The Science of Freestyle Football #2 — The Brain Game
If you have been following me on this space you will know that I am a crazy guy who is trying to find logic in something that no one really wants to know.
But well! Not enough to stop me. I still go into the uncharted waters to hunt the great white shark! A great white shark no one is interested in.
So first of all I would recommend you guys to read the first part of this editorial series. You can find it here. Just open it in a new windows and you can go back to it later too.
The last part of the series was related with muscle memory and how it is related to freestyle football.
In this part I want to talk about the neurological functions going on in the brain and how it helps us retain what we learn in freestyle football with several years of practice.
The brain is a very complicated thing (as if you did not know that). But it can be studied using simpler concepts which allow us to differentiate between various regions of the brain and its functions.
One such way of study suggests that the brain consists of two kinds of neural tissues—
- the gray matter
- the white matter
The gray matter part of the brain processes information in the brain, directing signals and sensory stimuli to nerve cells. In simpler words, the movement or touch recognized by the sensory nerves of the body while learning a trick gets processed by this part of the brain. The muscle fibers pass on the sensation to the brain which then further recognizes and stores in its memory.
The white matter is mostly made up of fatty tissue and nerve fibers.
For our body to perform that specified move information needs to travel from the brain’s gray matter down the spinal chord and then through a chain of nerve fibers called axons, to our muscles.
This was how our brain stacks up and how it helps us perform functions ranging from basic motion to complex varieties.
But the question still remains, what happens when we repeat those tricks over and over again? How does the brain process it ?
Here’s the solution —
The axons that are present in the white matter have an outer layer of a fatty substance called myelin. And it is this outer layering or sheath that seems to change(increase) with repeated motion of any trick.
The myelin sheath is similar to an electrical insulation around electrical cables. It prevents the loss of information in form of electrical signals from the cables. So the better the insulation around the axons is, the more the amount of information(electrical signal) is retained by the brain.
The better the insulation gets with practice, the better the pathway for information becomes inside these axons. Studies show that this is the reason for athletes getting better muscles and having a better game procedure through regular training.
Remember the term ‘muscle memory’ ? Well here is how it actually works. No memories in the muscles. Just the brain doing its thing.
Various theories have been suggested that attempt to realize the number of days, weeks or even years required to master any trick. Read about them here.
Well, I don’t think that any of those theories necessarily apply to the field of freestyle football. Although one such theory would be really helpful, I don’t think it is possible as of now. Dozens of factors play a role for learning a new trick and hence trying to bring that down to a simple formula is something that even the freestyle football community might not be ready for.
Let’s end it here for right now.
Thank you if you read it till the end. I know reading this stuff may seem boring and tiresome to some of the people there. But I assure you, that if you follow this series faithfully, you will be getting some tips that will definitely help you unlock your potential as a football freestyler.
Click that heart to GO GREEN.
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