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Can successful athletes really "slow down" time?

Some of the most compelling questions in sport and exercise science focus on the ways in which various aspects of time affect sport performance. Now author Tom Rowland, MD, is giving athletes and coaches a better understanding of and appreciation for the intricacies of human potential in his book, The Athlete's Clock: How Biology and Time Affect Sport Performance (Human Kinetics, 2011).

Rowland takes readers to some startling places to explore such questions. He shows how swimmers competing in the 100-meter distance have been found to perform better at 5pm than at 7am; details how the serve velocity of tennis players is greater at 6pm than at 9am; and examines how NBA teams traveling from the west coast to the east coast of the United States score four points a game more than teams flying in the opposite direction.

Blending physiological, psychological, and philosophical perspectives, The Athlete's Clock reveals how the central nervous system dictates how fast an athlete runs, how the complex sequence of muscle activation and its tempo can be tuned for optimal performance, and how athletes can use their biological clocks to their advantage. Rowland also helps athletes, coaches, and sport enthusiasts investigate fascinating questions such as these:

  • What is going on inside the body to generate the movements that help people achieve their personal bests?
  • Do athletes really “slow down” time during a successful performance?
  • How does an athlete's perception of time influence sport performance?
  • What can people do to slow down Father Time's assault on their athletic bodies?
  • What time of day is the best time to work out?
  • Do endurance athletes consciously control their pacing, or are they under the control of unconscious processes within the central nervous system?

In addition, Rowland addresses one of the most intriguing questions in sports in a conversational interview with athlete development expert, anthropologist, and sport scientist Bob Malina, covering the timely topic of sport identification and talent development. Their engaging discussion looks at how and when talent identification should take place and how talent development for promising young athletes might proceed.

For more information, see The Athlete's Clock.