As Tiger Woods returns to action this weekend at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, mortal golfers wonder what's inside his head that makes him so much better than us. Well, chances are his 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 Tiger, golfers who start young and commit to years of practice can also grow their brains while their handicaps shrink.
Just as struggling calculus students wonder if they will ever actually use their new proof-finding skills in real life, developing athletes may be curious if their endless practice drills will ever serve them off the field or court? Well, researchers at the University of Illinois have found at least one real life task that will benefit from an athlete’s unique cognitive abilities; crossing the street.
The problem with your diet is not that you’ve been eating the wrong food, but rather you’ve been thinking about your food all wrong. According to Alia Crum, a clinical psychology researcher at Yale University, our mind’s opinion of food labeled or thought of to be “diet” or “low fat” can actually affect our body’s physiological response after eating it, which changes our metabolism.
Her sneaky research team told 46 volunteers that they were getting two milkshakes to drink. In the first test, they were told they were sampling a “health” shake that had no fat, no added sugar and a skinny 140 calories. At a separate test, the same group were told they were rewarded with an “indulgent” shake weighing in at a guilt-inducing 620 calories and full of fat.
Last week, the Cubs made a rare visit to Fenway Park to face the Red Sox in a Major League Baseball inter-league series. Things got a little nasty when Sox pitcher Alfredo Aceves put a fastball into the face of the Cubs’ Marlon Byrd, causing multiple fractures. As is “tradition” in baseball, the Red Sox batters knew the score would be settled in the following game. After just missing Jed Lowrie with an inside pitch in the eighth inning, Cub pitcher Kerry Wood made sure he connected with his target and plunked Lowrie in the behind on the very next pitch.
To reach the NBA Finals, Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder needs to pass more, especially to his teammate Kevin Durant. That would be the message that two researchers would send to Thunder coach, Scott Brooks, if given the chance. Matt Goldman, a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego, and Justin Rao, a research scientist at Yahoo Labs recently named Westbrook as the biggest “chucker” in the NBA because of statistics showing that he shoots much more often than he should, while Durant is classified as an undershooter, whose team would benefit from him taking more chances.
while I was taking up my normal Saturday position on a youth soccer
game sideline, I overheard a conversation between two parents as they
watched the players warm-up. “I just love watching Billy play soccer.
He’s just one of those natural talents.” “I agree. Even though his
parents never played growing up, he just seems to have inherited all the
right genes to be a top player.”
Thankfully,the NFL Draft and all its hype is behind us. The matchmaking is complete but the guessing game begins as to which team picked the right combination of athletic skill, mental toughness and leadership potential in their player selections. Hundreds of hours of game film can be broken down to grade performance with X’s and O’s. Objective athletic tests at the NFL combine rank the NCAA football draftees by speed and strengths, just as the infamous Wonderlic intelligence test tries to rank their brain power.
Unless you are a true baseball fan, you have probably never heard of Bob Feller. Maybe you have heard of Nolan Ryan. They were classic power pitchers. They threw hard and they threw for strikes.
Even if you are a baseball fan, unless you live and breathe the Detroit Tigers, you have probably never heard of Joel Zumaya.
Right. Who? While playing in the American League Championship in 2006, he threw a fastball clocked at 104.8 MPH, the fastest in history. How can a guy who threw that fast not be on the cover of every Wheaties box in the civilized world? Because the following year he was 1-4 with a 4.28 ERA; hardly the stuff of legends.
When it comes to improving your golf game, you can spend thousands of dollars buying the latest titanium-induced, PGA player-promoted golf clubs; taking private lessons from the local "I used to be on the Tour" pro; or trying every slice-correcting, swing-speed-estimating, GPS-distance-guessing gadget. But, in the end, it’s about getting that little white sphere to go where you intended it to go.
Don't worry, there are many very smart people trying to help you by designing the ultimate golf ball. Of course, they are also after a slice of this billion dollar industry, as any technological advancement that can grab a few more market share points is worth the investment.