Listen up, chump: Talking trash on the court, in your office, or over your video game headset can boost your self-confidence and ability, shows new research from Florida State University.

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Researchers somehow tracked down 40 college-age guys willing to play Madden NFL for course credit. When allowed to trash talk, the players' confidence in their own ability increased by 46 percent, the study found. Their video game scores also tended to improve, according to the research.

Self-assurance and positive emotion are essential to performance, and talking trash appears to provide a big shot of both, explains study coauthor Gershon Tenenbaum, Ph.D., of Florida State. While the effect on self-confidence and good vibes was clear, exactly how much your performance may improve is a tough thing to quantify, Tenenbaum adds. His experiment involved 1-on-1 play between players of varying skill levels, and so there was no way to accurately gauge ability improvements, the researchers say.

The study looked only at video games, but Tenenbaum says his research can be applied to other competitive situations. Whether you're playing pickup basketball with your buddies or trying to edge out your coworker for account executive of the month, a few well-timed "yo mama" jokes should juice your confidence and chances for success, Tenenbaum suggests.

What constitutes trash talk? Any verbal barb that builds up personal motivation or enjoyment while distracting or intimidating your opponent, according to the study. And no, you don't have to get nasty or offensive. Just shouting out the score or gently poking fun at your pal’s weaknesses is enough to pump yourself up, the study shows.

(Keep your mind in tip-top shape with these 27 Ways to Power Up Your Brain.)

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ThePostGame caught up with Olympic swimmer turned reality show star Ryan Lochte at the Kickball Spectacle Kick-Off for the American Honey Bar-sity Athletics Social Sports Program.

ThePostGame: So you're here to play kickball today. Are you any good at it? How did you prepare for the big game?
RYAN LOCHTE: I don't know if I'm a good kickball player, I know I'm a good athlete. I've been known to kick the ball around when I was younger, but this is totally a different atmosphere. But you know what, we're coming out here today to represent ... and we're going to have a good time.

TPG: For the Olympics, I read that you did crazy workouts to get ready for the Games including pushing tires and stuff like that. Are you still doing those? Or have you changed anything?
LOCHTE: I'm still doing that.

TPG: Is there anything you've added to your special sauce of training?
LOCHTE: I haven’t added anything, I’m still doing everything I used to do – I’m just doing it differently now. I’m getting older, my body can’t handle all the stuff I used to do, but I’m still training the exact same -- I'm still pushing my body to limits that I’ve never even known before, so it’s good.

TPG: What are you doing differently?
LOCHTE: I'm doing a lot more cardio workouts like whether it's biking, running, I'm doing a lot more of that, so that's a lot different than stuff I've done in the past.

TPG: How do you balance all of that with all of the partying and the show?
LOCHTE: No matter what I'm doing, I'm training. I'm training every day and I think that's something I won't lose -- no matter what I do, no matter what event I’m at, I always find a way to train. It's just something that I love to do.

TPG: Someone else in the swimming community mentioned on Twitter that they wished your reality show showed more of you doing all the charity work you do instead of just partying. Do you wish the show showed more of that or will we see any more of things like that?
LOCHTE: You will, I mean that was just the first episode. The first episode is just getting everyone around me introduced to the show. So the next episode you might see me do something for my charity, hang out with my family, be a more loving, not just a party guy.

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There's something funny about your first skydive. After signing away your legal rights and watching a long-bearded fellow on a scratchy VHS tape explain the extreme sport's extreme dangers, you will almost certainly be told that if you remember only one thing from your training, it should be the lesson on contorting your body when "exiting" the aircraft. Arch your back and bend your knees behind you at a 45-degree angle, they will say, so that your head and heels point heavenward. Beyond elementary physics, taking this form -- as opposed to the fetal position -- forces you to look up, not down, as you free fall into nothing. And with your eyes on the horizon avoiding the ground two or three miles below, it's easier to believe, of course, that you'll be free fallin' into something. A smooth landing for instance.

More from Men's Journal: Falling at the Speed of Sound

Let's face it: The perception of skydiving generally isn't a positive one, and how could it be? When we say "exiting," we really mean "jumping ... out of an airborne plane." The data, however, says you're slightly more likely to expire while at a dance party. More specifically: The United States Parachuting Association recorded just 19 fatalities among 3.1 million domestic jumps last year. There were about 50 worldwide. And tandem skydiving, in which the novice with five or fewer jumps under his parachute-suit belt has a USPA-certified diver strapped to his back, is even safer than going solo. That's the experience we had anyway on a recent Saturday at SkyDance SkyDiving in northern California outpost Davis and its appropriately named Yolo County Airport. The side affect of sound technique not only made overcoming this inherent if irrational fear far easier, it also allowed us to enjoy our descent to earth.

More from Men's Journal: Easy Heli-Skiing in Alaska

At SkyDance, as at most of the country's other 200-something drop zones, first-timers can choose a climb to 9,000, 13,000, or 18,000 feet. At or above middle height, the novice has the option of opening his own canopy when the time is right, typically between 3,000 and 5,000 feet and after reaching terminal speed, as high as 120 mph. It's easier to appreciate the views, such as nearby San Pablo Bay, from these heights while slowly parachuting for five to seven minutes, not during your free fall (which lasts between 30 and 90 seconds and feels not unlike sticking your head out of an open car window on the freeway). Giving you some semblance of control, you'll always know how far off the ground you are, thanks to a standard wristwatch altimeter.

More from Men's Journal: CliffNotes for Cliff Divers

If your next dive is your first dive, however, the 15-minute ride in something like SkyDance's shaky but sturdy Blackhawk XP42A Cessna Grand Caravan will only increase your anxiousness. By this time, you're already strapped to the person you trust most in this world, sitting on his lap until it's time to "exit." Then comes the other funny part of proper body positioning: If, while standing on the edge of the plane, your head is cocked up and your weight rests on your toes, your tandem partner will literally have to push you out the window.

More Information: Find a skydiving school anywhere in the world at If you're in the Davis area, try SkyDance SkyDiving, which starts basic tandem jumps at $150 (9,000 feet with 30 seconds of free fall) and tops off at $379 (18,000 feet with 90 seconds of free fall).

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Going for a run? Pay extra-close attention at crosswalks. Pedestrians are significantly more likely to get hit by a car when it's turning left, according to research from Oregon State University.

In a full-scale driving simulation, researchers monitored participants' eye movements and found that roughly 10 percent of the drivers failed to look left to see if a runner or walker was in the intersection before making their move.

The main issue: At intersections with permitted left turns (without the green arrow), drivers are more focused on oncoming traffic. Meanwhile, most pedestrians carry on assuming they have the right of way, the researchers note.

(Be safer behind the wheel and avoid these 5 Stupid Driving Distractions.)

So what can you do to avoid disaster? Disconnect. Recent research published in the journal Injury Prevention found that the number of pedestrians who have been killed or badly injured while wearing headphones has tripled in the past six years. By eliminating the music and letting natural sounds back in, you no longer suffer from sensory deprivation.

But if you're a runner who can't log miles without music, try a pair of AfterShokz ($59.95, which don't even go in your ears. The transmitters rest below your temples and deliver sound by vibrating the bones around the ear. (The same technology is used in special ops headsets so that soldiers can hear their surroundings.)

(Want more essential tips about the best new gadgets and healthy living? Sign up for the free Men's Health Best Life newsletter!)

-- Additional reporting by Amy Rushlow

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Always known as one of the fittest players on the men's tour, Andre Agassi has parlayed his devotion to conditioning into an extremely impressive post-career pursuit.

Last year Agassi and his longtime trainer, Gil Reyes, unveiled a line of fitness equipment called BILT. And this week one of their signature pieces, the Change Of Direction (COD) Machine, was honored with the prestigious 2013 FIBO Innovation Award for its design and safety.

The award's jury determined the machine was designed to allow ergonomically correct movements whether the user is squatting or standing. Moreover, there is a natural posture and the precise lines of the exercise are guaranteed. This way the back and neck muscles are spared.

"Gil and I are extremely honored to have won a globally recognized award within our first year of entering such a competitive industry," Agassi said. "This award provides validation to the team's commitment to uncompromised focus on providing tools aimed at maximizing personal gains through innovation without sacrificing safety."

The COD's IntelliLift™ resistance system further enhances the machine, exercising deep-lying muscles that are not often utilized during workouts.

“There are a number of different machines that target the individual elements, but no device is similar to the C.O.D. in its ability to do it all," Agassi said.

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The crunch is the most popular abs exercise because anyone -- out-of-shape housewives, couch-dwelling video game fanatics--can do it. But that doesn't mean it's the best exercise for training your middle. "Crunches flex your trunk," says David Jack, owner of Actv8 Phoenix and creator of The High-Intensity Body-Weight Workout. "But the main function of your core is to prevent movement and resist force through your torso."

That's why Jack recommends adding 360 abs to your workout routine. While in a pushup position, you must keep your torso completely still as your legs create sweeping circles in different directions. Doing smaller loops hit your six-pack muscles, while bigger ones hit your entire midsection including your obliques, hips, and lower back. The result: an exercise that sculpts a washboard stomach and improves core stability all at once. Watch the video below to learn how to do 360 abs with perfect form.

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For more exciting and cutting edge exercises to shake up your fitness routine, check out Men's Health DeltaFit.

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JaMarcus Russell, perhaps the biggest NFL draft bust this side of Ryan Leaf, is preparing for a return to the NFL. And unlike his previous stint in the league, this time Russell appears to be serious.

The top pick of the 2007 NFL draft has reportedly lost 27 pounds since he began training in February. Working with Brian Martin of TEST Football Academy and TEST West, Russell is down to about 288 pounds, and he'd like to lose another 20 by the time he holds a pro day later this spring.

"Through the first couple weeks, I could barely make it through the workout," Russell says in a video produced by Bleacher Report. "We go in to do the warmup, and here I am breathing like a fat man. Now I'm breathing pretty good and able to stand up on my own two feet."

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In addition to his work with Martin, Russell has a host of All-Star coaches who are reportedly helping him with his return. Jeff Garcia (quarterback technique training), Olympian Ato Boldon (speed training and analysis) and former running back Marshall Faulk (reading defenses) are just a few of Russell's teachers as he works his way back to the gridiron.

With quarterbacks getting injured early and often, and a weak incoming draft class, this could be a perfect time for Russell to reassert himself as a reliable backup.

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