Head Games: How Visual Illusions Improve Sports Performance

TIME:

It’s that time of year again. March Madness is around the corner and athletes — and inspired fans — are aiming to improve their performance on the court. It turns out, the secret to game-time success may lie in players’ imaginations.

A new study finds that athletes are more likely to score when they think their target — be it a basket or golf hole — is larger than it really is.

Researchers from Purdue University studied 36 college students putting into a golf hole up a ramp. Using a projector, the researchers created an optical illusion that showed a ring of circles around the golf hole which altered its perceived size. In the first trial, they projected a ring of 11 small circles that made the golf hole look larger in comparison. In the second trial, they projected five large circles that made the hole look smaller. Each student putted 10 times in each trial.

Read the whole story: TIME

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