Have you ever thought about the fact that your physical performance (in the gym, on the running trails, in your favorite sport) depends on more than just your physical training and nutrition? I think we often forget about the mental side it! A friend of ours is the mental conditioning coach for Colorado State University. I never even knew jobs like that existed until I met Lowell! It has always been interesting to see the exercises he implements with the athletes at CSU, and recently he's released a free app so the rest of can train our brain like athletes!
When I heard about "Time to Focus", I had to check it out. It seems simple...finding a starting number in a grid of numbers, and then clicking on the next number in the sequence. And of course it's timed. Turns out, focus is something I could use some improvement on! I did NOT do so well at the game! Yikes! While investigating this brain-training thing, I learned that the real key to these kinds of exercises working is activating brain chemistry, and it's all about timing. You can kind of think of these brain exercises as a "warm-up" before a performance. They are even effective before an important presentation or meeting...any situation where focus and attention to detail is uber-important. By playing a game like "Time to Focus" for 20 minutes about an hour before your performance, that will activate the centers in your brain that will help you focus on what is next! Cool huh?
When I was a competitive gymnast, a lot of my coaches taught us the value of visualization. This was my first introduction to brain training. So much of gymnastics (and lots of sports!) is about muscle memory, but by picturing yourself doing your routine flawlessly, it helped you perform it that way (or close!) in competition. I used to visualize my routines while laying in bed every night...so much so that I STILL go through my bar routine when I'm trying to fall asleep! It's amazing how 15 years later I can still "do" a perfect routine in my head! I continue to use this method by picturing myself crossing the finish line of a race feeling fast and strong. Heck, I'm so nerdy I did it before and while I was in labor!
All this talk about brain training got me thinking about what other methods top class athletes use to get their brain in tip-top shape. I talked to Lowell about the methods he uses for football players and other athletes, and how the rest of us can use them for our own performance! I thought it would be fun to share something that he uses for a college quarterback - I know there are lots of football fans around here!
"An example of a variation for a QB would be sensory deprivation, i.e., after a 3 step drop close your eyes and throw the ball to a receiver. This exercise is done with QB’s that are mature and have a certain level of confidence. When they first do this exercise they are amazed at how good their recall and muscle memory is. This drill is used for QB’s that are skittish in the pocket during a blitz and struggle controlling their emotions."
Ok now you go try! Close your eyes and throw a ball to hit a target! Yikes! Tough! We may not have a quarterback's poise and confidence in the pocket, but there are several foundational methods you can use your brain to improve your performance, no matter what your goals.
1. Breathe Training (hello...yoga!)
2. Goal Setting
4. Simple Brain Training: playing card games like solitaire or playing games on websites like Luminosity.
5. Rigorous Brain Training: playing "Time to Focus", playing an instrument, or any activity that combines hand-eye coordination with movement, strength and agility.
how about you?
Do you ever use any of these techniques? I would love to hear what works for you!
This post isn't sponsored in any way, just something I'm genuinely interested in.
It's great to see you! I'm Alyssa and I blog about all the things I've found "essential" in my life as a fit mama and football coach's wife. You'll find all kinds of fun stuff here like workouts, oily info, football stories and more!
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I am not a licensed medical professional. All views expressed on this website are based on my own personal research and experiences. Please consult your doctor with any medical issues before beginning a training program.
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