Run Like You Stole Something

Run Like You Stole Something

Run Like You Stole Something

Run Like You Stole Something


The facts, myths, curiosities and absurdities of sports science - something for every sports fan.


One of the hallmarks of sport when played at the elite level is speed. We love it. Humans often express amazement at the ability of athletes to generate speed. Tim Montgomery's average speed for his 100 metres world record of 36.8 km/h pales into insignificance when compared to the ball speeds generated in many sports. For example, Tiger Woods has hit a golf drive measured off the club face at 288 km/h, while badminton shuttlecocks have been clocked travelling at 320 km/h. While it is easy to get carried away with a projectile's velocity, it's the player on the receiving end who is really demonstrating some speed. The faster the tennis serve or baseball pitch, the more amazing the processing speed of the receiver or batter when trying to make contact. Such restrictive time demands and the subsequent importance of being able to make a decision before implement-ball contact has generated a complete field of sport science study.

Researchers have been interested in understanding how players anticipate an opponent's action and what the pre-contact information sources (also known as cues) are that they use. This chapter reviews a number of time-stressed sporting situations, revealing the tight demands placed on the visual processing capabilities of the players involved. Obviously the visual processing system is vital, even when there is no great time-stress, so we examine its role in the execution of slowerpaced skills, such as the basketball free throw. And finally, what would a chapter on vision and sport be without some mention of how we can improve our sporting performance by simply watching television? Stay tuned!

fou know?

The impact time of a golf club and ball is 0.0005 seconds (ie. 0.5 milliseconds). Tiger Woods won the 2002 US Masters Golf Championship with a twelveunder total of 276, meaning that his clubs were in contact with the ball for 0.138 seconds over the entire four rounds!

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