on basketball and cognitive limits…

I used to love playing basketball. My favorite part of the game was a well executed pass that led to an easy shot for a teammate. I hated the Lakers and Celtics but loved the way Magic Johnson and Larry Bird played the game. The sense of knowing where everyone is on the floor, predicting where the weaknesses of the defense would be in relation to my teammates positioning and movement… it’s like 3d chess played at high speed. It’s more than predicting the future, more like creating the future and watching it unfold. It’s a huge rush when everything’s going well.

My difficulties lie in processing the information quickly enough to be effective. Over the years I noticed that, while I could run 4 on 4 games without a hitch, 5 on 5 introduced an element of uncertainty I could never quite overcome. I felt perfectly comfortable running the show as a point guard in 4 on 4 games and felt as if I knew exactly where everyone was and how everything fit together throughout the run of play. But things I could orchestrate easily with 3 other guys became tremendously difficult with 4. It seems I could never account for the extra two guys (offense + defense) efficiently. In reading about cognition I know that the average number of things most people can keep in short term memory is 6 or 7. I wonder what the limit is for spatial reasoning? How many moving objects can people track reliably before the patterns become too complex? I’d bet that athletes in team sports would be higher than average and that the primary facilitators in each sport (football/qb, basketball/point guard, offensive midfielder/soccer, and playmakers in hockey) would be higher still.

One Response to “on basketball and cognitive limits…”

  1. sapes Says:

    in surfing, theres a lot of spatial reasoning…

    Position on the wave
    Paddling for the wave as its constantly moving And changing
    Angle of your board
    Popping up
    The Drop
    Riding the wave and keeping your board in trim

    and thats on an average size wave of 3-5 feet. When theyre bigger, the above become way more magnified and critical…then you have throw nerve in there on the bigger ones; because if you dont have it, youre gonna get hurt. Thank God I only have to worry about myself and not teammates out there

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