Why Brain Training Matters

For the time being, let’s set aside the concussion issue and how virtual reality puts the athlete in a zero impact environment.  This is certainly a benefit of using virtual reality in training.  However, the discussion on protecting the brain overshadows the benefits of virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) in training the brain.

Before the argument turns into which is better – live video or video gam-like simulations, realize that training the brain to track and focus multiple targets as simple as blobs on the  screen has a positive effect on an athlete.

In the video below, you will see orange spheres being used in a VR simulation designed to improve cognitive-perceptual performance:

All great athletes know that to be very efficient, they cannot rely solely on their physical abilities. The speed and effectiveness of their decision-making are essential. Two researchers at the School of Optometry, University of Montreal have discovered that by training the high performance athlete brain with perceptual-cognitive task in a virtual reality environment, they managed to increase by 53% in the average cognitive-perceptual performance of athletes. Conducted by the postdoctoral fellow David Tinjust and professor Jocelyn Faubert, holder of the NSERC-Essilor research Chair, this research has been conducted at the Laboratory of Psychophysics and Visual Perception at the Universite de Montreal.

The point is, it is really about the protocol as much as it is the immersion.  Yes a fully immersive simulation is more realistic, but it doesn’t necessarily take every single element or something that looks 100% life like to make an impact on the athletes vision and decision making.

Football is a game of patterns.  It starts with the players in a static alignment, and when the ball is snapped a truly finite number of movement patterns happen in front of the athlete.  For the athlete to see what he needs and make quick accurate decisions, he needs to be trained in those patterns of movements. Unfortunately, a limited number of on field repetitions are available.  It becomes even more limited for the second or third teamer.  So how does the player get the training he needs?  The answer is in the technology that trains the brain.  It takes a lot of time to set up all 22 players and run play repetitions.  With virtual reality an entire practice can be simulated in minutes.

In an article in the upcoming issue of American Football Monthly I highlight EON Sports VR, STVIR Labs, Axon Sports, and Dynavision.  Each does things differently in terms of how they train the brain and the technology that they utilize.  The one aspect of each that is consistent is that their products are proven to enhance the ability of the brain to function and help the athlete to perform in the football environment.

I promise you if you are not looking into how you can utilize brain training and these companies to train your athletes, you will be.  Here’s one way to get started:

coachesedge

http://eonsportsvr.com/store/

I include an in-depth section in my soon to be released book Coaching HD on the new Coaches Edge Technology platform.  Stay tuned for news and announcements. In the mean time, check out our library here.

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Tony Dorsett battling signs of CTE

February 10, 2015

ESPN reported yesterday on Tony Dorsett battling signs off chronic traumatic encephalopathy. As explained in the article, CTE is a degenerative condition many scientists say is caused by head trauma and is linked to depression and dementia. It is indicated by a buildup of tau, an abnormal protein that strangles brain cells in areas that control memory, emotions and other functions.

Dorsett’s battle needs to be something that we learn from.  His quote on playing football and how it has caused this is poignant:

“I signed up for this when, I guess, I started playing football so many years ago,” Dorsett told 1310 The Ticket in Dallas. “But, obviously, not knowing that the end was going to be like this. But I love the game. The game was good to me. It’s just unfortunate that I’m going through what I’m going through.”

I believe that we, as coaches can find a way to decrease the amount of concussions in our game through better coaching.  There should not be a conscientious decision being made by football participants that they are potentially signing up for future brain problems.

I am still working on a study on tackling and concussions in football.  During the season, I asked for coaches to send in video clips where concussions have occurred.

I am looking for plays like the above.  My theory is that with a set of video of plays where a concussion occurred, we will be able to categorize how the concussion happened and together work on solutions to teaching proper technique and form. Practice or game film from youth through college levels will be useful in this study.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I would like to compile a playlist of video clips from either practice or game in which a concussion occurred.  This video will be shared with coaches and doctors so that we can work together to identify what we can do to help solve what has become a concern in football and has the media spotlight.  It threatens the future of the game.  The equipment manufacturers are doing a great job to create products that protect our players and even alert coaching and training staff through sensors and devices if a hit is a concern.

As coaches, we need to take a role in this too.  Please share your video clips via hudl or email.  grabkj@gmail.com is my email.  My Hudl account for this is under the name Coaches Edge Technologies.  You can do a one-way exchange to share your video.  Please pass this along to coaches you know.  The level you coach at is irrelevant to the study.  Film can be from youth through college.

Pete Carroll has done a great job putting together video of their techniques.  Here is a post on the Seahawks “Heads Out” Tackling.

Our great game of football is under attack. It is our duty as coaches to become better teachers of the game, and strive to coach the best and safest techniques. Carroll’s tackling video is a great starting point.

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My company, Coaches Edge Technologies is dedicated to providing in-depth coaching materials so that we can help build a better coach, a better, player, and a better team. Check out our website for cutting edge materials that can help you right now.

https://coachesedgetechnologies.com

Concussion Study – Coaches please send your video

I am looking for plays like the above.  My theory is that with a set of video of plays where a concussion occurred, we will be able to categorize how the concussion happened and together work on solutions to teaching proper technique and form. Practice or game film from youth through college levels will be useful in this study.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I would like to compile a playlist of video clips from either practice or game in which a concussion occurred.  This video will be shared with coaches and doctors so that we can work together to identify what we can do to help solve what has become a concern in football and has the media spotlight.  It threatens the future of the game.  The equipment manufacturers are doing a great job to create products that protect our players and even alert coaching and training staff through sensors and devices if a hit is a concern.

As coaches, we need to take a role in this too.  Please share your video clips via hudl or email.  grabkj@gmail.com is my email.  My Hudl account for this is under the name Coaches Edge Technologies.  You can do a one-way exchange to share your video.  Please pass this along to coaches you know.  The level you coach at is irrelevant to the study.  Film can be from youth through college.