August 1, 2012

Eccentric methods that makes you better at Sports

We all know that in competitive sport, small advantages matter. The difference between winning and losing can be milliseconds, or millimeters. Here are some brain hacks that surprisingly give you that advantage. You should definitely read this.

Eccentric methods that makes you better at Sports
By Vidit Gujrathi 


A star player misses a critical win; a brilliant student fails to ace a test; a savvy salesperson blows a key presentation. Each of these people has suffered the same bump in mental processing: They have just choked under pressure. This is 'Paralysis by analysis'

Arnold Palmer, known for playing well in tight spots and being untouchable once ahead, choked the 1966 U.S. Open twice: He blew a 5-stroke lead in the last four holes of regulation, and in the playoff the next day, he blew 6 strokes in the final eight holes, losing the tournament.

Choking is suboptimal performance, not just poor performance. It's a performance that is inferior to what you can do and have done in the past and occurs when you feel pressure to get everything right," said Beilock, an associate professor in psychology.

But it turns out that the solution to all of it can be as simple as singing.

Research indicates that doing anything that your brain also controls (singing or humming) preoccupies your mind from the task at hand and will keep those pathways from becoming over active. This in turn keeps your working memory from shutting down and prevents you from choking. It's essentially just distracting your conscious mind long enough that your muscle memory can finish the job.


British anthropologists Russell Hill and Robert studied the results of the 2004 Olympics (at Athens)  and found that the team or person wearing red was more likely to win in close matches -- and that's across a huge variety of team and individual sports, like soccer, tae kwon do and wrestling.

"Where there was a large point difference—presumably because one contestant was far superior to the other—color had no effect on the outcome,"  "Where there was a small point difference, the effect of color was sufficient to tip the balance -Barton

This sounds totally absurd,but it is true especially when studies and heavy statistics are presented.

The researchers had a straightforward explanation for why wearing red makes a difference. Across the animal kingdom, red colouration is associated with male dominance, signalling aggression and danger to others. The vividness of the red displayed by individuals of various species has been shown to relate to the amount of the hormone testosterone they have in the bodies, which also correlates with their physical heath and eventual breeding sucess. The researchers claimed that humans too are subject to this "red = dominance" effect, and so, for combat sports, the athlete wearing red had a psychological advantage.

*Note to Sports shops! Stock up red!






Behaviour is contagious. If you see someone yawn or smile, it's often a matter of seconds before you do the same yourself. This copying behaviour also turns out to work on the soccer pitch. "The more convincingly someone celebrates their success with their teammates, the greater the chances that team will win," according to Dr. Gert-Jan Pepping, Sport Scientist and lecturer in Human Movement Sciences at the University of Groningen.

No matter how many times the NFL calls it unsportsmanlike and throws fines and penalty flags at it, excessive celebration after scoring might actually help a team win. And it's true in just about every sport. A study found that players who overtly celebrated with their teammates -- particularly during an important game were more likely to win!

Pepping and his research group (Moll, Jordet, & Pepping, 2010) studied a large number of penalty shootouts during important soccer matches, but only as long as the score in the shootout was still equal. After every shot at goal, the player was assessed on the degree to which he expressed happiness and pride after scoring. 

This revealed that the players who expressed this clearly, for example by throwing their arms up into the air, usually belonged to the winning team. "This enthusiastic behaviour infected the team with a positive attitude. Also important, the opposing team was made to feel that little bit more insecure."


Sports drinks are a huge business -- Gatorade alone makes well over a billion dollars a year. And the reason so many athletes swear by them is the promise of increased performance, replacing all those vital nutrients lost during exercise, just like the ads say.

It turns out, however, that all that electrolyte and re-hydration technology is nothing compared to the simple pleasure of having a bunch of sugar in your mouth

The researchers had endurance athletes rinse their mouths with either of two carb-containing drinks, the athletes' exercise performance improved. The same was not true when the athletes were given water flavored with an artificial sweetener.

What's more, brain scans showed that simply swishing the carbohydrate drinks around the mouth activated particular areas of the brain associated with pleasure and reward. Again, the artificially sweetened water did not have the same effects.

Using a brain imaging technique called fMRI, Chambers and his colleagues found that the carb drinks sparked activity in brain areas related to both movement control and pleasure.
The researchers speculate that the brain activation allowed the athletes to work harder without feeling like they were.

So,Next time you enter a competition remember to wear a red jersey--Sing as you play--Gulp up sports drinks and start shouting after you score ;)