For obvious reasons, we’ll begin our discussion of memory in sports with basketball. First, a play we’ll designate play number 6. Most plays in basketball are called out by number, and it’s a simple matter to associate that play to the basic Peg Word.

The diagram on the following page shows what play number 6 might look like after a coach has explained it: You ignore all the arrows, dashes, and lines in the diagram, you’ll see the basic positioning of a team. C is center; LF and LG are left forward and left guard; RF and RG are right forward and right guard.

How To Improve Memory Examples

Now. A dotted line (……… ) is a pass made with the ball; a solid line ( ……) is the direction in which the player moves; the solid short lines ( …….) are picks or blocks by one of the players.

RG starts with the ball. He passes it to LG who, in turn, passes it to LF. LF then passes the ball to C. If you follow the dotted lines and arrows, you can follow the ball’s progress as it is being passed.

As soon as LF passes the ball to C, he starts to move toward the middle of the court. At the same time, LG starts to move toward the end of the court. Both LF and LG are also moving toward C. Now, LF momentarily stops to pick or block LG’s opponent and then continues to the middle of the court where he picks RF’s opponent as RF moves toward the middle of the court to join LF.

LF then turns and moves toward the basket after he picks for RF. While all this is going on, LG (if he hasn’t gotten the ball from C, for a shot) circles under the basket and back toward the middle of the floor. RG moves away from the action in order to keep his opponent from interfering with the play.

has several options during this play. The first is to pass the ball to LG when LF picks for him. The second option is to pass to RF when LF picks for him. The third is to pass the ball to LF as he moves to the basket after he has picked for RF. Finally, if none of these options is available, C can turn and shoot the ball himself.


In this one basic play, you can see that there are several options for (hopefully) good open shots during its execution. Each player has specific duties to remember:

C—Get to basic position.
Receive ball from LF.
Pass ball to LG, RF, or LF.
If play doesn’t work, shoot.

LF—Receive ball from LG.
Pass ball to C.
Move toward C and pick for LG.
Move toward middle and pick for RF.
Move to basket.

LG—Receive pass from RG.
Pass to LF.
Move off LF’s pick, to the basket.
If no shot develops, circle back under basket to original position.

RF—Move off the pick by LF to center of floor. Look for pass from C and shoot if open. RG—Pass to LG. Move away from play.

It would be a simple task for each player to Link, or associate, his duties to shoe (6). All he need do is make up a few standards to represent the positions. Any words containing the proper letters would do. C could be core (picture an apple core. It begins with c, and also means center); LF could be leaf; RF could be roof; LG could be log; RG could be rug.

The best way to memorize the play described above is to use one picture; no Link is necessary for so short a play. C could picture a shoe moving to a basic position. (He could simply see it moving to his basic position, or he could put base, sick, or both, into the picture.) A leaf throws a ball to the shoe and the shoe looks around at a log, a steeple (roof), and a gigantic leaf, trying to decide which one to throw it to. It can’t decide, so it shoots itself!

Check back to C’s duties for this play, and you’ll see that this silly picture will quickly remind the center of them. When he’s on the floor and a player or coach calls “Six,” he’ll instantly know what he has to do. (Bear in mind that this is all the players need— reminders.)
LF might picture a shoe receiving a ball from a log; the shoe throws the ball at an apple core as he moves toward that core, and picks up a log and a roof; he places a shoe into a basket. (We consider this to be one picture. A Link would work as well: shoe to log to core to pick to log to roof to shoe to basket.)

LG: a shoe catches a ball thrown by a rug and immediately throws it to a leaf; it picks up the leaf as it moves toward a basket in circles.

RF: a shoe moves off a pick held by a leaf; it moves to the middle of the floor; an apple core makes a pass at the shoe; the shoe shoots.

RG: a shoe throws a ball to a log, then moves out of sight.

The player would form associations or Links like these in order to originally remember all the team plays. After a few uses, the pictures will fade as usual; he’ll simply know the plays.

how to improve memory for sports people

In football, the plays are more complicated because there are eleven men on a team. But a play still involves each man’s remembering what he himself is supposed to do during any called play. The exception would be the quarterback, who should pretty much be aware of what each of his teammates is supposed to do, and where they’re supposed to be. To help him originally memorize the play, his Links would be a bit more involved.

The same kind of associations or Links will help any player to be Originally Aware of his duties. This is what a diagram of play number 14, the “dive-option” play, might look like on a coach’s blackboard:

Here are the basic duties of the three key men in this particular play:

QB (quarterback)—Open pivot, ride the FB, read first man outside tackle for hand off, option the end man on the line of scrimmage.

FB (fullback)—Dive over the guard, mesh with the QB. If ball is received, run to daylight; if not, fake through line and block.

TB (tailback)—Take counter step and run option course maintaining 7-yard relationship with QB.

Originally, each player might have formed a Link, starting either with a dive—if the quarterback simply called for “dive option” in the huddle—or with tire, if the play was called by number. A player might simply need to know that play 14 is the dive-option play. In that case, he would originally have associated tire to dive.

QB’s Link could be: A tire (or dive) is opening a ballet dancer’s (Substitute thought for pivot) costume; an empty costume is riding on a gigantic watch fob (FB); a gigantic fob is reading a hand (handoff) that’s throwing fishing tackle outside; the hand is trying to decide (option) who is the last (end) man in a line (of scrimmage).

The FB’s Link: A tire dives over a guardrail, into a mess (mesh) of quarters (QB); it grabs a quarter and runs toward a light—it drops the quarter (doesn’t receive the ball) onto a fake line of blocks.

The TB’s Link: A tire steps on a counter (or someone steps on a counter in order to dive) and runs up a chin (option) to meet his relation, a gigantic cow (7-yard relationship); the cow is giving quarters instead of milk.

In baseball, a batter must remember that the signal for, say, hit and run, is the coach rubbing his elbow. He’d simply picture an elbow hitting someone and running away. Each day, the player has to remember that day’s “key” signal, the signal that means, “If I do this, then the next sign is really to be followed.” If the coach doesn’t use the “key,” the player ignores any other signal. So. The player could simply associate a key to whatever the key signal is for that day. There might also be a “wipeout” signal, a sign that means, “Ignore the signal I just gave you.” Same thing; the player would associate wipe or wipeout to the signal.

One announcer at a trotters track used the systems for years to help him call the races. He needed to know horses’ names, jockeys’ names, horses’ numbers, and colors for every race. He associated all the information to each horse’s number, starting a Link with the number. He used a standard for every color—a bull might represent red, an orange could represent orange, a banana could represent yellow, grass could represent green, a grape could represent purple, and so on. In this way, even colors can be pictured.

We’ve been using examples from the participant’s point of view. But if you’re a sports fan, you can apply the same ideas to whatever information or statistics you want to remember. Babe Ruth’s career home-run record is 714. Picture a gigantic baby playing a guitar at home; or, the home is in the gutter. See a green iceberg that’s maimed, and that picture will help you remember that Hank Greenberg hit 331 homers in his career.

Who was the world’s heavyweight boxing champ in 1936? You’ll remember James Braddock if you associate match (36) to, perhaps, haddock or bad dock. Associate mummy to carnival or car near to remind you that Primo Carnera was the heavyweight champ in 1933. Picture a bear using a lawn mower to tell you that Max Baer was the 1934 champ.

In what year was the famous Dempsey-Firpo right? Associate damp sea and fir pole to name—1923. If you want to remember the exact date, use butter name: 9-14-23.

As you can see, the memory systems can be applied just as easily to sports as to anything else.