August 08, 2011

Sports & Psychology

Pain, vision, and prosthetics ... the August 8 issue of Sports Illustrated covers it all, with a sports twist. Yes, I am ready for some football, which is why when I saw Nnamdi Asomugha on the cover of the library's issue of Sports Illustrated, I picked it up. I kept reading David Epstein's great "special report" on Sports Medicine.

The most interesting, cognitive science-ly speaking, is this: The Truth About Pain: It's In Your Head, by Epstein. In which he talks about how stress-induced analgesia (SIA) -- "the temporary absence of pain" due to stressful events -- manifests for athletes. Hint: it helps cyclists get to the finish line after a long race up a very steep hill.

Also of interest to cognitive science folks is Epstein's article It's All About Anticipation, in which he explains why MLB hitters can't hit softball pitches. It's not because they're too slow, but because the hitters are so unfamiliar with softball pitchers' pitching style. There's a neat sidebar about visual acuity and high performance athletes: most can see at 20-15, but some can even see at 20-9 -- vastly better than the majority of folks whose acuity has been tested.

Epstein does a nice job explaining the science correctly and understandably.

royalty-free image from stock.xchng.