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The New Science of Elite Performance at Any Age

Book - 2018
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"A lively, thoroughly researched tour of the latest in fitness science and technology, and the strategies of elite and amateur athletes who are performing at peak levels for decades longer than before"-- Provided by publisher
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018
ISBN: 9780544809987
Characteristics: xxv, 260 pages ; 24 cm


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Apr 13, 2018

This book is great on numerous counts.

First, the author demonstrates a genuine interest and kinesthetic understanding of just about any sports. If you are a tennis aficionado, you are in for a treat. He gives many unique insights about Nadal, Federer, Wawrinka, Agassi, and Karlovic. And, the same is true for his coverage of numerous football and basketball stars.

Second, he interviews numerous coaches, kinesiologists, and physicists at the cutting edge of sports science. He introduces many sport science physical recovery and training techniques unknown to the public such as transcranial direct-current stimulation (TDCS) and kaatsu. The former enhances the learning of new physical skills. The latter improves muscle building and strength more efficiently and with less wear on the body.

Third, he explains why old athletes can be so good (at least the great ones). And, it is because of their superior mental game. It has to do about anticipation. Compared to faster younger stars, older stars have a superior sense of where the game is going, where the ball will be. So, they don’t have to run all over the place at random. And, this sense of anticipation will beat out physical speed every time. The ball moves faster than the player.

Another reason where older stars are superior is in their mental control of their emotion. Under stress. they don’t get so anxious. They don’t tighten up and choke under pressure.

Older stars have a broader cognitive archive in their heads of all the scenarios you can think off vs. younger players.

This combined superior sense of anticipation, remaining cool under pressure, and vaster archive of strategies characterize the superiority of living legends such as Tom Brady and Roger Federer.

Fourth, in the epilogue of the book he sums up what you can do at your own level to remain an ageless wonder in whatever sports you are undertaking. He is well aware most of us won’t have ready access to TDCS and kaatsu. So, he comes up with a few practical and free recommendations he learned from talking to all the experts he mentions in the book. And, many of those recommendations are easy to follow.

The chapter on nutrition is both interesting and funny. He advances that a lot of the nutrition protocols the pros favor are conflicting, and not always science-based. In the epilogue he states “If you’re eating a generally healthy diet - lots of veggies and whole grains, not too much sugar or processed stuff - you’re probably fine.” I know with “grains” it is easy to start a mental food fight. That is a subject I have covered in numerous related book reviews.

The last two chapters on recovery and repair are fascinating too. The author covers a bunch of exotic treatments not well known by the public including cryotherapy (exposure to really cold temperature), hyperbaric pods, Accelerated Recovery Performance (ARP), transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator (TENS), parabiosis, stem cells therapy, gene therapy, platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP), and others. However, sleep and resting in bed is one of the best methods. Both Roger Federer and LeBron James apparently make a concerted effort to spend close to 12 hours either sleeping or lying down. Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal has tried just about every other cutting edge therapies (stem cell injections, various types of laser surgeries) to deal with his chronic knee problems.

The author also goes into anti-aging and lifespan extension. And, the domain ranges from the bizarre to the extraordinaire. Among mundane proposals, Metformin (a drug to manage diabetes) and humanin injection are both under investigation for potential lifespan extension. At the far end, you have proponents of “uploading” (your consciousness as a bunch of data points in the cloud as a mean of identity survival).


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