Neurology is an emerging market for sports performance and I was emailed yesterday about what coaches should worry about regarding train the brain concepts. What disturbed me was the use of what should we worry about, hinting that experts and gurus are throwing a lot of misinformation about what can be done with workouts of the head. Two weeks ago, on the the track an athlete repeated the mantra is all about the mind and I disagreed. I explained the mental maxes out the physical, and you need to train both without compromise. Sort of like the stride length and stride frequency discussions, I am not a fan of segregating the two qualities. You can’t simply just play above the rim because you are smart above the neck.
My fear is we will start seeing a lot of voodoo with this No Brain no Gain philosophy and training will continue to be less work, and more play, an no results. I understand that simulations like the Holodeck in StarTrek are valuable but we need to make sure corrections are in place with the basics before we start doing more laser tag. Athletes need to connect movement to the brain, not just simulate it with video games or show EEG graphs from free throws. So where do we go with this?
I think a balance between the coaching side and the consultant is a best practice with sport psychology and sports neurophysiology. What do great coaches do with the information? The same rules apply to the brain that they do to any other organ system. Evidence, History, and data. No matter what you do have clear examples of how the technology or idea makes an impact that is measurable and visually obvious. Examples are many, such as seeing a facial expression during a race, if an athlete is forgetting equipment all around, or if athlete looses focus during a skill session. Much of the solutions are complicated and will never be perfect because people are not perfect, and that’s why the sport of Athletics is so great.