FanShot

An actually fun "Sports Illustrated" article

7

This is an excerpt from a new book about how athletes become great. It has a killer lead: college softball pitcher Jennie Finch embarrasses MLB hitters like Albert Pujols, who says "I never want to experience that again." The gist is that people who practice things, a lot, develop visual memory banks which allow them to process information much faster than people who haven't practiced as much. Situations which don't conform to their memory banks reduce their advantage, and that's why college girls can hit Jennie Banks but Pujols and Bonds and A-Rod couldn't. The excerpt appears to be saying that conventional wisdom is wrong, genetic ability matters less than brain programming through repetition. If so, Drew Butera could be better than Joe Mauer if he practiced more. This is dumb. I assume the book is more elaborate than that. The lead, however, is huge fun. And there's cool science stuff on how fast baseballs move and how quickly batters have to decide if/where to swing the bat. (Really quickly, as it turns out, which is why Mariano Rivera's late-breaking cutter has bamboozled hitters for 42 years.)

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