View Full Version : Actuarial Sighting - Friday's Wall St Journal, Nov 8, p A11
11-08-2002, 02:16 PM
Today's WSJ has a letter to the editor from Ed Shoop, who does not identify himself as an actuary, but is FCAS 1979.
Ed responds to an article that was entitled "Yogi Berra Was Right - Baseball May be 90% Mental After All" on neuroscientists' take on hitting a baseball. Ed adds that the single most important thing an athlete can do to improve performance is practice, and he discusses developing muscle memory, or neural/brain connections.
Good to see you in print, Ed !
(Sorry, I can not provide a link to the article without having an online subscription to WSJ.)
11-08-2002, 02:42 PM
(I've got an online subscription.)
It Takes Brains to Use Brawn
Marilyn Chase's Oct. 29 article ("Yogi Berra Was Right -- Baseball May Be 90% Mental After All, Neuroscientists Say, Recognizing Brain's Key Role") on the neuroscientists' take on hitting a baseball was interesting, but it omitted the role of the single most important thing an athlete, or indeed any regular guy (or gal) can do to develop and improve performance: practice.
The brain/neural connections "learn" from practice (that is, repetition). The more repetitions, the better the performance. It's also known as developing "muscle memory" (neural/brain connections).
When I first started shooting a basketball as a boy, I did it with my shoulder muscles. It was the only way I could launch the ball to the hoop. As I grew, my upper arm muscles got involved. Then my forearm muscles improved my shot. A "good shooting eye" began to emerge from my wrist muscles. Then my finger muscles took over. Finally, my brain realized that the last things that touched the ball were my fingertips, and (in combination with my brain) I used those muscles to "finish" my shot. This is why the "finger roll" is the ultimate "touch" shot. Good shooters will tell you they feel they can influence the path of the ball after it leaves their fingertips. This doesn't make physical sense, but it does reflect on the participation of the brain in the process. The same process holds true for hitting a baseball or catching a fly ball. It brings to mind that old saw: "Once you learn how, it's easy." And it is.
We can't grow bigger cerebella, but we can darn sure practice. Tiger Woods didn't "get good" by just hanging around the greens.
11-08-2002, 08:22 PM
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