FASTER BRAIN, BETTER ATHLETE
At about minute 50 of the semi-final round of the 2018 World Cup match between France and Belgium a corner kick soars toward the Belgian box to meet the head of Samuel Umtiti, a French center-back. The ball glides off of his head and squeezes into the goal on the edge of the post. The announcer proclaims “just a glance” off the head. The announcer also notes that the goalie started too far back, he wasn't covering that corner well enough and got caught off guard. In this situation the goalie couldn't recover and this turned out to be the only goal of the game, dashing Belgium's dream at a World Cup Championship. Now they will wait 4 years to try again.
But what if the goalie was ready? What if he was a little more focused and in place? One could argue that fatigue had set in that far into the match, but it was really quite early to claim that. This brings up the importance of focus during sports. While all serious athletes spend a large chunk of time training their body some are also taking an extra step and are training their brain. Kerri Walsh-Jennings the famous volleyball player and Alexandre Bilodeau the gold medal Olympic mogul skier, just to name a couple, have used something called neurofeedback to take their mental performance to the next level.
Neurofeedback is probably one of the most up an coming methods of improving brain performance these days.
Many people use this type of training to help with various conditions such a depression and anxiety with undeniable success(1). Athletes have to be extra sharp though. Every turn and every move has to be timed just right if they want to make it big. Neurofeeback can help improve processing speed, can help calm nerves, can improve focus and can improve your overall mental fitness level(2).
More than likely, if you are a professional athlete in the next 10 years, you will be exposed to neurofeedback in order to help get an edge on your competition, if you haven't already. Ideally neurofeedback training starts at a young age while the brain is still moldable, but neurofeedback is still effective after childhood. Fortunately neurofeedback is not very invasive and only requires a 30 minute EEG brain scan to determine if training would benefit you. After the scan, training sessions are done for about 30 minutes and a plan can be made to customize your training schedule.
If you or child are an athlete in the year 2018, this may be something worth looking into. Initial scans can range around $100 which is a pretty small investment, considering that most serious athletes are spending thousands of dollars per year on specialized gym memberships, thousands on gear and thousands on showcase exposure and tournament travel.