Network analysis applied to soccer

Technology is changing sport is countless ways. Ray Keefe of Successful Endeavours in Melbourne Australia sent me the following article from the MIT Technology Review that shows how network analysis can reveal a soccer team’s strategy… Very interesting.

Soccer network

 

 

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The 5 Best Skate Events in the World

Skateboards, PennyOriginally deemed to be just a fad, the art of skateboarding is now satisfyingly ranking around the same level as rap and video games for sheer piss-off-your-parents ability. But that’s not the reason why people take up this sport – well for some maybe. It’s about creativity, expression, freedom, triumph when you accomplish that trick and above all – pure destruction.

Because of its staying-power and ever-increasing popularity, it’s only natural that many competitions exist for skaters, seasoned or amateur to show off their skills. If you’re a professional skateboarder or just a happy spectator keen to keep an eye on the competition front, here is some of the best competitions to add to 2014’s calendar.

Dew Tour

While the Dew Tour may only be in its ninth year, it has made a huge impact on the world of skateboarding. The free four-day action and lifestyle festival has three separate events throughout the year focusing on different types of extreme sports from snowboarding to skateboarding. The summer series is where professional skateboarders and BMX riders come together to shred up the other competition. Along with live music acts and an MTV television broadcast, fans get the whole interactive experience with pro athlete meet and greats, sponsors freebies, and the opportunity to ride the skate and BMX fan courses.

X-Games

Nearing its twentieth year, the X Games is the epitome of extreme sports. It features the biggest collection of alternative sports including skateboarding, mountain bike, surfing, race car riders and roller blading in the summer and snowboarding, slope-style and snowmobile in the winter. Thousands of fans gather together for each event with the aim of witnessing a moment in sporting history. The X-Games boasts a carnival atmosphere with a multitude of tents and booths, along with the unavoidable expensive stall food, souvenirs and another sport related goodies.

Mystic Sk8 Cup

Regarded as the best skateboarding competition Europe has to offer, the Mystic Sk8 Cup not like any other. It’s not because of the $40,000 prize packet nor the fact that it offers both men’s and woman’s rounds. The Mystic Sk8 Cup is unique for one reason: each year the organisers like to spice it up by building a brand new skate park to meet the latest trends. This makes it interesting as competitors never know what to expect; it inspires them to perform at the top of their game and perform ground-breaking tricks. The contests include both men’s and women’s street competitions, prizes for vert and best trick. The Mystic Sk8 Cup is usually held in early July in Prague, Czech.

The Tampa Pro

Every year Tampa, Florida plays host to one of the most widely broadcasted skateboarding competitions, the Tampa Pro. Much like the Mystic Sk8 Cup, the competition is held at the Skatepark of Tampa where a new course is designed every year to keep the contestants on their toes.

There you have it, four great skate board championships to add to this year’s calendar. Interested in taking up skateboarding? Don’t make your first board one of those poorly designed creations from a department store. Make sure it’s a good quality skateboard from reputable brands like Penny Skateboards. With boards like this, you’ll be able to master awesome tricks in no time at all.

This is a guest post – if you would like to submit one, please contact us and we’ll send your our terms and conditions and writer”s guidelines.

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Turning negative self talk into positive affirmations

Negative self talk is hard to stop, but at least now you have a fun way to stop it!

Sports psychologists have known for decades that the mind can:

  1. Only have one thought at a time and
  2. It cannot focus on the REVERSE of an idea or thought.

What that means if you are a squash player, is that if you say “don’t tin the ball, or don’t choke or don’t boast“, the brain only hears “tin the ball, or choke or boast.”

You need to replace your negative statements with positive affirmation statements, as suggested below.

Worrying

 

Negative self talk Positive Affirmation
Damn it! OK, next point.
F$@##$#%#!!! FOCUS!
Idiot /Stupid C’mon, you can do better!
Bad shot Think of the RIGHT shot
Shot is too good Next time I will be ready
Can’t get there I almost got to it
Lucky shot I’m next to get lucky
Bad call (by the ref) The next call will go my way
No let?!?!? Next time I will strike the ball
Stroke?!?!? OK now I know how he’s calling it (the ref)
It was up! I know it was up, the next time he will too!
(Serve called down/out) Focus – this is an EASY error to fix!
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5 health goals you should aim for in 2014

Measure Your HealthStaying healthy and fit is not just important so you don’t get in trouble when you visit the doctor. Instead, maintaining a certain level of health helps you live a long life, watch your children grow old and get more out of the time you do spend on this earth.

Now that it’s 2014, what are five health goals you should aim for? Have you included them in your New Year’s Resolutions?

#1 Plan a Realistic Diet

Many diets don’t help people to set realistic goals, and this is a major reason as to why they fail. Some diets want you to eat a ridiculously low amount of calories each day or to completely eliminate one food from your diet. By choosing to participate in one of these plans, you are practically saying you want to fail. Instead, work to craft a diet that integrates a variety of foods and does not leave you starving at the end of the day. If you want to test the latest – easiest diet – try the Fast Diet which means you reduce your caloric intake 2 days out of 7 instead of starving yourself all week long.

#2 Exercise on a Regular Basis

You might roll your eyes or shrug your shoulders when you think about joining the gym again and how crowded it gets at this time of the year. You don’t necessarily need to go to the gym, lift weights and run the treadmill to improve your health. Instead, consider participating in a sport you enjoy or signing up for some exercise classes you always wanted to try out. You could even look for a walking or running group around your community or neighborhood.

#3 Doctor and Dentist Appointments

Certainly, you can take some tips to improve your own health at home, and you might read some books or guides to help you out. However, no matter what, nothing can take the place of advice from a qualified medical practitioner. Let this be the year when you start to see your doctor on a regular basis again for an annual physical exam. You should also set an appointment with a dentist to ensure your teeth stay are and remain in good health. Remember, dental health is related to the overall health of your body and your wellness.

#4 Reduce Stress

Some people start out the year by saying they are going to get rid of all the stress in their lives. However, we are just human beings, and we are always going to have at least a little bit of stress. Instead of setting this unrealistic goal of eliminating all stress or booking the best Chiropedic in Melbourne (or wherever you are), work to reduce its presence in your life rather than trying to eliminate entirely. This might mean you work less hours at work or you let someone else take charge of a major project. Stress can contribute to ailments, make your life significantly less healthy and in extreme cases even kill you.

#5 Know Your Medical History

Confronting diseases that ailed, or even killed, beloved family members is difficult, but you must do so if you want to stay healthy. learn what your family’s medical history is, and start to take steps to help yourself. For example, if breast cancer runs in your family, now is the time to start going for regular examinations. We all know that early detection is the best source of prevention and disease management – but that can’t happen in ignorance.

Let’s face it, without good heath, life becomes much less enjoyable – most ailments and health issues are preventable, but it’s up to you to do something about it… NOW.

This has been a guest post – if you would like to publish on this or any of our other blogs, please contact us.

 

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Willoughby Squash – Motivational Messages

If you play squash at Willoughby Squash Club, you’ll notice new motivational messages at the entrance to the men’s and women’s changing rooms. It’s a fantastic reminder to focus on the mental side of the game – inspiring positive thinking and enhancing mental toughness.
Willoughby Squash - Messages -2

What additional motivational messages or Words Of Wisdom would you want to add?

Willoughby Squash - Messages -1

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Negative Self Talk: Stop It!

I recently presented mental toughness strategies at the East Coast Squash Academy‘s Adult Squash camp organised by squash professional Aaron Frankcomb at Willoughby Squash Club in Sydney. Attended by a wide range of squash players, it became quite obvious that squash is a very demanding sport physically and technically where attention to stroke execution, shot selection and court movement can provide beneficial results.

While focusing on technical improvement can yield incremental results over time, today’s lesson can produce INSTANT results and in some extreme cases, a quantum leap forward!

Please watch this video and then scroll down.

The next time you are on the squash court and hear yourself talking negatively about something you just did or that just happened…

STOP IT!

Think back to this video as your pattern interrupt.

The first step is to Stop it – then you will need to replace the negative self-talk with something positive.

Sports psychologists have known for decades that the mind can (1) only have one thought at a time and (2) it cannot focus on the REVERSE of an idea or thought. What that means is that if you say “don’t tin the ball, or don’t choke or don’t boast“, the brain only hears “tin the ball, or choke or boast.”

First things first – Stop It and come back to this blog for more on how to replace negative self talk with positive self affirmations. There are a few “tricks” to getting this right…

Just like today’s distinction – most players don’t know this stuff!

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Games are won or lost mentally or technically

I recently presented mental toughness strategies at the East Coast Squash Academy‘s Adult Squash camp organised by squash professional Aaron Frankcomb at Willoughby Squash Club in Sydney. Attended by a wide range of squash players, it became quite obvious that squash is a very demanding sport physically and technically where attention to stroke execution, shot selection and court movement can provide beneficial results.

Many players readily admit the mental side of the game is something they struggle with, in large part because they don’t know much about it and also because once they do learn about it, implementation is a very personal thing.

The first step in adopting what I call the Mindset Of A Champion is the admission that games are won or lost either technically or mentally.

Once that has been realised, then a player can start to self-assess him/herself on both dimensions.

Determining which one will yield the quickest result is simple.

Think back to your most recent match. How many points did you lose because of mental lapses (choking, nervousness, poor shot selection, going for a winner when under pressure, missing a shot you can easily make, tinning ‘easy’ shots, etc.) versus technical errors (poor racket preparation, no follow through, incorrect contact point, improper racket head speed, hitting the ball off-centre ball on the strings, etc.)

Chances are, quantum leaps are available to you with mental toughness training.

The benefit of mental toughness training is that it is often EASIER and QUICKER to improve mentally than it is physically. Technical improvements can take weeks and months to become natural within your “muscle memory” whereas mental strategies can have an IMMEDIATE impact as of your next game, match or tournament.

The first step is for you to determine how many mental mistakes you are making, as a percentage of the points you are losing…

Do that and stay tuned for future blog posts that will start to lay the groundwork for mental toughness within the context of the Mindset Of A Champion.

Not sure how to determine if a point was lost mentally or technically? Here is an example from this year’s 2014 Australian Open Tennis Championship. The last 2 points played by Novak Djokovic… that cost him the match in the fifth set.

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Perceptual Distortion

We have all had that experience playing a sport when time slows down and you see everything bigger, better and slower than it is… It’s called being in Flow, “the Zone”…

A recent article in The Economist Magazine was fascinating if only to shed some light on the concept of perceptual distortion

FLIES live shorter lives than elephants. Of that there is no doubt. But from a fly’s point of view, does its life actually seem that much shorter? This, in essence, was the question asked by Kevin Healy of Trinity College, Dublin, in a paper just published in Animal Behaviour. His answer is, possibly not.

Subjective experience of time is just that—subjective. Even individual people, who can compare notes by talking to one another, cannot know for certain that their own experience coincides with that of others. But an objective measure which probably correlates with subjective experience does exist. It is called the critical flicker-fusion frequency, or CFF, and it is the lowest frequency at which a flickering light appears to be a constant source of illumination. It measures, in other words, how fast an animal’s eyes can refresh an image and thus process information.

For people, the average CFF is 60 hertz (ie, 60 times a second). This is why the refresh-rate on a television screen is usually set at that value. Dogs have a CFF of 80Hz, which is probably why they do not seem to like watching television. To a dog a TV programme looks like a series of rapidly changing stills.

Having the highest possible CFF would carry biological advantages, because it would allow faster reaction to threats and opportunities. Flies, which have a CFF of 250Hz, are notoriously difficult to swat. A rolled up newspaper that seems to a human to be moving rapidly appears to them to be travelling through treacle.

Mr Healy reasoned that the main constraints on an animal’s CFF are its size and its metabolic rate. Being small means signals have less far to travel in the brain. A high metabolic rate means more energy is available to process them. A literature search, however, showed that no one had previously looked into the question.

Fortunately for Mr Healy, this search also showed that plenty of people had looked at CFF in lots of species for other reasons. Similarly, many other people had looked at the metabolic rates of many of the same species. And size data for species are ubiquitous. All he had to do, therefore, was correlate and repurpose these results. Which he did.

To simplify matters he looked only at vertebrates—34 species of them. At the bottom end of the scale was the European eel, with a CFF of 14Hz. It was closely followed by the leatherback turtle, at 15Hz. Tuataras clocked in at 46Hz. Hammerhead sharks tied with humans, at 60Hz, and yellowfin tuna tied with dogs at 80Hz. The top spot was occupied by the golden-mantled ground squirrel, at 120Hz. And when Mr Healy plotted his accumulated CFF data against both size and metabolic rate (which are not, it must be admitted, independent variables, as small animals tend to have higher metabolic rates than large ones), he found exactly the correlations he had predicted.

The upshot is that his hypothesis—that evolution pushes animals to see the world in the slowest motion possible—looks correct. Flies may seem short-lived to people, but from a dipteran point of view they can thus live to a ripe old age. Remember that next time you try (and fail) to swat one.

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Happy New Year

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Top 5 gym bag necessities

Gym BagHow many times have you intended to go for a workout session after work or school but forgot something and decided not to skip exercising and go home to the comfort of your couch…

We all know the saying that “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. It seems a bit extreme to compare this with forgetting something as silly as your towel, but if one of your goals or New Year’s Resolutions) is to take your fitness seriously, you are failing before you even get started.

That’s why a reminder to consider the contents of your gym bag can be the difference between working out – or not. I have seen many use their gym or in my case squash or hockey bags as a personal rubbish bag, filled with everything from dirty socks and underwear to damp towels and food that is months (years?) past its expiry date!

Your gym bag should be filled with the items you need based on your personal habits and expectations after your workout. Consider these must-have gym bag items for your next workout session.

Gym Towel

One of the most often forgotten items is your gym towel. Unless you are a member at a high end club, the last thing you want to do is borrow a towel or use one provided by the gym. The reason a gym towel is often missing from your gym bag is because you probably don’t forget to take it out to wash it, but might not remember to put it back into your gym bag!
You can’t really go workout without a towel since you need to wipe down the equipment after you finish using it – no one wants to use a piece of equipment that is full of your sweat.

Deodorant

You’ve just finished your intense session and you’re ready to get on with the rest of your day. You may be feeling on top of the world with your post gym glow, but you can’t exactly head into work, or out with the guys or ladies sporting your natural cologne. Instead, you’ll want to have Lynx deodorant handy.

Post Work Out Snack

Replenishing your body post workout with healthy food is important. Proteins and carbohydrates are important if you want to increase your energy levels and stimulate recovery. However, a hectic lifestyle may mean you might not have the chance to sit down and enjoy a full meal immediately following a gym or workout session. This is where pre-packing your bag with healthy snacks like protein bars, nuts, fruit and pre-made sandwiches come in handy and easy to eat while you’re on the go.

Thongs

Locker room foot fungus is prevalent in wet, damp environments like showers and changing rooms. If you plan on using the gym showers, protect your feet from Tinea by wearing thongs instead of walking around barefoot. It’s a small investment to avoid a chronic annoyance that is easily preventable with a little advance preparation.

Water

Sure, water fountains can be found in most gyms, but if you’ve ever had to use them it can get very frustrating having to stop what you’re doing, wait in line just to have a sip of water, not to mention doing your best to avoid germs on the tap. It’s much easier and less time consuming to be able to have your water bottle handy.

iPod or iPhone

Let’s face it – most gym exercises get to be routine and can be boring. Without music, most people admit they would never get through their workouts so make sure you prepare your playlists in advance to get and stay motivated.
What can’t you live without when heading out for a workout at the gym? Tell us in the comments below!

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