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

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.

Does Testosterone Really Just Make Men Aggressive?

The conventional wisdom about testosterone is that it drives aggressiveness and competition. But new research reveals that social rank is also important.

The Teenage Years: 4 Questions That May Predict Thriving

One factor may matter more than you might expect for kids in their teenage years. A recent study from Brazil and Romania has important implications for American teenagers.

At Wimbledon, Grunts May Separate Winners from Losers

Two new studies reaffirm that speaking (or grunting) in a lower pitch voice can make you appear less submissive in daily life and help you perform better in sporting competitions.

New Research Explains Why Some of Us Really Hate to Exercise

A new study suggests that shifting rigid mindsets and stereotypes about what it means to be "athletic" may be the secret to making moderate-intensity exercise actually feel good.

Social-Emotional Development in a Hyper-Competitive Age

Our current political situation is a logical conclusion of many years of celebrating competition and success that are achieved at the expense of others.

Hunter-gatherer Ancestry May Be Why Our Brains Need Exercise

A radical new evolutionary neuroscience theory may explain how our hunter-gatherer ancestors inadvertently hardwired our modern day brains to thrive on everyday physical activity.

David and Goliath: When Sports Inspire National Pride

By Jenni Ogden Ph.D. on June 26, 2017 in Trouble in Mind
When a small country beats a massive country in sport, we can all take inspiration from that.

Times of Change in College Athletics

By Brian Tompkins on June 26, 2017 in View From The Dugout
When a veteran college coach becomes an administrator, the change in perspective bears similarities to that of a freshman athlete.

Money, Pride, and Injury Risks in Youth Sports

There are too many people focused on making money off of youth sports in the United States, while putting the health and other interests of young athletes at risk.
pixabay, via pexels

How to Win at Sports

Can changing internal temperature make muscles stronger? Can biological clocks make you more fit?

Put Your Own Spin on It

Have you ever wondered just how far to push your body while exercising? Is pain really good for your psyche?
CCO Creative Commons

5 Keys to Making Mental Training like Your Sports Training

By Jim Taylor Ph.D. on June 20, 2017 in The Power of Prime
Despite athletes and coaches saying that the mind is so important, it is the piece of the athletic performance puzzle that is most neglected.

Playing to Win: Should Youth Specialize in Sports?

Data show that more youth than ever train year-round for a single sport and travel to compete against higher-level teams. But is this good for kids?

When Coaching, Not Talent, Wins

By Steven Berglas Ph.D. on June 13, 2017 in Executive Ego
The Warriors' win holds lessons for every executive, basketball fan or not.

Dog Obedience Trials Began Because of Poodles and a Farmer

A woman's desire to prove that Poodles were not stupid useless dogs ultimately gave birth to modern dog obedience trials

6 Ways Public Swimming Pools Have Changed

Gone are the unadorned rectangular pools of yesteryear. Now, public pools are full-fledged aquatic complexes that proffer an immersive experience.