It is well known that an athlete’s mental ability plays a huge role in performance. Although mental and physical systems are interlinked very tightly, P3 paid little attention to the mental side of performance as compared to the physical side, due to the fact that it had been next to impossible to quantify. Thanks to breakthroughs in neuro-technology, this is changing. Recently, P3 partnered with Neurotopia as a means of better understanding and improving peak mental performance of athletes. Neurotopia provides our athletes the worlds most advanced neuro-diagnostic technology, along with the leading experts in Quantitative EEG and neuro-physiology.
The Neurotopia website does a great job of describing what Performance Brain Training is and how it works:
The brain is the command center that drives the body’s performance. How it functions affects an athlete’s control of focus, speed of reaction, quality of sleep, efficiency of motor movement, emotional reactivity, and ability to mentally recover after an error. When the brain is able to efficiently function, an athlete is better at performing under pressure, sustaining focus, as well as mentally resetting during competition.
Neurotopia’s Performance Brain Training™ is a process which uses technology to provide an athlete with more information about what their brain is doing than their normal senses provide. It produces “real-time” feedback that helps athletes learn to associate the proper feeling with the most effective brainwave activity. This training allows athletes to learn how to suppress brainwaves associated with low performance and increase brainwaves associated with optimal brain function.
Performance Brain Training starts by placing a brainwave sensor headset on the athlete. The sensors interpret how the brain is functioning by listening to the brain’s electro-chemical activity. Neurotopia’s software converts this activity into graphs and scores to provide the athlete with visual feedback as to what state their brain is currently in. As their brain state moves toward focus, the athlete can see the graph move upward and the score increase. Similarly, as they become distracted, the graph moves down and the score decreases. For training purposes, Neurotopia converts some of these graphs into video games whereby the game accelerates toward a goal when the brain’s activity is optimal and slows down or stops when the brain shifts from this optimal state.
Measurement is the key to all advances in peak performance and being able to measure the mental game is finally available. Neurotopia’s Performance Brain Training algorithms provide athletes with the technology to train and quantify mental performance in the same way a stop watch is used to measure an athlete’s speed or a force plate is used to measure an athlete’s horizontal force.
Neuro physicians have been looking at P3 athletes’ peak performance brain wave patterns to determine potential for improvement in mental speed, focus and stress management and we are seeing fascinating results, especially with our MLB players that went through a full-off season of performance brain training.
Along with understanding how Performance Brain Training works it is also important to understand various brain wave functions:
Beta brain waves are associated with increased ability to focus, and being in a highly energetic mental state. It allows one to think quickly and efficiently, however too much beta can lead to stress and anxiety.Alpha brain waves are associated with non-arousal and being in a relaxed state, but at the same time being aware of what is going on.Theta waves dominate brain wave activity when we are not able to concentrate. Theta waves are very active when people are daydreaming.Delta waves are active during deep stages of sleep.
The vast majority of baseball players that participated in brain training mentioned the most noticeable change after undergoing a few sessions was improved quality of sleep. This is of course very important as sleep quality and the ability to access slow wave brain patterns (delta) during sleep improve motor functions, reaction time and overall recovery, enabling athletes to train and play at a high level day in and day out. Research has shown that individuals who do not reach slow wave brain patterns during sleep are not able to recover and continue to have theta waves active during the day, negatively affecting their ability to focus and concentrate. Along with improving overall recovery and ability to focus, slow wave sleep patterns increase human growth hormone, which is a primary driver for muscle mass formation and repair of damaged muscle tissue.
Along with baseball players initial observations of better sleep, the data showed that P3 athletes improved their focus (increased beta, decreased theta), reaction and mental processing speed (decreasing dis-regulation and increasing regulation, brain wave patterns are optimized which enables more efficient processing of sensory information) and stress regulation (having the correct alpha to beta ratio) throughout the off-season. Perhaps most interestingly, we are already able to identify the objective data patterns in different types of athletes within the same sport, such as hitters versus pitchers, based on their original EEG patterns.
Being able to quantify and train mental performance systems, similarly to how we quantify physical systems, is very exciting and will prove to be the new frontier in performance.
For more information and research on Performance Brain Training click here.