Psychology Professor Hass Says Pros Wentz and Embiid Can Improve Through Study: Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Magazine

Philadelphia University assistant professor of psychology Richard Hass said pro athletes Carson Wentz and Joel Embiid can become great players through study and watching games as well as physical practice, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sept. 30.

Wentz, the Eagles quarterback with only three games under his belt, and Embiid, a center for the 76ers who missed two seasons due to an injury, both have spent much time studying videos and observing play, according to the article.

Hass said the athletes’ performances and potential get to the heart of questions that psychological and neurological researchers have long been trying to answer: What is the source of expertise? What is the best way to become great at something? “Learning to outperform your peers consistently has a lot to do with practice,” Hass said. “The debate is, what does practice mean?”

“There are parts of the brain – and the science is emerging on this – that are called mirror neurons,” Hass said, “that seem to be able to track and simulate action. What Wentz may be able to do and Joel may be able to do is sort of imagine themselves in the game while they’re watching it.”

Hass’ comments also were cited in a Philadelphia magazine article published Sept. 30.


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