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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Washington Post: Jenkins: Lessons From the School of Hardwood

No such thing as grit? The science says otherwise:

If you detect something profound in the NCAA tournament, there is no need to apologize, because you are right, according to renowned neurobiologist Angela Lee Duckworth. A MacArthur Fellowship “genius grant” recipient who has her own research lab at the University of Pennsylvania, Duckworth studies traits that predict achievement, and her special focus is on the quality known as “grit.” It’s not just a descriptive term the way Duckworth understands and employs it.

Grit is the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals,” Duckworth writes.

She has developed a measurement for it by studying a range of achievers from West Point cadets, to National Spelling Bee winners, to the Seattle Seahawks, and is at work on a book about it. Her work shows that it’s a more important factor in success than talent, IQ or privilege.

In 2013, Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll saw a TED Talk by Duckworth, who is a Harvard- and Oxford-educated psychologist, and became fascinated. They began a series of conversations that helped Carroll refine what the Seahawks look for in players. Early in her research career, Duckworth developed a questionnaire to turn grit into a metric: By scoring the answers to a dozen queries, she rated people on a scale of 1 to 5. (I got a 4.3).

What Duckworth didn’t know was whether grit could be taught as well as measured. Carroll assured her that it could be: Coaches do it all the time. He offered up the Seahawks as a kind of laboratory for her. Duckworth will be visiting them in May. Duckworth is deeply interested in how to teach grit, because she did a stint as a public school math teacher in New York. At the heart of it is the ability to respond to failure or adversity, rather than give up.

Ignore the column’s emphasis on basketball; focus on grit, the greatest of all virtues.

The Yankee Clapper Posted: March 31, 2015 at 08:47 PM | 11 comment(s)
  Beats: basketball, coaching, grit, ncaa, science, testing

Friday, March 27, 2015

David Ortiz writes The Dirt

Big Papi wants to know if you’re taking steroids.

I’m buying an over-the-f***ing-counter supplement in the United States of America. I’m buying this stuff in line next to doctors and lawyers. Now all of a sudden MLB comes out and says there’s some ingredient in GNC pills that have a form of steroid in them. I don’t know anything about it.

If you think I’m full of it, go to your kitchen cabinet right now and read the back of a supplement bottle and honestly tell me you know what all of that stuff is. I’m not driving across the border to Mexico buying some shady pills from a drug dealer. I’m in a strip mall across from the Dunkin’ Donuts, bro.

bbmck Posted: March 27, 2015 at 08:53 AM | 31 comment(s)
  Beats: hall of fame, ortiz, peds, red sox, testing

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Washington Post: A Career In The Balance

Was blind but now can see?

Donatelli trains willing athletes to improve their vestibular system — colloquially known as the inner ear, the system that controls balance. That system aids the eyes in focusing on a target even while the body and head are moving. Dysfunction in the vestibular system can affect an athlete’s ability to see things in motion, such as a baseball hurtling his way while his head and body are rotating to hit it.

Head trauma can cause dysfunction in the vestibular system. Uggla was hit in the head by a pitch in July 2012 and again in the back of the head by a pitch during spring training in 2013. Uggla himself did not definitively classify his reaction as a concussion, and Donatelli said Uggla did not have the symptoms — dizziness, nausea, etc. — that would have alerted the Braves that any kind of severe head trauma had taken place.
.  .  .
When Uggla got there, Donatelli ran him through 12 tests that helped assess his vestibulo-ocular reflex. Uggla failed them all. Donatelli moved Uggla’s head to the left and right and asked him to read an eye chart. Uggla, who had Lasik surgery when he initially had trouble seeing the ball in 2012, had 20-15 static vision. With his head moving, that vision dropped to 20-100.

“I can’t tell when I’m sitting here talking to you. Before [going to Donatelli], I would think I can see you just fine,” said Uggla, who will turn 35 in March. “But I guess when I get on the baseball field and my head starts moving around . . . it was kind of bad.”

Donatelli pushed Uggla through exercises such as jumping on a trampoline blindfolded or reading while moving his head. Those movements isolated Uggla’s vestibular system and forced his eyes and inner ear to recalibrate.

If this can save the career of a wretch like Uggla . . .


 

 

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