cover image Play On: The New Science of Elite Performance at Any Age

Play On: The New Science of Elite Performance at Any Age

Jeff Bercovici. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-0-544-80998-7

Thanks to today’s cutting-edge training, professional athletes can continue to improve with age, argues Bercovici in this energetic romp through sports gerontology. The San Francisco bureau chief for Inc. surveys trends in sports medicine and training techniques that are letting NFL quarterbacks like Tom Brady, as well as NHL and NBA stars, soccer and tennis players, runners and even gymnasts persist at championship caliber into their late 30s and even 40s. He spotlights intriguing developments: more restful training programs tailored to individual genetic profiles; pressure bands that build muscle without weight lifting by restricting blood flow; kinesthesiology, the study that teaches players to avoid injury by moving more gracefully; healing by immersions in infrared waves or by drinking red wine; new surgical methods that let athletes get joints rebuilt “like the rest of us get our teeth cleaned.” Bercovici smartly separates science from quackery—avoiding GMO foods won’t help, he argues, but taking creatine will—while offering colorful reportage on sports trainers, physiologists, and gurus, and using his own achy frame to road test their wares, from -286 °F cryotherapy chamber to an exercise/torture device called the Versaclimber. There are no miracles here (except, maybe, transfusing blood from a younger person to an older one), but Bercovici offers stimulating information and practical insights to health-minded readers. (May)