The Importance of Sports

Sports are more than just fun and games. From schoolyard chants to Super Bowl championships, playful competition finds its way into nearly all aspects of culture. Fighting to win draws on cooperation, concentration, coordination, and creativity—things worth striving for in their own right.

Here we offer commentary on why we care who wins, what drives us to go for the goal, and what leads to greatness on the playing field, on the chess board, or in the office. On your marks!

Recent posts on Sport and Competition

Karate Kata and Cognition

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on September 11, 2017 in Black Belt Brain
Thoughts from a woman who started training at age 80: "when I started to train in karate, my grandchildren said 'Grandma--you are crazy!' but now they are so proud of me."

Orienting the Incoming Class: How I Introduce Myself

By Michael Karson Ph.D., J.D. on September 11, 2017 in Feeling Our Way
Orient trainees by displaying clinical values.

Out on the Pitch

How is the mental health of LGBT athletes affected by coming out of or staying in the closet?

Gambling On Sports

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on September 08, 2017 in In Excess
Gambling on sporting events is an incredibly popular activity, but what evidence is there that this particular type of gambling can be problematic?

Exercise and Its Benefits for Sleep

By Michael J Breus Ph.D. on September 06, 2017 in Sleep Newzzz
Making exercise part of your regular routine can contribute to healthier, more restful sleep—and may help improve sleep issues such as insomnia.

Can't Do It Perfectly? Just Do It, Badly!

By Christopher Bergland on September 06, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Most of us have a fear of failure. New research suggests that lowering expectations and vowing to "Just Do It, Badly" is a motto that can help you overcome performance anxiety.

One Surefire Way to Release Endorphins Into Your Brain

By Christopher Bergland on September 01, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Researchers in Finland have identified a reliable way to trigger the release of endorphins in the human brain.

US Open: Do Tennis Players Who Grunt Have an Advantage?

By Robert Burriss Ph.D. on August 28, 2017 in Attraction, Evolved
Researchers have found that tennis professionals grunt differently when they win and lose. So, can we predict the winners at the 2017 US open by their grunts alone?

First, Cause Pain

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on August 26, 2017 in Black Belt Brain
The martial arts concept of graduated response can also be used to give others latitude to alter behaviors before we apply severe reprimand or caustic criticism.

Chronic Stress Discombobulates Gut Microbiome Communities

By Christopher Bergland on August 25, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
When people are relaxed, gut microbiome communities hum in perfect harmony. However, stress wreaks havoc on the gut-brain axis in unpredictable ways, according to a new study.

Debunking 10 Common Concussion Myths

By Harry Kerasidis M.D. on August 24, 2017 in Brain Trauma
You may be aware of concussions, but is your understanding based on fact or fiction?

The Microbiome-Gut-Brain Axis Relies on Your Vagus Nerve

By Christopher Bergland on August 23, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
An extensive scientific review concludes that the vagus nerve facilitates bidirectional communication along the gut-brain axis.
123rf, with permission

Inspiration for Athletic Success Must Come From Within

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on August 21, 2017 in The Power of Prime
Inspiration must arise from a very deep place within you. This inspiration is grounded in who you are and it absolutely forces its way out of you, demanding that you take action.

Does Gut Microbiome Influence Mindset and Mental Toughness?

By Christopher Bergland on August 20, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Harvard scientists have pinpointed specific gut microbiome linked to peak athletic performance. Someday soon, these findings could be used to benefit people from all walks of life.

Meditation, Mindfulness, and Endurance Sports

By David Dillard-Wright Ph.D. on August 19, 2017 in Boundless
David talks with Meredith Atwood about meditation and endurance sports.

What Leads to Cooperation and Competition?

By Peter T. Coleman Ph.D. on August 17, 2017 in The Five Percent
What leads to cooperation or competition in the first place? Exploring 10 big ideas on peace and justice from Morton Deutsch.

No, Team, No!

By Laurie Helgoe Ph.D. on August 15, 2017 in Introvert Power
He's young, healthy, and not into sports? How to stop seeing this as a problem.

How Over-Learning can Solidify a Skill

Can practicing a skill beyond the point of mastery solidify it in memory? Study suggests it can, and that neural inhibition might prevent interference by another task.

Death, Taxes, and Urination

The cognitive effects of withholding urination are discussed in the context of athletic performance.

Road and Sideline Rage

What to do if you’re a person or parent subject to misplaced anger and aggression.

Is Connectivity Neurofeedback Training the Next Big Thing?

By Christopher Bergland on August 07, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Neuroscientists have developed a technique called "functional connectivity neurofeedback training" that can alter cognitive function and performance. This could be revolutionary.
Laura Miele, PhD

Psychology of the ”Gladiator Effect” and Women's Lacrosse

By Laura M Miele Ph.D. on August 03, 2017 in The Whole Athlete
Does the "Gladiator Effect" affect helmet use among U.S. women's lacrosse players?

Just How Far Will a Narcissist Go to Hide Failure?

Experiencing failure is not an option for people high in narcissism. New research shows the lengths they'll go to so they can avoid confronting their weaknesses.

Eyes, Feet, Posture, Power: Look Before You Leap

By E. Paul Zehr Ph.D. on July 30, 2017 in Black Belt Brain
Efficient application of the maxim "eyes, feet, posture, power" goes far beyond physical technique, all the way to improving interpersonal interactions and life ambitions.

The "Professionalization" of Youth Sports

"It's a disgrace what we're doing. We're asking kids to compete to win. Why not ask them to compete to have fun?" Sparky Anderson, Baseball Hall of Fame manager
Thomas Wolter

The Stress of Competition: Alleviating Athletes' Anxiety

By Jay Winner M.D. on July 22, 2017 in Stress Remedy
Competition-related stress is universal. How can you minimize distress and maximized performance?

Stanford Researchers Identify Life-changing Power of Mindset

Mindset plays a surprisingly significant role in our health and longevity, according to a new study from Stanford University.

Does Video Game Addiction Really Exist?

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on July 19, 2017 in Media Spotlight
Despite the political pressure to declare video game addiction a real disorder, the basic science still isn't there. What will this mean for concerned parents and therapists?
Pictofigo-Idea/wikimediacommons

The "Lazy" Edge

Setting goals and striving as hard as you can is great—except when it backfires. A paradoxical story within a story illustrates the challenge and points to a solution.