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The best 10 Sport Science lessons (part 1: hitting balls)

November 3, 2009 6 comments

This will be the first part of a 2 part feature on Sport Science, a TV show dedicated to the use of science and biomechanics to unlock the mysteries behind the many aspects of professional sports.

Sport Science is a Fox Sports show which uses the latest in athletic technology to study the modern athlete. It applies the principles of the scientific method to answer intriguing questions and shatter long held myths about all the sports we love.

A typical episode begins with a general question. Some questions seek to compare sports, such as baseball vs. cricket, while other questions are aimed at athletes. Once the question has been posed, professional and amateur athletes are brought into the Sport Science facility and undergo a series of experiments. The results from the experiments are analyzed and a conclusion is presented.

One great part about the show are the big name athletes. We not only get to see stars like Ray Lewis, Fedor Emelianenko, Drew Brees, and Jerry Rice, but we also get to see the biomechanics that makes them so great. We get to see Ray Lewis crash through a bolted door, Drew Brees hit bulls eyes with a football, and Fedor crush a dummy with a choke hold. Another great part of the show are the technologies they use. Here’s a peek into the toys they get to play with on Sport Science.

Professional sports have always been heavily laden with myths and superstitions. People believe that boxers should not have sex before a fight, that hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports, and hitting a golf ball Happy Gilmore style is impossible. Are they true, or just myths waiting to be debunked? Well, with Sport Science, we can finally answer those questions and many more.

Here are 5 of the best Sport Science clips that will change the way you think about these sports.

#5 Golf – The easiest way to gain an extra 10 yards on your drives

Having a long drive is one of the biggest advantages of a golf player. The best players have always been near the top of the list of long drivers. Sport Science looks into the biomechanics of the long drive, and how to add a few extra yards to your drive with very little effort. Here’s the secret.

#4 Golf – The Happy Gilmore golf swing

In the movie Happy Gilmore, Adam Sandler converts his hockey slap shot into a golf swing which he uses for his 400+ yard drives. But would that actually work in real life? 2008 PGA player of the year Padrick Harrington sets out to answer that question.

#3 Cricket – How does hitting in cricket compare with hitting in baseball?

Baseball can be said to have evolved from the game of cricket. But in which sport is hitting more difficult? In baseball it’s about the pitches’s speed and break. However in cricket the ball can bounce, and the players are not protected from being hit by the ball. Diamondback power hitter Mark Reynolds and an National team cricket player battles head to head to find out.

#2 Baseball – Is hitting a baseball the hardest thing to do in sports?

Facing a 95 mile an hour fastball is no joking matter. It goes from the pitcher’s hand to home plate in less than .4 of a second, faster than a human blink. Even the best hitters hit around .300. But is there something even more difficult to hit than a baseball? Jennie Finch attempts to prove there is.

#1 Boxing – The low blow

The most infamous low blow happened in Riddick Bowe vs. Andrew Golota, with Golota being disqualified for repeated low blows. We (guys) all know how much it hurts to get hit in the family jewels, but why does it hurt so much? World class boxer Abner Mares helps us to uncover the mystery.

Bonus Clip:

Wiffle ball

Since it’s not a professional sport, it is included as the bonus clip. Wiffle balls are incredibly difficult to hit, and the biomechanics of the game is very different from that of baseball. So what if the best Wiffle ball pitcher went up against a major league batter (James Loney)? The results are very surprising.

Sport Science is a great show and filled with tons of lessons that the amateur athlete can use to improve his/her game. The next part in the series will feature lessons we can use in our own pursuit of athletic greatness.

The best 10 of Michael Jordan’s lessons for young athletes

October 27, 2009 10 comments

Michael Jordan. Basketball player. Leader. Role model. World champion. Hero.

Many titles have been given to him. Many titles he has earned. But what he is now more than anything else is a business man. His Air Jordan line of basketball shoes are among the most coveted possessions for young basketball players. Typical of how he was during his playing career, he will always be outstanding, even as a businessman.

THE EVOLUTION OF MICHAEL JORDAN

The best aspect of his Air Jordan brand are the messages delivered through its advertising and marketing. He has managed to pull together big time sports stars such as Ray Allen, Carmelo Anthony, Rip Hamilton, Derek Jeter, and Chris Paul to support his brand. However, these sports stars are not just promoting the clothing or the shoes, they are promoting the philosophy behind the clothing, which is the philosophy behind Michael Jordan.

10 amazing Michael Jordan career stats

Each of the commercials has a distinct message, narrated by Jordan himself. He uses nuggets of wisdom learned during his career as positive and motivating messages for the current generation of athletes. We no longer become like Mike simply by buying a pair of shoes, now we must look beyond the superficial, and dig deep within ourselves to discover the inner strength that drove Michael Jordan to the top of the basketball world.

These clips are much more than commercials, they together create a set of ideas we all should live by. Therefore I have compiled them into a list for easy referencing. Please leave any comments or feedback in the comments box, would love to hear back from other MJ fans. And subscribe to this blog to get the latest MJ posts!

Full list of Air Jordans

What if?

What if there was no fame and fortune? What if all the fans and media were gone? What if all Michael Jordan ever became was a regular basketball player. Would he still do what he did? There’s no doubt.

When young children are asked why they want to become sports stars, often they will mention money and fame. What they don’t understand about someone like Michael Jordan is that he was always focused on one thing, becoming a better basketball player. The fame and fortune only followed his successes on the court.

Tell me

Tell me I can’t do it. I want you to. Because then I can prove you wrong.

Despite all the loving fans, the people Michael Jordan listened to the most were his biggest critics. When they said he couldn’t play defense, he won the defensive player of the year. When they said he couldn’t win a championship, he won three in a row. Again and again he shut his critics by proving to them he could do what he wanted to do by putting his heart into it. That is a valuable lesson for any kid to learn.

Heart

Heart is what truly drives you to get to where  you want to go. It’s what gets you through the tough days, and it’s what will bring you to the top.

They say it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. And that is true, especially in sports. Michael has proven time and time again that heart can triumph over physical limitations. He played with the flu, he played when hurt, he even played after his father’s murder. But all those difficulties never changed his passion for competition and his heart for the game.

Let your game speak

Everyone has critics. You can either argue with them, or let your game speak louder than you ever can.

Instead of letting critics tear you down, use them as a force to motivate you to go further.

Maybe

Maybe he made things seem too easy. Maybe his accomplishments are too great to ever surpass. Maybe there will never be anyone better. Or maybe you are just making excuses.

Look me in the eye

Don’t be scared of what you will become, be scared of what you won’t become. Know who you are inside, and don’t let anyone stop you from being who you truly are.

Clocktower

No one gets to the top the easy way. Everyone has to put in the hours and the hard work. Fairy tales only happen in movies.

Break to build

To get to the next level, you have to push your body to the limit. Push until you can’t push no more, and then you will get there.

What is love?

What does it mean to truly love the game? It means not being to live without it, and appreciating every moment of it, even the difficult ones.

Failure

He has failed at every point in his life. Yet those failures never stopped him from trying again and again. It is through his failures that he has succeeded beyond imagination.

Bonus clips

Michael Jordan top ten videos

Frozen moment

This is a beautifully made commercial. Captures the beauty of those truly special moments in sports.

Michael Jordan has taught the world many things. He has taught the world how basketball should be played. He has taught the world how to be a great athlete and a good role model. But most importantly, he has taught us how to become better than we are.

More than mere entertainment, sports and the athletes who play them, offer us great lessons on life, if we choose to receive them.

How Michael Jordan became Michael Jordan

The best inspiring pre game speeches from sports movies

October 20, 2009 Leave a comment

rudy

Movies reflect life, and in turn, life imitates movies. Many of the great sports movies are based on true stories, like Rudy. However, how realistic are these movies? Here is today’s question.

How do the inspiring pre game speeches from sports movies compare with motivational pregame speeches from real life?

Best 10 real life pre game speeches

Today we will watch the best 10 inspiring pre game or game time motivational speeches from our favorite sports movies. As we go through the list, let’s analyze their key moments and study them for what makes them great.

The Program (1993)

Premise: The Program, starring James Caan, Halle Berry, and Omar Epps,  is a fictional story following the lives of coach Winters (Caan)  and the players of the ESU Timberwolves as they deal with the pressures of trying to make a bowl game.

Notable scenes: One is the very heterosexual phlegm swapping scene (@1:50) in the locker room between 2 teammates. Another shows Lattimer, who is obviously suffering from roid rage, smashing a car window with his head while screaming “Place at the table!”

You probably would not see this in real life. Coaches, however excited they may be, generally don’t physically hit their players. But seeing as how this is a movie that thrives on testosterone, it does fit. He spends no time on how the team should play the game, so this speech is better saved for the movies.

Did you know?

A scene in the original movie showed several players lying in the middle of the street with traffic whizzing by. The scene was imitated by several teenagers who were either killed or suffered injuries, resulting in the scene being omitted from all other copies.

Hoosiers (AKA Best Shot, 1986)

Premise: Set in 1951, and starring Gene Hackman, is a true story of a small town (Hickory) Indiana basketball team going on to win the state championships under a controversial coach (Hackman).

Notable: The movie has won numerous awards including several Oscar nominations. It remains one of the most highly rated sports movies of all time.

This speech is a bit short. He talks about focusing on the fundamentals and being the best team they can be. However, he does not spend much time on building the team’s confidence and framing the challenges positively. Without the slow clap at the end, the speech would not accomplish its goals.

Did you know?

Dennis Hopper plays the town drunk in the movie, a role which earned him an Oscar nomination for supporting actor.

Rudy (1993)

Premise: Rudy, based on the actual life events of Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, is among the most popular football movies of all time. The movie is about Rudy overcoming numerous obstacles while chasing his dream of playing football for the famed Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Notable: Here is the speech before the final game of the season, the only game Rudy is allowed to suit up for. He plays in the game and recorded a sack against the opposing QB.

This speech almost sounds like it was directed at Rudy. Since it’s not a bowl game or a important rivalry, the coach did not bother with a motivational speech. But he does mention the “forever” factor.

Did you know?

Rudy featured the first credited appearances by John Faverau and Vince Vaughn.

Friday Night Lights (2004)

Premise: This instant classic follows the 1988 Permian Panthers of Odessa Texas on their path to the state championships. In Texas, where high school football borders on obsession, everyone on the football team faces enormous pressure. After losing the star running back for the season, Permian’s chances of success are in doubt.

Billy Bob Thornton delivers this memorable speech to his team at  halftime against a powerhouse Dallas team.

This speech touches on the coach’s philosophy of “being perfect”. It doesn’t mean being a perfect football player, it is about living up to your responsibilities as a teammate, and as a human being. To live in the moment and to have love in your heart. It is definitely a surprising topic for a halftime speech, but the performance carries it off.

Did you know?

New York Jets cornerback Ty Law makes an appearance in the movie as a rival wide receiver. He catches a one handed touchdown in the movie.

Little Giants (1994)

Premise: Little Giants stars Rick Moranis and Ed O’Neill as opposing coaches of peewee football in the town of Urbania, Ohio. The Cowboys, coached by O’Neill, is the best team in town. The Giants on the other hand, don’t seem to have a chance. The two teams face off to see which team will survive in the “One town, one team” struggle.

The Giants are down by 21 at halftime and retire to the locker room dispirited. This speech changes their attitudes and changes the game.

No matter how old you are, this speech still has the same magic. The message behind it is self belief and not giving up. Even if you lose 99 out of 100 times, there is still a chance for victory if you don’t give up.

Did you know?

Danny O’Shea (Moranis) and Kevin O’Shea (O’Neill) were a pair of brothers who played in the NHL.

Miracle (2004)

The Premise: The backdrop is the cold war. Russians and Americans have nuclear missiles pointed at each other and the entire focus of the world is on the hockey finals of the 1980 Winter Olympics. The Russians have sent their best, and the U.S. has sent a bunch of college kids. It’s like Rocky IV, but on ice. Too bad the Russians don’t look as crazed as Ivan Drago.

Here is a clip of the last minutes of the actual game.

Coach Brooks (Kurt Russell) knows how big the occasion is and how nervous his team must be. He goes into the locker room, and delivers this speech.

The first line is great. “Great moments, are born from great opportunity.” That is the mindset he wants his players to have. They no doubt face a great opponent in the Russians, but what they can accomplish is unimaginable. This is a rather impractical speech before a game, but it sure makes for a great movie moment.

Did you know?

The speech was also given by another great coach, watch this.

Remember the Titans (2000)

Premise: Starring Denzel, this movie focuses on the racial tensions within the Titans, a newly integrated high school football team from Alexandria, Virginia. Coach Boone (Washington) battles the racial prejudices of the community and leads his team to an undefeated season. At one point he leads the players on a run and arrive at a civil war battlefield, where he gives this powerful speech. The speech is the turning point in the movie and helps to unite the previously divided team.

During the big game in the movie, Coach Yates calls upon his defense to step up their play. It’s short, but very effective.

He gets the message across nice and clear. And that last line will get anyone’s adrenaline pumping. He proves that a speech doesn’t have to be long to achieve its goals. The players must have ran onto the field ready to take their opponents’ heads off.

Did you know?

Hayden Panettiere, the cheerleader from Heroes, plays the daughter of coach Yates.

We Are Marshall (2006)

Premise: In 1970, after a plane crash kills nearly all the members of the Marshall University Thundering Herd football team, the team is about to be disbanded. Coach Jack Lengyal (Matthew McConaughey) steps in to rebuild the program and help the university, and the community to recover from the tragedy. The team goes on to win their first home game of the season despite their lack of experience with a score of 15-13 over Xavier university.

This is a great speech about heart, about laying it all on the line and giving it everything you’ve got. It also uses the “forever” factor to give the players an idea of how important an occasion this is. There is also the “Marshall!” chant at the end to give it a high finish.

Did you know?

Miami Dolphins QB Chad Pennington, Patriots WR Randy Moss, and Buccaneers QB Byron Leftwich all played for Marshall university.

Any Given Sunday (1999)

Premise: Any Given Sunday had an incredible cast including Al Pacino, Dennis Quaid, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, LL Cool J, and many others. It is a fictional film about the Miami Sharks, a once prominent team now struggling to make the playoffs. After two quarterbacks are injured in a game, third string QB Willie Beamen (Foxx) must step in and run the show. He makes a number of errors and also vomits in the huddle. However, he quickly learns the game and goes on to become a star QB in the league, leading the team to a playoff win at the end of the movie.

Notable: This is by far the most popular sports movie speech and is delivered by the legendary Al Pacino.

This speech is used in all sorts of motivational videos for all types of sports. It’s a speech that applies not only to sports, but to life, and to the essence of man’s struggle. He lays it all out and trusts that his players will win as a team, and not lose as individuals. In life you have to give it your all and fight for those inches in front of your face, and teamwork means knowing the man standing next to you will do the same with you.

Did you know?

Sean “P. Diddy” Combs was cast as Willie Beamen, but dropped out due to conflicts with his recording schedule. And the world will forever be grateful.

The takeaway:

Movies can seem similar to real life, they can even be based on real life events, but it is still fictional and speeches in movies cannot be expected to work in real life. They are great when paired with the right music, the right director, and a great actor, but those are not things real coaches have or use. There are things we can learn from these speeches, such as the importance of presentation (Miracle, Friday Night Lights) and the use of dramatic locations (Remember the Titans, We are Marshall). But in the end, we are better off learning from actual coaches.

Bonus Clip:

This one didn’t quite qualify as a pre game speech, but it gets in anyway because it’s freakin badass.

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