentum is associated with periods, such as a losing streak, when everything seems to ‘go wrong’."  The interesting phrase in this definition is that Psychological Momentum (PM) "affects either the perceptions of the competitors or, perhaps</b>, the quality of performance and the outcome of the competition."  Most of the analyses on PM focus on the quantitative side to try to prove or disprove PM's affect on individual stats or team wins and losses.

 

Regarding PM in baseball, a Wall St. Journal article looked at last year's MLB playoffs, only to conclude there was no affect on postseason play coming from team momentum at the end of the regular season.  More recently, Another Cubs Blog also looked at momentum into this year's playoffs including opinion from baseball stats guru, Bill James, another PM buster.  For basketball, Thomas Gilovich's 1985 research into streaky, "hot hand" NBA shooting is the foundation for most of today's arguments against the existence of PM, or at least its affect on outcomes.

 

This view that if we can't see it in the numbers, more than would be expected, then PM does not exist may not capture the whole picture.  Lee Crust and Mark Nesti have recommended that researchers look at psychological momentum more from the qualitative side .  Maybe there are more subjective measures of athlete or team confidence that contribute to success that don't show up in individual stats or account for teams wins and losses.  As Jeff Greenwaldput it in his article, Riding the Wave of Momentum , "The reason momentum is so powerful is because of                the heightened sense of confidence it gives us -- the most important                aspect of peak performance. There is a term in sport psychology                known as self-efficacy, which is simply a player's belief in his/her                ability to perform a specific task or shot. Typically, a player’s                success depends on this efficacy. During a momentum shift, self-efficacy                is very high and players have immediate proof their ability matches                the challenge. As stated earlier, they then experience subsequent                increases in energy and motivation, and gain a feeling of control.                In addition, during a positive momentum shift, a player’s self-image                also changes. He/she feels invincible and this takes the "performer                self" to a higher level."

 

There would seem to be three distinct areas of focus for PM; an individual's performance within a game, a team's performance within a game and a team's performance across a series of games.  So, what are the relationships between these three scenarios?  Does one player's scoring streak or key play lift the team's PM, or does a close, hard-fought team win rally the players' morale and confidence for the next game?  Seeing the need for a conceptual framework to cover all of these bases, Jim Taylor and Andrew Demick created their Multidimensional Model of Momentum in Sports , which is still the most widely cited model for PM.  Their definition of PM, "a positive or negative change in cognition, affect, physiology, and behavior caused by an event or series of events that will result in a commensurate shift in performance and competitive outcome", leads to the six key elements to what they call the "momentum chain".

 

First, momentum shifts begin with a "precipitating event", like an interception or fumble recovery in football or a dramatic 3-point shot in basketball.  The effect that this event has on each athlete varies depending on their own perception of the game situation, their self-confidence and level of self-efficacy to control the situation.

 

Second, this event leads to "changes in cognition, physiology, and affect."  Again, depending on the athlete, his or her base confidence will determine how strongly they react to the events, to the point of having physiological changes like tightness and panic in negative situations or a feeling of renewed energy after positive events.

 

Third, a "change in behavior" would come from all of these internal perceptions.  Coaches and fans would be able to see real changes in the style of play from the players as they react to the positive or negative momentum chain.

 

Fourth, the next logical step after behavior changes is to notice a "change in performance."  Taylor and Demick note that momentum is the exception not the norm during a game.  Without the precipitating event, there should not be noticeable momentum shifts.

 

Fifth, for sports with head to head competition, momentum is a two-way street and needs a "contiguous and opposing change for the opponent."  So, if after a goal, the attacking team celebrates some increased PM, but the defending team does not experience an equal negative PM, then the immediate flow of the game should remain the same.  Its only when the balance of momentum shifts from one team to the other.  Levels of experience in athletes has been shown to mitigate the effects of momentum, as veteran players can handle the ups and downs of a game better than novices.

 

Finally, at the end of the chain, if momentum makes it that far, there should be an immediate outcome change.  When the pressure of a precipitating event occurs against a team, the players may begin to get out of their normal, confident flow and start to overanalyze their own performance and skills.  We saw this in Dr. Sian Beilock's research in our article, Putt With Your Brain - Part 2.  As an athlete's skills improve they don't need to consciously focus on them during a game.  But pressure brought on by a negative event can take them out of this "automatic" mode as they start to focus on their mechanics to fix or reverse the problem.  As Patrick Cohn , a sport psychologist, pointed out in a recent USA Today article on momentum,  "You stop playing the game you played to be in that position. And the moment you switch to trying not to screw up, you go from a very offensive mind-set to a very defensive mind-set. If you're focusing too much on the outcome, it's difficult to play freely.  And now they're worried more about the consequences and what's going to happen than what they need to do right now."

 



There is no doubt that we will continue to hear references to momentum swings during games. When you do, you can conduct your own mini experiment and watch the reactions of the players and the teams over the next section of the game to see if that "precipitating event" actually leads to a game-changing moment.



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<span style="font-size: 130%;" title="ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&amp;rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Ajournal&amp;rft.jtitle=JournalofAppliedSportPsychology&amp;rft.id=info:DOI/10.1080%2F10413209408406465&amp;rft.atitle=Amultidimensionalmodelofmomentuminsports&amp;rft.date=1994&amp;rft.volume=6&amp;rft.issue=1&amp;rft.spage=51&amp;rft.epage=70&amp;rft.artnum=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.informaworld.com%2Fopenurl%3Fgenre%3Darticle%26doi%3D10.1080%2F10413209408406465%26magic%3Dcrossref%7C%7CD404A21C5BB053405B1A640AFFD44AE3&amp;rft.au=JimTaylor&amp;rft.au=AndrewDemick&amp;bpr3.included=1&amp;bpr3.tags=Psychology%2CHealth%2CCognitivePsychology%2CKinesiology">Jim Taylor, Andrew Demick (1994). A multidimensional model of momentum in sports Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 6 (1), 51-70 DOI: 10.1080/10413209408406465 </span>

791 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: basketball, coaching, baseball, motivation, evidence_based_coaching, sports_cognition, sport_psychology, science_in_sports, momentum, in_the_zone, hot_hand

!http://drp2010.googlepages.com/Tigerputting.jpg|height=200|width=139|src=http://drp2010.googlepages.com/Tigerputting.jpg|border=0!If Mark Twain thinks golf is "a good walk spoiled", then putting must be a brief pause to make you reconsider ever walking again.  With about 50% of our score being determined on the green, we are constantly in search of the "secret" to getting the little white ball to disappear into the cup.  Lucky for us, there is no shortage of really smart people also looking for the answer.  The first 8 months of 2008 have been no exception, with a golf cart full of research papers on just the topic of putting.  Is the secret in the mechanics of the putt stroke or maybe the cognitive set-up to the putt or even the golfer's psyche when stepping up to the ball?  This first post will focus on the mechanical side and then we'll follow-up next time with a look inside the golfer's mind.

 

Let's start with a tip that most golf instructors would give, "Keep your head still when you putt".  Jack Nicklaus said it in 1974, "the premier technical cause of missed putts is head movement" (from "Golf My Way") and Tiger Woods said it in 2001, "Every good putter keeps the head absolutely still from start to finish" (from "How I Play Golf").  Who would argue with the two greatest golfers of all time?  His name is Professor Timothy Lee , from McMaster University, and he wanted to test that observation.  So, he gathered two groups of golfers, amateurs with handicaps of 12-40, and professionals with scratch handicaps.  Using an infrared tracking system, his team tracked the motion of the putter head and the golfer's head during sixty putts.

 

As predicted, the amateurs' head moved back in unison with their putter head, something Lee calls an "allocentric" movement, which agrees with the advice that novice golfers move their head.  However, the expert golfers did not keep their head still, but rather moved their heads slightly in the opposite direction of the putter head.  On the backswing, the golfer's head moved slightly forward; on the forward stroke, the head moved slightly backward.  This "egocentric" movement may be the more natural response to maintain a centered, balanced stance throughout the stroke.  "The exact reasons for the opposite coordination patterns are not entirely clear," explains Lee. "However, we suspect that the duffers tend to just sway their body with the motions of the putter. In contrast, the good golfers probably are trying to maintain a stable, central body position by counteracting the destabilization caused by the putter backswing with a forward motion of the head. The direction of head motion is then reversed when the putter moves forward to strike the ball."  Does that mean that pro golfers like Tiger are not keeping their heads still?  No, just that you may not <b>have</b> to keep your head perfectly still to putt effectively.

 

So, what if you do have the bad habit of moving your head?  Just teach yourself to change your putting motion and you will be cutting strokes off of your score, right?  Well, not so fast.  Simon Jenkins of Leeds Metropolitan University tested  15 members of the PGA European Tour to see if they could break old physical habits during putting.  His team found that players who usually use shoulder movement in their putting action were not able to change their ways even when instructed to use a different motion.  Old habits die hard.

 

Let's say you do keep your head still (nice job!), but you still 3-putt most greens?  What's the next step on the road to birdie putts?  Of the three main components of a putt, (angle of the face of the putter head on contact, putting stroke path and the impact point on the putter), which has the greatest effect on success?  Back in February, Jon Karlsen of the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo, asked 71 elite golfers (mean handicap of 1.8) to make a total of 1301 putts (why not just 1300?) from about 12 feet to find out.  His results showed that face angle was the most important (80%), followed by putter path (17%) and impact point (3%).

 

OK, forget the moving head thing and work on your putter blade angle at contact and you will be taking honors at every tee.  Wait, Jon Karlsen came back in July with an update .  This time he compared green reading, putting technique and green surface inconsistencies to see which of those variables we should discuss with our golf pro.  Forty-three expert golfers putted 50 times from varying distances.  Results showed that green reading (60%) was the most dominant factor for success with technique (34%) and green inconsistency (6%) trailing significantly.

 

!http://drp2010.googlepages.com/breakmaster.jpg|src=http://drp2010.googlepages.com/breakmaster.jpg|border=0!So, after reading all of this, all you really need is something like the BreakMaster, which will help you read the breaks and the slope to the hole!  Then, keep the putter blade square to the ball and don't move your head, at least not in an allocentric way, that is if you can break your bad habit of doing it.  No problem, right?  Well, next time we'll talk about your brain's attitude towards putting and all the ways your putt could go wrong before you even hit it!

 

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<span class="Z3988" title="ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&amp;rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Ajournal&amp;rft.jtitle=JournalofMotorBehavior&amp;rft.id=info:DOI/10.3200%2FJMBR.40.4.267-272&amp;rft.atitle=Head%E2%80%93PutterCoordinationPatternsinExpertandLessSkilledGolfers&amp;rft.date=2008&amp;rft.volume=40&amp;rft.issue=4&amp;rft.spage=267&amp;rft.epage=272&amp;rft.artnum=http%3A%2F%2Fheldref.metapress.com%2Fopenurl.asp%3Fgenre%3Darticle%26id%3Ddoi%3A10.3200%2FJMBR.40.4.267-272&amp;rft.au=TimothyD.Lee&amp;rft.au=TadaoIshikura&amp;rft.au=StefanKegel&amp;rft.au=DaveGonzalez&amp;rft.au=StevenPassmore&amp;bpr3.included=1&amp;bpr3.tags=Psychology%2CHealth%2CNeuroscience%2CCognitivePsychology%2CCognitiveNeuroscience%2C+Kinesiology"  style="font-size:130%;">Timothy D. Lee, Tadao Ishikura, Stefan Kegel, Dave Gonzalez, Steven Passmore (2008). Head–Putter Coordination Patterns in Expert and Less Skilled Golfers Journal of Motor Behavior, 40 (4), 267-272 DOI: 10.3200/JMBR.40.4.267-272

<span class="Z3988" title="ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&amp;rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Ajournal&amp;rft.jtitle=InternationalJournalofSportsScience&amp;Coaching&amp;rft.id=info:DOI/&amp;rft.atitle=CanEliteTournamentProfessionalGolfersPreventHabitualActionsinTheirPuttingActions%3F&amp;rft.date=2008&amp;rft.volume=3&amp;rft.issue=1&amp;rft.spage=117&amp;rft.epage=127&amp;rft.artnum=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ingentaconnect.com%2Fcontent%2Fmscp%2Fijssc%2F2008%2F00000003%2FA00101s1%2Fart00018&amp;rft.au=Jenkins%2CSimon&amp;bpr3.included=1&amp;bpr3.tags=Psychology%2CHealth%2CKinesiology%2CCognitive+Psychology"  style="font-size:130%;">Jenkins, Simon (2008). Can Elite Tournament Professional Golfers Prevent Habitual Actions in Their Putting Actions?  International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 3 (1), 117-127

<span class="Z3988" title="ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&amp;rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Ajournal&amp;rft.jtitle=JournalofSportsSciences&amp;rft.id=info:DOI/10.1080%2F02640410701530902&amp;rft.atitle=Thestrokehasonlyaminorinfluenceondirectionconsistencyingolfputtingamongeliteplayers&amp;rft.date=2007&amp;rft.volume=26&amp;rft.issue=3&amp;rft.spage=243&amp;rft.epage=250&amp;rft.artnum=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.informaworld.com%2Fopenurl%3Fgenre%3Darticle%26doi%3D10.1080%2F02640410701530902%26magic%3Dcrossref%7C%7CD404A21C5BB053405B1A640AFFD44AE3&amp;rft.au=JonKarlsen&amp;rft.au=GeraldSmith&amp;rft.au=JohnnyNilsson&amp;bpr3.included=1&amp;bpr3.tags=Psychology%2CHealth%2CKinesiology%2CCognitive+Psychology"  style="font-size:130%;">Jon Karlsen, Gerald Smith, Johnny Nilsson (2007). The stroke has only a minor influence on direction consistency in golf putting among elite players Journal of Sports Sciences, 26 (3), 243-250 DOI: 10.1080/02640410701530902 </span>

566 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: golf, tiger_woods, sport_science, science_in_sports, putting, jack_nicklaus

!http://drp2010.googlepages.com/coffee.jpg|style=cursor: pointer; float: left; height: 151px; margin: 0pt 10px 10px 0pt; width: 126px;|alt=|src=http://drp2010.googlepages.com/coffee.jpg|border=0!For an athlete, it seems to good to be true.  A "sports supplement" that increases alertness, concentration, reaction time and focus while decreasing muscle fatigue or at least the perception of fatigue.  It can even shorten recovery time after a game.  HGH? EPO? Steroids?   Nope, just a grande cup of Juan Valdez's Best, Liquid Lightning, Morning Mud, Wakey Juice, Mojo, Java, aka coffee.  Actually, the key ingredient is caffeine which has been studied repeatedly for its ergogenic (performance-enhancing) benefits in sports, both mentally and physically.  Time after time, caffeine proves itself as a relatively safe, legal and inexpensive boost to an athlete.

 

 

 

Or does it?  If caffeine is such a clear cut performance enhancing supplement, why did the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), who also monitors this month's Beijing Olympics for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), first add caffeine to its banned substance list, only to remove it in 2004?   At the time that it was placed on the banned list, the threshold for a positive caffeine test was set to a post-exercise urinary caffeine concentration of 12 µg/ml (about 3-4 cups of strong coffee).   However, more recent research has shown that caffeine has ergogenic effects at levels as low as the equivalent of 1-2 cups of coffee.  So, it was hard for WADA to know where to draw the line between athletes just having a few morning cups of coffee/tea or maybe some chocolate bars and athletes that were intentionally consuming caffeine to increase their performance level.  However, caffeine is still on the WADA monitoring list as a substance to screen for and watch for patterns of use.

 

Meanwhile, athletes are still convinced that caffeine helps them.  In a recent survey from Liverpool John Moores University , 480 athletes were interviewed about their caffeine use.  One third of track and field athletes and 60% of cyclists reported using caffeine specifically to give them a boost in competition.  In addition, elite-level athletes interviewed were more likely to rely on caffeine than amateurs.  Dr. Neil Chester , co-leader of the study, commented about the confusion created by the WADA status change for caffeine, "There's been a lack of communication from WADA and there is a question about whether or not sporting authorities are condoning its use. Ultimately there is a need to clarify the use of caffeine within the present anti-doping legislation."

 

So, have athletes found a loophole to exploit that gives them an edge?  Dr. Carrie Ruxton recently completed a literature survey to summarize 41 double-blind, placebo-controlled trials published over the past 15 years to establish what range of caffeine consumption would maximize benefits and minimize risk for cognitive function, mood, physical performance and hydration.  The studies were divided into two categories, those that looked at the cognitive effects and those that looked at physical performance effects.  The results concluded that there was a significant improvement in cognitive functions like attention, reaction time and mental processing as well as physical benefits described as increased "time to exhaustion" and decreased "perception of fatigue" in cycling and running tests.  Longer, endurance type exercise showed greater results than short-term needs for energy.

 

Given these results, how exactly does caffeine perform these wonderful tricks?  Dr. Ruxton explains from the study, "Caffeine is believed to impact on mood and performance by inhibiting the binding of both adenosine and benzodiazepine receptor ligands to brain membranes.  As these neurotransmitters are known to slow down brain activity, a blockade of their receptors lessens this effect. "  Bottom line, the chemicals in your brain that would cause you to feel tired are blocked, giving you a feeling of ongoing alertness.  Your body still needs the sleep, caffeine just delays the feeling of being tired.

 

As to the physiological benefits, caffeine has also been shown to stimulate the release of fat into the bloodstream.  The early conclusion was that the increased free fatty acids in the blood would allow our muscles to use fat as fuel and spare glycogen (carbohydrates) allowing us to exercise longer.  Another theory is that caffeine stimulates the central nervous system reducing our perception of effort so that we feel that we can continue at an increased pace for longer periods.The discussion on glycogen has recently taken another interesting twist; caffeine's apparent ability to replenish glycogen (the body's primary fuel source) more rapidly after an intense workout.  A team at the Garvan Institute for Medical Research has found that athletes who consumed a combination of carbohydrates and caffeine following an exhaustive exercise had 66% more glycogen in their muscles four hours later, compared to when they consumed carbohydrates alone.  They asked cyclists to pedal to exhaustion in the lab, then gave them a drink that contained either carbohydrates with caffeine or just carbohydrates (the cyclists did not know which drink they were getting).  They repeated the process 7-10 days later and reversed the groups.  Muscle biopsies and blood samples were tested for levels of glycogen after each trial period.  The researchers did not have an explanation for the increased levels of glycogen resulting from the caffeine-spiked juice.  One theory is the higher circulating blood glucose and plasma insulin levels caused by the caffeine were key factors.  In addition, caffeine may increase the activity of several signaling enzymes, including the calcium-dependent protein kinase and protein kinase B (also called Akt), which have roles in muscle glucose uptake during and after exercise.

 

So, before you start drinking the Starbucks by the gallon, here are some guidelines.  You can consume 2-2.5 mg of caffeine per pound of body weight daily to achieve its ergogenic effects.  This equates to 250-312 mg for a 125-pound woman and 360-450 mg for a 180-pound man.  More is not better, as other research has shown a decline in benefit and an increase in caffeine's side effects beyond this level.  One "grande" cup (16 oz.) of Starbucks coffee contains about 320-500 mg of caffeine, while a 12 oz. can of soda will provide 35-70 mg of caffeine.  Maybe we'll see the ultimate sports drink soon, kind of like Monster meets Gatorade... wait, its already here: Lucozade Sport with Caffeine Boost!

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<span title="ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&amp;rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Ajournal&amp;rft.jtitle=NutritionBulletin&amp;rft.id=info:DOI/10.1111%2Fj.1467-3010.2007.00665.x&amp;rft.atitle=Theimpactofcaffeineonmood%2Ccognitivefunction%2Cperformanceandhydration%3Aareviewofbenefitsandrisks&amp;rft.date=2008&amp;rft.volume=33&amp;rft.issue=1&amp;rft.spage=15&amp;rft.epage=25&amp;rft.artnum=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.blackwell-synergy.com%2Fdoi%2Fabs%2F10.1111%2Fj.1467-3010.2007.00665.x&amp;rft.au=C.H.S.Ruxton&amp;bpr3.included=1&amp;bpr3.tags=Biology%2CPsychology%2CCognitivePsychology%2CNeuroscience">

 

C. H. S. Ruxton (2008). The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks Nutrition Bulletin, 33 (1), 15-25 DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-3010.2007.00665.x

<span title="ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&amp;rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Ajournal&amp;rft.jtitle=InternationalJournalofSportsMedicine&amp;rft.id=info:DOI/10.1055%2Fs-2007-989231&amp;rft.atitle=CaffeineConsumptionAmongstBritishAthletesFollowingChangestothe2004WADAProhibitedList&amp;rft.date=2008&amp;rft.volume=29&amp;rft.issue=6&amp;rft.spage=524&amp;rft.epage=528&amp;rft.artnum=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.thieme-connect.de%2FDOI%2FDOI%3F10.1055%2Fs-2007-989231&amp;rft.au=N.Chester&amp;rft.au=N.Wojek&amp;bpr3.included=1&amp;bpr3.tags=Psychology%2CNeuroscience">N. Chester, N. Wojek (2008). Caffeine Consumption Amongst British Athletes Following Changes to the 2004 WADA Prohibited List International Journal of Sports Medicine, 29 (6), 524-528 DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-989231

<span title="ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&amp;rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Ajournal&amp;rft.jtitle=JournalofAppliedPhysiology&amp;rft.id=info:DOI/10.1152%2Fjapplphysiol.01121.2007&amp;rft.atitle=Highratesofmuscleglycogenresynthesisafterexhaustiveexercisewhencarbohydrateiscoingestedwithcaffeine&amp;rft.date=2008&amp;rft.volume=105&amp;rft.issue=1&amp;rft.spage=7&amp;rft.epage=13&amp;rft.artnum=http%3A%2F%2Fjap.physiology.org%2Fcgi%2Fdoi%2F10.1152%2Fjapplphysiol.01121.2007&amp;rft.au=D.J.Pedersen&amp;rft.au=S.J.Lessard&amp;rft.au=V.G.Coffey&amp;rft.au=E.G.Churchley&amp;rft.au=A.M.Wootton&amp;rft.au=T.Ng&amp;rft.au=M.J.Watt&amp;rft.au=J.A.Hawley&amp;bpr3.included=1&amp;bpr3.tags=Psychology%2CHealth%2CKinesiology">D. J. Pedersen, S. J. Lessard, V. G. Coffey, E. G. Churchley, A. M. Wootton, T. Ng, M. J. Watt, J. A. Hawley (2008). High rates of muscle glycogen resynthesis after exhaustive exercise when carbohydrate is coingested with caffeine Journal of Applied Physiology, 105 (1), 7-13 DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01121.2007 </span>

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799 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: caffeine, doping, sport_science, wada, science_in_sports, sports_supplement, anti_doping

!http://drp2010.googlepages.com/hockeyscanner.jpg|height=147|width=200|src=http://drp2010.googlepages.com/hockeyscanner.jpg|border=0!When was the last time you listened to a sporting event on the radio?  If given a choice between watching the game on a big screen plasma in HD or turning on the AM radio, most of us would probably choose the visual sensation of television.  But, for a moment, think about the active attention you need in order to listen to a radio broadcast and interpret the play-by-play announcer's descriptions.  As you hear the words, your "mind's eye" paints the picture of the action so you can imagine the scene and situations.  Your knowledge of the game, either from playing it or watching it for years helps you understand the narrative, the terms and the game's "lingo".


Now, imagine that you are listening to a broadcast about a sport you know nothing about.  Hearing Bob Uecker or Vin Scully say, "With two out in the ninth, the bases are loaded and the Brewers' RBI leader has two strikes.  The infield is in as the pitcher delivers.  Its a hard grounder to third that he takes on the short hop and fires a bullet to first for the final out."  If you have no baseball-specific knowledge, those sentences are meaningless.  However, for those of us that have grown up with baseball, that description makes perfect sense and our mind's eye helped us picture the scene.  That last sentence about the "hard grounder" and the thrown "bullet" may have even triggered some unconscious physical movements by you as your brain interpreted those action phrases.  That sensorimotor reaction is at the base of what is called "[embodied cognition | http://www.iep.utm.edu/e/embodcog.htm]".  Sian Beilock , associate professor of psychology and leader of the Human Performance Lab at the University of Chicago , defined the term this way:  "In contrast to traditional views of the mind as an abstract information processor, recent work suggests that our representations of objects and events are grounded in action. That is, our knowledge is embodied, in the sense that it consists of sensorimotor information about potential interactions that objects or events may allow."  She cites a more complete definition of the concept in Six Views of Embodied Cognition by Margaret Wilson .  Another terrific overview of the concept is provided by science writer Drake Bennet of the Boston Globe in his article earlier this year, "[Don't Just Stand There, Think | http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2008/01/13/dont_just_stand_there_think/?page=1]".


In a study released yesterday, "Sports Experience Changes the Neural Processing of Action Language", Dr. Beilock's team continued their research into the link between our learned motor skills and our language comprehension about those motor skills.  Since embodied cognition connects the body with our cognition, the sports domain provides a logical domain to study it.


Their initial look at this concept was in a 2006 study titled, "Expertise and its embodiment: Examining the impact of sensorimotor skill expertise on the representation of action-related text", where the team designed an experiment to compare the knowledge representation skill of experienced hockey players and novices.  Each group first read sentences describing both hockey-related action and common, "every-day" action, (i.e. "the referee saw the hockey helmet on the bench" vs. "the child saw the balloon in the air").  They were then shown pictures of the object mentioned in the sentences and were asked if the picture matched the action in the sentence they read.  Both groups, the athletes and the novices, responded equally in terms of accuracy and response time to the everyday sentences and pictures, but the athletes responded significantly faster to the hockey-specific sentences and pictures.  The conclusion is that those with the sensorimotor experience of sport give them an advantage of processing time over those that have not had that same experience.


Now, you may be saying, "Ya' think!?" to this somewhat obvious statement that people who have played hockey will respond faster to sentence/picture relationships about hockey than non-hockey players. Stay with us here for a minute, as the 2006 study set the groundwork for Beilock's team to take the next step with the question, "is there any evidence that the athletes are using different parts of their brain when processing these match or no match decisions?"  The link between our physical skill memory and our language comprehension would be at the base of the embodied cognition theory.  So, in the latest research, the HPL team kept the same basic experimental design, but now wanted to watch the participants' brain activity using fMRI scanning .  This time, there were three groups, hockey players, avid fans of hockey and novices who had no playing or viewing experience with hockey at all.  First, all groups passively listened to sentences about hockey actions and also sentences about everyday actions while being monitored by fMRI.   Second, outside of the fMRI scanner, they again listened to hockey-related and everyday-related action sentences and then were shown pictures of hockey or every day action and asked if there was a match or mis-match between the sentence and the picture.


This comprehension test showed similar results as in 2006, but now the team could try to match the relative skill in comprehension to the neural activity shown in the fMRI scans when listening.  Both the players and the fans showed increased activity in the left dorsal premotor cortex, a region thought to support the selection of well-learned action plans and procedures.  You might be surprised that the fans' brains showed activity in the same regions as the athletes.  We saw this effect in a previous post, "Does Practice Make Perfect", where those that practiced a new dance routine and those that only watched it showed similar brain area activity.  On the other side, the total novices showed activity in the bilateral primary sensory-motor cortex, an area typically known for carrying out step by step instructions for new or novel tasks.  So, the interesting finding here is that those with experience, either playing or watching, are actually calling on additional neural networks in their brains to help their normal language comprehension abilities.  In other words, the memories of learned actions are linked and assist other cognitive tasks.  That sounds pretty much like the definition of embodied cognition and Dr. Beilock's research has helped that theory take another step forward.  In her words, "Experience playing and watching sports has enduring effects on language understanding by changing the neural networks that support comprehension to incorporate areas active in performing sports skills."


So, take pride in your own brain the next time you hear, "Kobe dribbles the ball to the top of the key, crosses over, drives the lane, and finger rolls over Duncan for two." If you can picture that play in your mind, your left dorsal premotor cortex just kicked into gear!


!http://www.researchblogging.org/public/citation_icons/rb2_large_gray.png|style=border: 0pt none;|alt=ResearchBlogging.org|src=http://www.researchblogging.org/public/citation_icons/rb2_large_gray.png!

<span style="font-size: small;" title="ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&amp;rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Ajournal&amp;rft.jtitle=ProceedingsoftheNationalAcademyofSciences&amp;rft.id=info:DOI/10.1073%2Fpnas.0803424105&amp;rft.atitle=Sportsexperiencechangestheneuralprocessingofactionlanguage&amp;rft.date=2008&amp;rft.volume=&amp;rft.issue=&amp;rft.spage=&amp;rft.epage=&amp;rft.artnum=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pnas.org%2Fcgi%2Fdoi%2F10.1073%2Fpnas.0803424105&amp;rft.au=S.L.Beilock&amp;rft.au=I.M.Lyons&amp;rft.au=A.Mattarella-Micke&amp;rft.au=H.C.Nusbaum&amp;rft.au=S.L.Small&amp;bpr3.included=1&amp;bpr3.tags=Psychology%2CNeuroscience%2CCognitiveNeuroscience%2CCognitivePsychology%2C+Learning">

 

 

 

S. L. Beilock, I. M. Lyons, A. Mattarella-Micke, H. C. Nusbaum, S. L. Small (2008). Sports experience changes the neural processing of action language Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0803424105

<span style="font-size: small;" title="ctx_ver=Z39.88-2004&amp;rft_val_fmt=info%3Aofi%2Ffmt%3Akev%3Amtx%3Ajournal&amp;rft.jtitle=PsychonomicBulletin%26Review&amp;rft.id=info:DOI/17201372&amp;rft.atitle=Expertiseanditsembodiment%3AExaminingthe%0D%0Aimpactofsensorimotorskillexpertiseonthe%0D%0Arepresentationofaction-relatedtext&amp;rft.date=2006&amp;rft.volume=13&amp;rft.issue=4&amp;rft.spage=694&amp;rft.epage=701&amp;rft.artnum=http%3A%2F%2Fhpl.uchicago.edu%2FPublications%2Fpapers_reprints%2FHolt_Beilock_PBR2006.pdf&amp;rft.au=LaurenE.Holt&amp;rft.au=SianL.Beilock&amp;bpr3.included=1&amp;bpr3.tags=Psychology%2CLearning%2CCognitive+Psychology">Lauren E. Holt, Sian L. Beilock (2006). Expertise and its embodiment: Examining the impact of sensorimotor skill expertise on the representation of action-related text Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 13 (4), 694-701 PMID: 17201372

549 Views 0 Comments Permalink Tags: sport_science, evidence_based_coaching, sports_cognition, sport_skills, youth_sports, sian_beilock, cognitive_science, science_in_sports


Dan Peterson

Dan Peterson

Member since: Oct 1, 2007

A Look Inside the Mind of the Athlete - You can find a mix of sport science, cognitive science, coaching and performance stories here as I focus on the "thinking" side of sports. My "home" is at http://blog.80percentmental.com. Thanks for stopping by!

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