Sports Science

In the United States, professional basketball, the NBA, opens its regular season tonight. That means at this time tomorrow there will be talk that some player 'flopped' - fell on the ground to draw a foul and get a chance at a free basket.

A new analysis has found that two-thirds of the falls examined by the group at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev were found to be intentional.  And it happens a lot.

It happens so much because there is insufficient punishment for deception and teams are not doing the math. A cost/benefit analysis of "flopping" finds that 90 percent of the time no penalty is awarded, so as a strategy it is pointless.


There are lots of distance runners in the United States, there is no real gender gap about participation. But there is when it comes to competition, the difference is there.

A new paper in Evolutionary Psychology says that, on average, American men participate at track meets about three times as often as American women, and this difference has been consistent since the late 1990s. By contrast, at road races, the sex difference in participation has disappeared.


If you need another good reason to hit the gym, a new study finds it can improve memory. Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have found that an intense workout of as little as 20 minutes can enhance episodic memory, also known as long-term memory for previous events, by about 10 percent in healthy young adults



Dave ‘Bear’ Duerson, 22, in action. Credit: PA

By Jordan Gaines Lewis, Penn State College of Medicine

Ah, football. The great American pastime.

The freshly cut grass and crisply-painted yard lines. The sound of helmets clashing in an epic stack of large men vying for a single ball. Stands packed high with thousands upon thousands of crazed, prideful, body-painted fanatics. Dementia, confusion, and depression.

Wait, what? That last bit may not be present on game day, but for many football players, it’s brewing all along – with every clash, tackle, and fall.

Can hamstring injury be predicted? 

Hamstring strains account for most non-contact injuries in Australian rules football, football and rugby union, as well as track events like sprinting, and a team led by Dr. Anthony Shield, from
Queensland University of Technology,
and Dr. David Opar of Australian Catholic University, measured the eccentric hamstring strength of more than 200 AFL players from five professional clubs and may have a new metric for predicting problems.



Phil Mickelson tees off at Gleneagles. Credit: EPA

By Tony Westbury, Edinburgh Napier University

Medinah Country Club, Chicago, Ryder Cup 2012. There were six short feet between Martin Kaymer and the 18th hole. This was the moment. No other player, no spectator, none of the many millions watching on television would have dared breathe. The seconds stretched as the German composed himself for his final shot.


Australian Football League. Credit: Deirdre/Flickr

By Steve Ellen, Monash University

It’s Grand Final season – it might seem that nothing else matters about now.

Writing about the psychology of football is like writing about the psychology of love. A fool’s business. Nothing (so far) has quite made sense of how 100,000 people turn up to shout and scream, cry and gasp, and pin their fortunes on a bunch of athletes running around crashing into each other at the limits of human endurance.

It’s just good honest fun. Well, mostly honest.

Fan passion

A new study by researchers found that the majority of players were able to return to play after having knee surgery to repair an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

But age matters. athletes who had ACL surgery when they were in high school or younger were much more likely to suffer repeat ACL reinjuries than athletes who experienced their first ACL injury during collegiate play.


The NFL is putting the final touches on a new drug policy.This new policy, which is the first major update since the last policy in 2010, is between the NFL Players Association and the NFL. The significant changes are with regard to HGH (Human Growth Hormone) testing and marijuana use.

Having treated a number of active and former NFL players and worked with the NFL Players Association as well as being the founder and CEO of one of the leading addiction treatment centers in the nation, I feel comfortable making a comment on the subject of substance abuse in the NFL. 

The Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, WI, recently published a review discussing drug abuse in athletes. Drug abuse occurs in almost all sports and at most levels of teen and adult competition.