Bestselling author talks the science of sports - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Bestselling author talks the science of sports

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YAKIMA, WA - It was a full house at the Capitol Theatre for the final speaker in this season's Yakima Town Hall speaker series. Reporter Veronica Padilla was there to get the chance to talk to David Epstein, best-selling author of the book "The Sports Gene".

But Epstein isn't just about sports; he focuses on the science of sports. Specifically, the genetics of athletes. 

His talk today focused on the great nature versus nurture debate. Are pro athletes genetically superior or have they just trained long and hard enough to become the best in the world? Epstein says a lot of the things that he guessed on using intuition turned out to be wrong.

"You know, I thought Major League Baseball players, because they would be tested for reaction speed, had faster reaction times than normal people," Epstein said. "That turns out not to be the case at all. Our biology is woefully incapable of hitting major league fastballs. We can't even track an object that close to us as its angular position changes. Our eyes can't track that fast. So I always tell people the advice they give their kids, to 'keep their eyes on the ball' is actually literally impossible."

So how is it possible to hit fastballs? Epstein says that players who make it to the big leagues have been able to pick up on cues on the body of the pitcher and form them into a signal to see what's coming before it happens. That's the science behind sports, and it's fascinating stuff.