"High Strung"


by Zoe Pollock

In time for the U.S. Open, Tom Perotta reports in the new Atlantic issue on the professional athlete's psychological choke:

To hit a 120-mph serve, a player must allow the body to do what it has been trained to do. Thinking mid-serve causes “paralysis by analysis,” an attack on performance by the prefrontal cortex, which, in an attempt to control closely synchronized neural activities and muscle twitches, instead sabotages them. “We all know how to shuffle down the stairs,” [Psychologist Sian] Beilock told me. “But if I ask you to think about how your knee is bending while you do it, there’s a good chance you’ll fall on your face.”

Meanwhile Reeves Wiedeman has a roundup of tennis' trickiest shots, including a great shot from this week's open, a backwards and through-the-legs point by Federer.

(Photo by Harold Edgerton)