« Freakonomics Radio

363. Think Like a Winner

2019-01-16 | 🔗

Great athletes aren’t just great at the physical stuff. They’ve also learned how to handle pressure, overcome fear, and stay focused. Here’s the good news: you don’t have to be an athlete to use what they know. (Ep. 4 of “The Hidden Side of Sports” series.)

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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it cannot be afraid to fail even in Europe Saunders. Nowhere literally talking for I had never been in an environment so emotionally charged the fight started, and I hit her as hard as I could. I would say that was my way becoming american. I wanna leave this boy d known as a bad man. I would say most things that we think are true. Turn out to be true, not always for the reasons I think Toby Moscow, is an economist who teaches at the Yale School of management. That's right, yes, so, You have won a really prestigious academic orders when the top financed scholars in the world. Why do you
es around with sports, it's called tenure. They can't think they can't fire me. No AIDS one of the things I tell my students. All the time is: don't go into this business unless you really love what you research so sports, as always treat me end and to be a little bit more serious. A lot of what I study is however, like an hour makes and how people make decisions when faced with a lot of uncertainty. Sports is just a really Richfield to look at those kinds of things. This is a true fact. It's why see a lot of economists messing around in sports? Twice you a lot of sports deemed academic journals and conferences. sports may not be nearly as important as creation or health care or politics. But when you do research in those areas, it can be really hard to establish cause.
There are so many inputs, so many different types in such hard to measure outputs. Furthermore, the incentives in education and health care and politics are often opaque or worse twisted in sports, incentives are usually transparent, the results are clean and if you like data, as economists do what sports provides boatloads of data, most of which happens to be neatly categorized and extend back for decades. Toby Moskowitz, along with John Wartime, wrote a book taken vantage of these data. It's called score casting in it. They challenge some of the most fundamental beliefs in sports, for instance, does events really wind championships, as NFL pundits like to say a special around this time. Ear short answer: no what's the biggest reason for home filled advantage short answer, involuntary referee bias and
the real story behind when the most compelling elements of sports a hot streak, there's a huge Academic literature on this so, as an example a player in the NBA whose hit a couple of shots in a row. His teammates will start feeding him. The ball. More is cultural, given the Baltimore and he'll start taking worse shots as a result? There's this belief that their hot is this belief supported by the data. Is the player actually hop? If you look, actual evidence. You find either zero or something very close to zero in terms of predictability. It's just a bad strategy. Other Scott whereas we should know challenge this conclusion. They argue that there is some evidence for the hot hand, Harry where does Moskowitz land I'll, summed up in the only way, which is our beliefs in streaks, are much stronger than the data actually supports, but don't we know that confidence is a big contributor,
to be no good performance in any realm and wooden past. Success in sport contribute to greater confidence, which would then contribute to greater future success. That's the theory, but Evidence is that it just doesn't show up, and you can say what it's hard to measure right because take my example of the end. issuer if they're taking were shots, were the defence titans on them? It's not the same experiment. I agree. However, there been experiments run words a perfectly. Can old experiment, and what was really interesting is your right, Stephen, that players who hit a couple shot. An arrow did indeed remark that they felt more confident that their mechanics fell. Good that day they felt good, but the prince. devalue was absolutely zero. I am familiar with that study. I also did a version of of sorted this hot hand
study on my own, that is not another economists, that's the Philadelphia. Seventy six hours J Reddit coups played in the NBA since two thousand six Riddick ranks number six among active players and career three point: shooting person The study he did was First statistics class. It Duke where he played the college. and we're rhetoric is still there all time leading score. I went the German. I do like four five work out where I would shoot like a hundred at either to injure shots, her hundred shots and in I would, I would sort of get the point where I was in a rhythm, felt like a rhythm- and I would sort of note like ok I have a hot hand, and I would record after each
time. I felt like I had him like the result of the neck shot and came to the exact same conclusion that it is a fallacy of course. Measuring the hot hand, idea in practice, or even an experiment is different from what happens during a game with people watching millions of people, if you're an mba player, my mindset and I think, most players- mindsets. If you make Two in a row three in a row, your after all, sort of inclination is to get what we call a heat check in, and a heat check is not necessarily a wild shot, but it's a shot that has a low probability of going in. So you, two three in a row you know now crowds on their feet, the Borg to you, it's fast break, you drivel up two guys regarding you. Sometimes I shoot one on for an unusual.
like it off balance three and it's like one of those exit in basketball culture, its understood like when I just he's he's hot. He sees me two or three in a row he's allowed distorted, taken as I was gonna, there's gotta be an element of like true belief. In yourself, at every shot you take, is gonna go and whether that's good shall I irrational? You just have to believe that you cannot play a professional sport and be hesitant. You cannot play professional sport and be hesitant. You just have to believe whether its rational were not today and for economics. Radio, the latest instalment the serious were calling the hidden side of sports and the first episode we looked at how sports have throughout his
They neared society, which may explain why we care so much. about an industry with dollar wise is actually quite small. Taylor, sports in the United States, is roughly the same size as the cardboard box industry. In episode too Did the economics of a single NFL franchise, San Francisco, forty Niners, who been trying to recover from a debate taking losing streak when you game a lot and always happens when you lose to TAT happens, usually threes like Armageddon dry, nine, The third it was called here's why you are not unduly athlete. We looked at all the thing have to go right for an aspiring athlete from talent. Coaching luck, I mean you can't get her yet be I'll see, you can have the flew on the wrong day. Yet to find the right code the right city and today
episode the mental side of sports. How do athletes prepare for high stakes situations? How did they recover things? Go wrong How do we develop a winning strategy when they know their opponents is thinking? The same thing everybody in the NFL is for that are really tight range physically and what separates great players from average players is upon. The mental peace will hear from a mental skills. Coach a lot of pitchers who pitch no hitters in the bullpen and can't take it with them across the lines will hear from athletes, always a picture my head, I was so afraid and of course, will hear from some of our favorite economists. So it looks like roughly the butter, five million dollars a year mistake I'm fine!
from stature and debonnair productions. This is Reaganomics radio, the casket explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your house Stephen Governor, its natural enough to see the athletes. As Finally to machines like a Bmw are fighter jap per cent there is a usually bigger, faster and stronger than the rest of us. Some of them, like Olympic gymnast, are competing on the global stage. In an age when most people are still struggling with acne, also even in sports that require over the top physical power. Think of a clean and jury. In weightlifting or a brutal scram in rugby there's, a graceful element that to the casual observer can look, nearly
fruitless. All these factors conspire to persuade us that an athletic endeavour is an almost purely physical endeavour is easy to neglect what may be happening in the athletes mind. But if you talk to enough athletes and coaches and others, you discover, that's where a massive share of their energy is going. I think developing a mental game plan is important for consistent successor, consistent performance. That's Bob Tewkesbury I am the metal skills coach for the San Francisco giants. Just get me in a nutshell. Your major league career as a pitcher yourself it's in the major leagues from nineteen. Eighty six to ninety ninety eight with six different teams, one hundred and ten major games lost. Two hundred and two
had to arm surgeries, seven demotions maiden all start team, and can you might expect just about everything Jukes very recently wrote a book called ninety percent mental. He didn't I have such a long May Julie career because he threw the ball so hard. His success was rooted in control and accuracy, Tewkesbury had one of the lowest ratios of walks per nine innings in baseball history, correct correct the people know the strike people what they don't know, the guys don't work people when he retired Tewkesbury got a masters degree from Boston University in sports psychology and counselling. He got his first coaching job with the Boston Red Sox that you They won the world Series for the first time since nineteen, eighty, doing: Tewkesbury is playing career. There was no such thing is a mental skills coach today
es majority baseball teams have them here is one of two various foundational beliefs which he tried to teach to every player. Confidence is a choice. I think a lot of people think it's a feeling, but if you wait for that, feeling that may never come. Confidence is a choice that seems to have enough, maybe even obvious, but its remarkable, how ITALY even and are we actually can get derailed our remit? or a day in and San Francisco or I was pitch and for the cardinals been that the hecklers were in I don't know my mother had army boots under my bed and how they would say all things and any really distracted man in my first thought was while I could always go back to school and become a physical education coach, these also the voice inside your head. He has shown. Johnson is Aforetime Olympic Medalist in gymnastics. Gymnastics is terrifying, Johnson's, twenty six, now she's been retired for years. I am
Terrified of gymnastics like I would never get upon a balancing right now. Try to flip. I would Hermes up. I think, Nobody in the world can be trained physically for an olympic of it. You can train your body to do it. Our training, your mind is the hardest part because learning to overcome you're learning to push aside thoughts that are negative and still take that risk of injury or a failure or of falling your face in front of the entire world is really difficult to do. I was so afraid of losing its carry Walsh Jennings one of the best beach volleyball players in history, pious, three olympic gold medals. But it's a bronze mental third place finish that haunts her from the thousand sixteen Olympics in Rio in I'm really working on letting go of it. To be very honest with you getting bronze in Rio through me for a loop.
it is not necessary. Losing will I've lost plenty of my life in I've had bad matches plenty, but I just I believe the fairy tale, even one I'm having the worse game, I know there's an we appoint where things are gonna shit cause, I'm never gonna give up, and I have a mindset it's coming. It's coming. I got it and I had a terrible match in the summer finals AG just kept I can myself it's coming it's coming in and never came because it never came it because war, Jennings went home with bronze instead of gold she's preparing for another olympic I'm going for my six Olympics and I'm turning forty and I'm playing and sees young kids, and it's so nutty you, but I'm still going through the same process of levelling up aspiring to go higher. Looking the mere do you gotta. Do you want it yes carry on, but since Rio the insecurity are still there, its exhausting the really exhausting
ever since then, like I'm, just letting go of living in fear of that happening again, it's been I see and sad and like nonsensical work has one match, should not define anyone. One bad performance in life, your doctor, in a wife, whatever Ashley issue not define you end, If I allowed it to define Mean- and I'm still work my way through it in on him almost there that feeling, whilst Jennings experience in real desperately waiting for the real you to show up, the u is practised, for thousands of ours in itself. At every level. That feeling does not rare the recently retired baseball player marked sharer, were you ever totally lost at the plate? Absolutely I mean I'd, say which is whether it is a weak or even a month where I said this might be my last week
baseball, I'm so bad right now there is no way, I'm getting another hit in Major League Bay. Bob. I look awful. I feel awful, I can get a hit Worth mentioning that to share it was not a borderline major player. He won all sorts of offensive in defensive awards. He won the world Series with the Yankees four hundred nine career home runs number fifty four on the all time list, but the line between success and failure was always right in front of him hitting a baseball still the hardest thing: the Dunes ports, and you have guys on the mound that are trying to get you out and if you're off a little bit mechanically mentally confidence wise and he is on you can have some bad nights. We were surprised, How often the word fear came up in our interviews with athletes. It's another dimension which we think athletes are so different from us.
Somehow fearless plainly they're not, but they do try to fix it. fearless mentality. You know I got a coach that way. play that way. Obviously you can't live with fear. Doug Petersen is head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. It just compare I urge you and in you you're, not gonna, have success in life. Petersen spends a lot of time, hoping players mute that fear or better crush it. The eagles last year made the Superbowl faced renewing than patriots the Patriots led by coach bill. Bela chicken quarterback Tom Brady had made it. Eight superboss, since two thousand one and they'd one five. So a fairly intimidating team, but in the days leading up to the game Petersen made for his team did not think about that. We didn't focus ourselves on this, It creates an worry about all the all the mistake is again, it's like fear is gonna paralyze you. If there but you're worried about Iraq and be able to play the eagles who
zero superboss were underdogs just before kick off Petersen. Had a quick greeting with the opposing coach in, I had just briefly met coach Villa checking, past, and you know that this is really our first time to spend your minute together in peace Please just congratulate each other on four seasons and in other ways each other, the best for this game. Thank you. So much Thank you very much into its over. You know, but at the same time internally, I was just thinking you know he just no idea. You know what's what come on. I'm not saying they overlooked us, but, but I think that that feeling can can creep in. I was so confident in our guys in our coaches, that I just felt like that that we had no idea
I buy up almost seven. I gotta go: let's go. Let's go. Peterson's fearlessness was made manifest toward the end of the first half the Eagles had a small weed the fourth and goal from about one and a half yards out. The safe play, probably the smart play, was to kick a field go Peters and decide to go for the touch down. This is gonna, be daring to meet the major stage bitters. His argument on the sidelines, quarterback Nick Falls approaches Petersen to suggest your Petersen think about it for a second and then approve I also fully Philly what would come to be known as Billy Special was a trick play the kind of thing you drop in your backyard and and skip
but it turned out all right. How do you figure breathtaking in a super bowl? That's a breathtaking call! You don't make that I would second guess forever. Doug Peterson, today Gonna go down, I think, is one of the greatest Superbowl memories, but now was only half time Petersen at another chance to be fearless in the fourth quarter. Now eagles were trailing. Thirty, two phone, your medfield facing another forced down. I think it only the offence feel doing it there. There was just six minutes or so left in the game, and you know if you remember the Patriots didn't punt, single time in the football game and we were struggling. stop them
and I just knew. There's no way, I'm going to punt this football in and give Tom Brady the ball back, where he can either run the clock out and win the game or or go down and score the answer. I wanted our team to control our destiny in ages. Am I got said this is the right time to do it. I didn't flinch called the next play on down and got it by whereby a yard and the ultimate went down in and support the game super champion Petersen of Course was just the coach you didn't actually have to run the place for the people it do have to perform difficult, visible fee under massive mental pressure
Do you share your fear? Gather your confidence and focus on the task at hand. Is Bob Tewkesbury told us a generally starts here? I think developing a mental game plan is important for consistent success. Ok, so the mental game plan starts when it starts with, the preparation. So you know what time do you get up? What time do you eat lunch with time, Diego the ball park. What are you doing, you're at the ball park and more specifically, as you get caught to the game time. What do you do from a mental perspective in our job? Lester uses a concentration grid. John Lester, whom took spray coached with the Red Sox, has been one of the better pitchers in baseball from it, years. His trailing in his mind to get ready to perform the transition away from my day to getting ready to pitch. I need to make my world
a little bit smaller and that leads into using the imaging programme of being himself perform or doing rate in a pre game rehearsal of the line up that he's going to face imagery bins better when were relaxed so getting, there is through the breathing sizes and then the imagery starts, and so when he goes out to warm up. He can recall those images of what he wants to do with the baseball now it's time for what Tewkesbury says is one of the most important components of the mental game self talk so I like to have affirmations or Montrose, essentially that players can use so that in performance, when things are to go awry. They can help them if they call him anchor statements and those anchors would be see it feel it trust. It smooth uneasy. I get all it takes to beat the carpet one thing at a time,
What you say to yourself how Little man affects performance added stand it change it corrected minimize. It move without them, your performance could get swept away like of abode in the ocean. I do think there is something to that: that's Brandon, Mccarthy, who just retired pitching in the major leagues for thirteen years, once the balls come back from the Lecasser, still kind of doing a quick breakdown of what happened and then it slowing down my breathing getting myself back to just simple focusing on the execution and at times that's been based on having a little module good she's good, anglo quality Pechiney to say that a few times in it, it's there comes a mine and enhance assembly, yeah delivery things, I'm working on the mind, has incredible power, Gigi rhetoric, again I think the mind is big of a separate her for professional athletes, as any physical tools Physical liabilities? Did a player may have here
has been doing some form of self talk for many many years. So this is sort of like ages, eight to twelve. It was a lot of imagination whose lot of playing imaginary games and then years later playing for Duke in the conference championship we were down. I think fifteen points with like ten minutes to go ahead. I just went I actually blacked out and just went crazy in the last ten minutes and have liked three points and we want Daisy championship in in the posting press conference. I said I play that game in my back yard. Hundred times, mental preparation and visualization are particularly important for those pressurized moments when the ball is not yet in place, and it's your job to put it in plain.
Picture tennis or volleyball player not to launch a key, serve Gulf, her standing over a drive on the seventy second hole, the tournament poor and NFL place kicker preparing for a game, kick when you are young, you gonna kick a bunch of football figure, it out, that's right gold of the San Francisco? Forty Niners he's one of the best pickers in NFL history. Last year you miss, like one feel, go to two thirty, four thirty, two or somethin thirty nine forty one, Thirty nine forty one is counting gold, says NFL Kicker spend most of their time, not kicking footballs. can take mentor up still that way. You're not, using your leg, because every take that you take as a kick off your career. So the more they? U visualize, the more that you mentally go through situations and you talk their situations and makes it situations easier that you're not wasting wraps. This preparation doesn't just happened during the work day, but also at home.
I'll get home love five, thirty My family or play of my kids do bad time, reading a book and then put them down once they get to sleep, then I'll, Plum, Ipad, STAR, watching film gone over game plan going over what might happen. do that, we may come not whether its, whether whether its playing a certain place with crime noise, whether its suddenly happen in practice. It is always thinking of ways to make yourself better, on some dimensions, making yourself better as an athlete has never been easier like them The modern world sports are undergoing a revolution in data analytics early, but does this The data analytics is revolutionary. Is a bit strong. I view Moors evolutionary the Yale economists Toby Moskowitz again you're trying to do is make a judgement that judgments based
on intuition it's based on theory as well as it's gotta, be based on data. That's what science is every good science is a combination of both to how much to the athletes partake data evolution, we have heat maps in others, there's two applications that breakdown, where every service coming from how hitter does when she gets served in the middle or short or wide, and we watch a tunnel video. So all that is happening carry Walsh Jennings again. I do not. The well with all of that century input I want to feel it and certainly no they're tendencies, but that's kind of where I want to finish it. I don't, Another rest. So I've gotta, like I ration data to myself. I dont let myself read all of it: the seventy six hours, J J. and again Europe assessing these numbers on a daily This is in the middle of season. I must react like I'm. A bit of a head case united, want to be in the middle of a game going to my left and saying, while the shots like fifteen percentage points worse,
If I was on either side like do you can't do that? Maybe it's just too much to process when you ve got the ball on defence. Meanwhile, look at all of that data for the people that I guard Riddick recalls the defensive aside, and he had a few years ago to play off game. The data revealed that the poor air he'd be guarding, was a great three point shooter, but If you run him off the line and he has to take a pull up, two or a runner. Floater in five December three feet from the basque I can describe shooting like low thirty's low thirty his meaning his make percentage, which is pretty low for two point shot in the NBA. So whenever this guy got the ball in three point range: Riddick statements face for the whole series. I didn't care if he beat me off, the dribble at all. figure shall I twenty seven percent from two for the serious so I like did my job so like that's an example where you use the data available on and it works
the sport that seen the most use of data for the longest time is baseball. That's partly be as some the early data nerds happened to be baseball fans, but also the sport lends itself to analysis every pitch every at that. Every ball put in play is an independent action. It can be independently measured. Even though there are nine players on a team, they dont interact with anything like the complexity of players in football or soccer. dollar hockey one obvious change in baseball facilitated. By is how a manager will shift is defence in response to the opposing batteries. Tendencies towards the end his career mark to sheriff, suffered from this change once team, knew exactly where he was most likely to hit the ball. They would shift their differences. What used to be a ground ball single up the middle was now an easy out on
is the degree to which you think that rise in analytics and the use of the ship was a contributing factor to your decline and how much of it was just the natural cycle of an aging baseball plants gathering is probably Rios. Seventy thirty, just the natural age without analytics are still would be retired. I still my body, you know analytics, doesn't make your wrist blow out analytics, doesn't make you tear up your knee, but I would say that analytics your took number that should have been better and decreased him right. What is What is it you benefited from analytics? Did you? I don't know if you were a tape rat, you watched a lotta taken, I'm curious, whether you studied pictures and so on fur on their tendencies. I didn't benefit unethical. I wasn't a guy the one up there and said: okay to one this guy's, a seventy three percent chance to throw ACT or slider here. Look. I never did that and there's a whole bunch of players. At still, don't look at tat
coming up after the break from athletes who have mixed feelings about data too. economists who can't get enough of an objective at the data. This is incredibly convincing and I think you're absolutely right. and then the general manager said, but I mean what am I supposed to do about it and how do athletes get thereby to do its job when their mind is absolutely melting down you're, trying to run a race except the loss. What your feet also do you have burning question about sports. If so, then. Did along to radio at for economics that come in a couple months, we will be participating in the famous My team Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, which means we will be asking questions best and most innovative minds and sports? So if you send us a quest
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Flash go flash for economics that square. Dot com slash, go: slash, freak o lummix talking about the mental side of sports so far, mostly from an internal respect. Using your mind, to drive your bodies performance, but there's a whole other external perspective to consider out thinking your opponent, and this gets us into what economists call game theory. So game theory is a part of economics which is excellent. Different than most of the rest of economics, because most of economics focuses on either cases where
There are many many many people interacting in that's what we call perfect competition or where does exactly one person like monopolised interacting with many people? That's my free economics friend and Co. Author, Steve Levin. He teaches economics at the University of Chicago, but game theory is economic supplied to the interactions of two or three or four or five individuals or firms. Her actors and so game theory turns out, has very different predictions and kinds predictions in the rest of economics Levitt. Would you consider yourself, a sports economist, absolutely not I've written papers about sports, but I've only written about sports as
vehicle to understand, bigger economic concepts in sports, happened to be a place where this often really good data and really well defined and simple incentives in place so that you can match data to incentives to try to answer questions at economists. One answer more general questions about for instance, in one paper lever, analyzed Sumo wrestling data and found what he believed was widespread match fixing. So it really looks like a quid pro quo like there's a deal worked out. where, if you let me win when I really needed the net time we meet, I'm gonna throw the match and let you win in another paper. Levitt found evidence of Rachel Yes, in the tv game, show the weakest link, not quite a sport. I know Other economists later did similar research and found racial bias among NBA referees and major league umpires. Let it is also studied the detail
in game decision making in professional sports in a paper, he Cora with, can Cove ash a one time, universes Chica research assistant. Now Cleveland, Browns, executive, live it looked at how good NFL offices are at can using or deceiving the defence looked at whether teams are making the right choices between running plays an passing place, and our conclusion is that we see that on average team is seem to make mistake. The mistake is essentially being too predictable. They seem to not thrown off passes relative to running place. and animal teams in particular, have lots of zero correlation cereal correlation, meaning the previous play is too predictive of the next play.
Ideally, you want the play calling to appear nearly random to maximize the element of surprise. It turns out the play that you just ran seems to have a very large influence. The next choice and interesting. Interestingly, and it almost embarrassingly funny to an economist, is at its exactly when that play did badly. So if you do a running play and it didn't do well. You are much less likely to call running play the next time be cut of Vienna, some belief that well, if it didn't work last time at second work, this time there are, of course, other factors to consider. If a run play fails, you ve got more yardage to make up, which might argue in favour of a past play, but in the final analysis, Levitt and CO bash found the teams relieving points on the table. We think the stakes are really high, that the magnitude of the mistakes that they made are associated with scurrying like an extra point, a game within the sound like much but extra point. A game would turn into a bowed half of a war
precision it's worth about five million dollars a year, so it looks like roughly to us about a fire million dollars a year. Mistake and by our estimates, ricotta think early in their national football league? The number of past plays, is about fifty eight percent. Fifty seven percent will reward this paper and our belief is the optimal looks like it's much more like seventy four, that they really should be dramatically more passes in the NFL Levin calabash also look a game, theory question in baseball, how well do pitchers randomize their pitches. The best way to fool a hitter is to throw a fastball in there expecting a curveball and a slider or curb our spider when they're expecting a basketball game inaction. So how well do major league pitchers do at defying expectations. It turns out across all major league pictures on average, there's a enormous overabundance
fast balls being thrown, and by that I mean when pitches through a fast buzz controlling for the situation, could run for everything a manageable. It turns out that on average pitchers are doing worst. When they throw fast balls, they would throw her balls or sliders, and that suggested that pictures are not doing what game theory as which is belting off the three different kinds of pitches. I agree. One hundred percent that again is former baseball star mark two sharer we'd asked him about: let's research, showing the pictures or too reliant on fast balls, but It's not so simple as merely randomized, he said. Imagine you're the pitcher. You got to stop sound the batter and may be also a runner on third
issue is. Is you have to take the pitchers skill and ability to perform that skill with two strikes, so the pictures that can throw curve, balls and change ups and sliders with two strikes? Do it they guys mate may be bounced that pitch or hang that pitch are gonna, throw fast balls and so they're gonna get hit so the best pitchers in baseball they throw more sliders and curve balls and change us with two strikes, because they can control it better in their study, Lever and Kovacs actually did factor in pitcher quality, but even when controlling for pitcher quality, they found too many fast balls. That was good news for Hitter Lake to sharer. I feast didn't mind type Career was based on not getting me to chase the curve balls and the sliders in the dirt and haven't come with a fast ballroom overplayed
was the style of hit, or that I was knowing about this. Fastball surplus would be especially useful if you are so the general manager of a baseball team, Steve Levin, again Bruno it's funny, you shall we did get some time with the general manager of a major league club that I I will not name to protect the identity of the innocent, the executive looked at the data and said this is incredibly convincing and I think you're a be right and then the general manager said, but I mean what am I supposed to do about it and I said: throw fewer fast boss. And the guy said how in the world am I supposed to get my team to throw fewer fast boss, and I said, will you the general manager what you tell them, throw you profess above his head? I can do that. I said. Ok, I had kind of anticipated that, and so I said,
Here's my other suggestion. There are eight catchers available on the free agent Orkut I've calculated over the last three seasons. What share of fast balls have been thrown when each of these eight catches have been behind the plate, and there is a big difference in these two catchers have actually called games with something like four or five percent: fewer, fast balls per game and my suggestions, you go pick up those catches on the creation mark, while they didn't do that either and instead they stuck with their current
better, who called the high sheriff fast buzz of any catcher in the leak? This disconnects between the data and behaviour suggests a few things. The first is that decision making in sports, while trending toward the scientific issue is often still not that scientific. It also suggests just how strong habit and our belief in intuition, maybe more than anything it suggested in the heat of competition. The mental state of a given athlete can be fragile. Brenda Mccarthy told us there were times when a particular pitch in his arsenal. Just became unavailable readily. You just couldn't imagine drawing that pitch where he wanted Mccarthy's case. Mrs fastball, the problem,
darted when used pitching LOS Angeles Dodgers and followed him often on to the Atlanta braves them in your brain. Just I couldn't I would lay down it close your eyes and try picture throwing that, and it was truly felt like a brain but until the wheel- and you just couldn't- you can picture, I couldn't them How hard I dreamt, I could imagine doing it just when haywire so you'd when it would have then a game. You would try and throw everything else to make something workin keep going as long as you but you're very aware that you're here now trying to run a race except you, ve lost when your feet. Was convinced early autos, a mechanical thing, but feels like it's something: physical that eventually be mental and then you just can't see otherwise, so really. I don't know. I just know I'm fortune that had happened late enough in my career, that I could get busted or least work around it. It's the thing that I find most most of the best athletes in the world or are the ones who can control something in their mind, just a little bit better than anybody else can they can be physically gift
able to do certain things at others camp, and I think that last bidders how much better they are mentally. In some capacity that we haven't figured out, I asked Mccarthy how much of that no advantage lies in the ability to self diagnosed. In the moment, it's endlessly large component, not just the ability, I knows, but the ability to fix instantly not just so I'm not doing this one day. This is what I have to work on the form, an export its. How do I fix us for the next budget? watching Clayton crush on a life for the last four years. Clayton Persia Mccarthy's teammate during that time is one of them most dominant pictures in baseball. One thing that Mccarthy particularly admired about Croatia is how quickly he fixed or something where most everybody else kind of spirals and it turns into an ok, outing or poor outing. turns, and no it just a less great outing, because he fixes the little thing that's going wrong and then if it still not great it's much better and then by the next art. He fixes it again in it. That's d, the die,
noticing and the ability to fix immediately that the brain and physical, Building to do that is is very rare. Did you his brain when he was a team of yours as as you can, but one noticed when you talk to players who are really really great. their historically great is a lot of them can explain the things that they do at twilight of a make for bad coaches. I've had Madison different camps with me before and had he thought you Jane opponents and I gripped like this, and I throw it knew well. Thank you, that's not he doesn't have any help to me, but in his mind it makes complete sense. Bob Tewkesbury, the former pitcher and now mental skills coach argues that the ability to self diagnosis correct in the moment is among and athletes most important tools. I think that's the ability to have consistent performance. and what I mean by that is
I always going to go out and perform well every game and that's what happens to athletes. Is there get to that situation, and they don't know how to manage himself out of it. There is a lot of great five o clock, hitters guys it hit the ball very far during bad practice, but can't hidden a game and there's a lot, a pitcher who pitch no hitters in the bull pen and can't take it with them across the lines Tewkesbury to explain how a pitcher like him in the heat of competition could get himself back in sync if his mechanics stirred to go haywire so Mama care. If you step backward, your foot, Eurotas you're right, foot adjacent to the pitching rubber, your hips turn clockwise toward third base. You lift up you're you're left leg as you do that Samuel too
Muesli, your your hands are together at about the ways to waste to the shoulder height. Then your hands, as your body starts, to go forward to Adam on your hand, separate with the ball coming out of your glove. Your body continues to glide toward home plate. Your left shoulder should be in line with your target as your arm takes its arc and path and gets into a position to throw now. Your body is square to home plate, left leg is hit the ground your left knee is bent and the arm continues its its arc and new throw the pit. to your intended targets. So there is a feeling that happens with that when that is all and sank, you know that the Balkans located at your intent, spot in what? If the ball, doesn't your intended spot so
I throw that pitch and I bounce it in front of home plate. That tells me that I got out, and my body was too far in front of my release point so that Daily plays the ball would go, would be down Conversely, of my body was lagging or of my arm was lagging, the ball would be high, and so once you know how your body responds you're able to make their correction simple right in remember: you're, not just throwing the ball into space. throwing to a supremely tuned and muscled opponent, gripping along piece of hardwood preparing to hit the ball as hard as we can right back in your direction, just sixty feet, six inches away, so what Do in that moment, if your mechanics or if your confidence abandons you if the only thought in your minds that your next pitch is about to be crushed, what
do as you delete the thought. I'm gonna just change the channel in oh, it's like I'm watching this bad channel, I'm gonna change at the Caspian, delete the thought take up and then refrain that thought or use an anchor statement. Sum of Turks berries, anchor statements, as you will recall, see it feel it trust it smooth and easy one pitch at a time and if that doesn't work, here's what Tewkesbury suggest taking a tongue depressing time out I tell pictures to tape to tongue depresses together, put in your back pocket and when things It tough on the mound collar time out back behind the mound, clean your spikes or make pretend you clean your spikes that now's you more time to take your breath to refocus that's a lot. better than going around the mound walking around the mound. Rubbing up the baseball, because your behavior Is this really adding two year? Frustration?
you're, not doing anything. The slow down in slowing down your mind is almost always a good thing when he coaches athletes Tewkesbury uses a simple forced step mantra to get their mind right, step, one slow down step to breathe seriously under pressure. It's easy to forget to breathe breathing is important and it help slow down step, three engage in some positive self talk. I got this step for focus on the task at hand there. Are you ve got it Bob to experience recipe for success in athletic competition under pressure? It just one problem for every athlete trying to harness their own mental fortitude. There's an
one in China mess with trying to invade their mental space, trying to plant the seed of doubt or confusion, beer. That is the premise behind when the most entertaining mental battles in sport, a practice in american football known as facing the kicker he's just a few seconds on the clock, one team trails by a single point and they are lining up for game winning feel go. The kicker goes through his mental preparation. He breathes, maybe invokes the mantra. He focuses on the task at hand, then just as the ball snapped. The other team is called a time out. This is how you ice the kicker. The opposing coach wants to freeze the kicker out of his routine ones. Some think a bit more about the enormity of the circumstance icing the kicker has become, standard move in these situations and occasion.
it yields results in the Eagles bears play off game a couple weeks ago. The bears kicker was iced and he missed the kick. But overall statistically is icing. The kicker effective it certainly the regional wisdom. That again, is the sports, loving Yale economists, Toby Moskowitz, who comes this phenomenon in his book score. Casting it something every face. believes and affect every fit expects a coach to do, but it turns out. There is no effect from this and, if you think about it, logically, it makes sense. These are pickers if you make it to this level in the professional football league, they ve kick the ball. Thousands upon thousands of times in many pressure situations there selected on that dimension, as well as one professional kicker said to us when we are ready the book, you have something like
a bothers. You probably shouldn't be kicking in this leak that professional kicker, it turns out, was none other than Robbie Gold, whom we heard from earlier. It is always thinking of ways to make yourself better. Gold prides himself on mental toughness and mental preparation This includes practicing alone and with his team for any game. Time possibility, including being the kicker whose nice will largely line up the field. All snap hold, but won't kick it so you go through entire routine weathered petticoats cod about the issue: whether it's in there is That's that is wrong. Choices that come up that we have to be aware of part of that awareness is the particularly intense pressure of the position gold. Please, let's say you kick the game. Winning field go you're the hero, and, if you miss it, I don't get it
chance to get that plate back right after wait for the next week to get some players like wide receivers tvs they have. Seventy plays a game, so if they screw up, then go right back to it was a kicker. You have to make them count, be that's the point totals and the National Football League Earth staggering to appoint a how many close games are goal just finished his fourteenth and a fellow season, and second, with the forty Niners point put eleven with the Chicago bears a put one with the giants. The bears remember were eliminated from the play of this year when their kicker was iced and missed the game. Winning field go gold. Meanwhile had another excellent season this year for the forty Niners, he made thirty three field goals and missed just one that we did miss two extra point attempts his team meanwhile, was mostly dreadful season, marked by injuries and losses. So
what happens to gold next year. You never know how many need can be here. One day had gone and acts familiar. I cut in Chicago on Labour, we again after making a team and then the next day at just how did this The couple must govern precision, but I mean it was just a lot of different thing. Sorry tat is it. I had a big chap number that you're right. What's the most, you ever engineer polish four million five, as this is a This is not a college football scholarship, Just isn't it doesn't matter what round your pic and it doesn't matter how much making? How old yarn away? How spears jar change every day you have to earn your keep of all the mine games. Professional athletes must master. This is perhaps the most difficult How to sustain your career. Once you ve reached the elite level.
Once you realize is good, as you may be there people nearly as good, maybe even better can't wait to take your place. The life of a professional athletes is relatively short if you're enough to be paid. Well, you have a relatively small window of time to take advantage and the people who pay or salary baby. very happy, pay someone else, less soap coming up next time and economics, radio we get into perhaps the toughest competition in all, sports. The reality is they are management and we are labour will start with the management side, we're here from team owners and league officials from the big teams, It's like major League baseball right now, one of the Commissioners main objectives is to spread the game globally, as well as new comers like the U Fc. Three hundred million dollars per year over five years. One point: five billion total.
we're here, the dreams of expansion. Are you talking about hundred thirty million households in this country. You know there's billions of households, not in this country there treatment over legalised gambling yeah. I think it is Tor franchise, valuations doubling, will hear what they hear about their own sport the ends of envy again as one of my bugaboo. I just can't stand the fowls and time out what they think is the sport of future taking sports and will here where the money goes there, making a lot of revenues, but not much of that is going into the athletes, but next time on for economics, radio, we will also periodically release some of the full interviews from the series, including soon mark to share and doubtless mavericks owner Mark Cuban, so keep your ear out for those economics. Radio is produced by stature and
productions. This episode was produced by Alvin Meloth, Anders Kyoto in Derek John, with help from met, Strap and Harry Huggins. Our staff also includes Allison Craig Low Gregg Ribbon Zactly Pesky, our theme song is, MR fortune by the hitchhikers. All the other music was composed by Luis Gara. You can subscribe to. economics, radio and apple podcast, or every get your podcast. The entire archive is available on the stitched up or at for economics. Dot com where we also publish transcripts and show notes and much more. We can be and on Twitter, Facebook and linked in or via email at radio at economics that come from radio. Also, please, I'm most you're, better NPR stations check your local station for details, as always. Thank you for listening teacher.
Transcript generated on 2021-03-10.