If you're a NCAA basketball player wanting to improve your free throw percentage, don't play against Arizona State at their home arena. The crowd in the background is so distracting...you are going to miss! (read it here) Student shenanigan's in the background are making visiting team foul shooters miss 10% more of thier free throws.
I dedicated an entire chapter, Chapter 7 Visual Noise, to this fact. Actually, for those who haven't read my book yet, here is exactly what I wrote:
"Imagine you are a college basketball player. You are playing against your team’s biggest rival in their gym, which is filled with 15,000 screaming fans. It’s the championship game. The game is tied. There is a tenth of a second left to go in the game. You get fouled. You miss the first shot of a two-shot foul, so you only have one shot left. The other team calls a time out which has just now ended. You step up to the foul line where the referee hands you the ball. The crowd is screaming. You bounce the ball and look to find the rim 15 feet away. The backboard is made of a transparent material so you see the hundreds of fans around it and behind it rooting against you, jumping up and down and waving their big orange noodles. The backboard and rim appear to be floating and engulfed in this sea of bouncing humanity and orange noodles. You focus on the front of the rim and try to ignore the motion of all the waving stuff behind it.
Sounds pretty intense, huh?
Your brain is being bombarded by input from your eyes. The fans and their orange noodles are visual noise. You are accustomed to practicing in a gym, with no fans or movement in the background. The backboard and rim are easily visible. You have no problems concentrating on the rim in that atmosphere. Your brain is on cruise control there. Things change when your eyes start sending the brain input from things that you are not used to seeing. You have to learn to filter out those distractions.
Visual noise can affect the way that athletes perform, but not many athletes realize that the best way combat it is to prepare for its presence. We know it exists. We know there are forces out there trying to break our concentration, that creep into our heads and make us fall short in our athletic endeavors. The crowd screams loud. Whistles blow. Opposing players talk smack as well as their fans, and things are going on all around us that, if allowed to enter the thought process in a negative way, can distract the athlete."
See To Play; The Eyes of Elite Athletes has enjoyed much success since it was published almost 3 years ago. Ahead of it's time? For the readers of See To Play, the success of the Arizona State students' distractions to opponent's free throw success is old news....but it's great to get more outside data concurring with us!
You have to See To Play.....and.....learn to filter out visual noise!
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