Gladwell on Sports
He wonders about how Peyton Manning's studies of game tape help his performance:
What I'd love to do is to put eye-tracking goggles on Peyton Manning. Cognitive psychologists use these a lot: they are special glasses that track exactly what your eyes are focusing on at any given moment -- to an incredible level of detail. When you read the word "moment" in my previous sentence, for instance, did you start at the 't' and work backwards, or zero in on the middle "m" or just look at the first 'm' and then skip to the last 't'? The answer would tell me how you "read" a sentence.
I'd love to know, on this same level of detail, how Manning "reads" a defense. Does he spend a extra fraction of a second on the linebacker, or the safety? When he's playing the Ravens, does he look to Ray Lewis first, or last, or does he do something completely unexpected like not looking at Lewis at all? Are there certain schemes that he takes longer to understand? If so, what are they? And so on. Manning, for instance, probably picks up blitzes better than anyone else in football. Wouldn't you love to know what he's doing, in the face of a blitz, that -- say -- Kyle Boller isn't?
He's also got some insights on how the Eagles may beat the Pats this weekend, but the article is worth reading even if you're not planning to watch the game on Sunday.