Neurofeedback and the Athlete
In athletics mental fitness is just as important as physical fitness. The better a person’s brain functions, the better the person functions overall! Neurofeedback assists in improving brain function, which in turn improves an athlete’s ability to perform at their best.
Many professional athletes utilize neurofeedback to enhance their sports performance (members of the US Olympic Ski Team, Olympic beach-volleyball player Kerri Walsh-Jennings, and members of the Italian soccer team). When Italy won the World Cup for soccer in 2006, members of their team described neurofeedback to be their secret weapon in performance ability and success.
How exactly does neurofeedback affect a person’s ability to play sports?
- Attention and Focus
Sports performance requires the brain to focus while simultaneously ignoring distracting stimuli. While different sports vary in what is required of the brain overall, neurofeedback improves a person’s ability to keep that ‘in the zone focus’ while maintaining a high level of controlled body mechanics.
- Improves Emotional Control
Anxiety over a big upcoming game or the pressure to perform to high standards can negatively influence how an athlete performs. Neurofeedback assists the brain in breaking out of inefficient patterns; allowing it to run more efficiently, with more resilience, flexibility and stability. It can also help build brain resilience, improving the central nervous system’s ability to bounce back from a negative incident (i.e. slump, post-injury hesitance).
- Slows Cognitive Decline
As a person ages, the brain naturally begins to decline in certain areas, such as memory and reaction time. Just as a person must exercise the body to keep in prime physical shape, fitness for the brain is also necessary to keep the brain functioning at its best. Neurofeedback is to the brain as hitting the gym is to the body.
- Improves Sleep
Sleep directly influences how a person performs any physical or mental task during the day. Athletes need recuperative, restorative sleep to maintain both physical and mental demands placed upon them. Neurofeedback has been proven to improve the quality and depth of sleep.
- Restores Brain Function after Body Blow, Concussion, TBI, etc
The “dings” that occur in sports or the confusion following the blow to the head that made us see stars have varying degrees of consequence on the physical structure of the brain and/or its function. Over time, the effect of these incidents becomes cumulative until that seemingly inconsequential event that becomes the tipping point as it is followed by symptoms that interfere with memory, sleep, mood, pain, and the ability to get along with people.