Tuesday, 17 July 2012

It must be love - Part 5

I've recently come back from a holiday in Croatia, and one of the things you notice is how many tennis courts there are. I don't know if they are all public, but they looked as if they might be. Here, we seem to have private clubs which can be rather intimidating. I think our club's pretty friendly, but Yummy Eileen's friend, There's Only One Monique, was once told off for showing off too much flesh when sunbathing. To be fair, our's is a country club, with swimming pool, gym, restaurant and plenty of families. Anyway, I can trump that. I was told off at a tennis club.......for playing tennis. YE belongs to two clubs, the second of which is just a tennis club. She'd been telling me how friendly everyone was there, so I was looking forward to it when she invited me to a lunch there. I made a special effort top dress up in my smartest smart casual. My initial impression was that it was a friendly club. I got chatting to a nice couple who turned out to be the aforementioned TOOM, her husband Delvis (plays in a band) and their young daughter. Most of the members were out on court at various times, so the daughter was left on her own looking rather bored. I took pity on her and suggested we had a little knock-up on a free court. We found rackets and were just tapping the ball over the net to each other when YE came over to say that a committee member told her we had to stop because I wasn't wearing proper tennis shoes. It had been a long time since I'd been told off - as an adult you don't really expect it. I was feeling pretty embarrassed when I came back into the clubhouse, and since no one spoke to me I left as soon as possible. So much for a friendly club. And now there's someone at this club who's really horrible to YE because she plays in the team for our club (which she's done for years) and not for hers. It's just the kind of pettiness that puts people off joining a tennis club, and maybe even be part of the reason why we don't produce as many top tennis players as we should. David Donner

Monday, 2 July 2012

Olympic Countdown - Shooting

Brain waves Research has shown significant increases in left hemisphere alpha activity (8-12 Hz) during shot preparation of skilled marksmen (Hatfield et al 1994), and between the best and worst shots of elite archers (Salazar et al 1990). Increases in alpha waves are often associated with a reduced overall activity of the brain. Haufler et al (2000) found that during aiming, when marksmen were compared with novice shooters, marksmen exhibited less activation (increased alpha with less beta and gamma activity) at all electrode sites on the head. The most pronounced differences were in the left central-temporal parietal areas. Kerick et al (2001) looked at skilled marksmen during shooting. Over an eight-second period preceding the trigger pull, they exhibited greater alpha activity in the left temporal area compared with a control activity. Hatfield et al (1984) also found a progressive increase in alpha power during the last 7.5 seconds of aiming, whilst there no change in the right temporal area. “So what?” I hear you say. Well, what if you could control your own brainwaves? This is what “EEG biofeedback” aims to do. It’s been used in the treatment of ADHD. The procedure usually involves watching a video game, and when the desired effect occurs (such as reducing theta waves) they get an encouragement, such as a beep or a character moving in the desired direction. Lander et al (1991) used EEG biofeedback to see if it could improve archery performance. Research shows that shooters have reduced cortical activity in the left temporal area when shooting. Experienced pre-elite male (16) and female (8) archers were randomly assigned to one of three treatment conditions. a) Correct feedback (i.e. greater left hemisphere low-frequency activity; b) incorrect feedback (i.e. greater right hemisphere low-frequency feedback, and c) no feedback control. They found that those trained to shift the level of cortical activity towards more negativity in the left temporal region showed a significant improvement in performance, and those trained to shift the level of cortical activity towards more negative in the right temporal region showed significantly poorer performance. There was no change in the control group. However, all is not as clear cut as it might seem. Examination of participants’ EEG spectra from pre- to post-training failed to reveal a clear pattern of change as a result of the training. So we’re not there yet. But one day it’s likely that shooters will be able to control the brainwaves to help them win gold. David Donner