Imagine being one putt away from winning the Wells Fargo Championship; knowing that one false movement could mean missing the putt and missing out on the $7,900,000 purse. Now imagine all the variables that play into sinking that putt. Ball speed, body mechanics, correctly reading the green, hand-eye coordination, tuning out all the fans, and the list goes on. How do the Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and Rory McElroy consistently handle this pressure and what separates them from the rest of the aspiring golfers? In previous years, many would argue that it came down to years of practice, experience, and coaching. However, in today’s era of golf many golfers are adding a dose of neuroscience to their preparation and training routines. Training their brains and bodies based on neurofeedback, or brain training.
What is neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback, also called neurotherapy or neurobiofeedback (that’s a mouthful!), is a type of biofeedback that uses real-time displays of brain activity in an attempt to teach self-regulation of brain function.
Why train the brain?
It’s no secret that the brain is the hub that controls everything about our bodies including movements, reactions, emotions, decision making skills, and more. So why would an athlete limit their ability to improve based on just physical training? Imagine being a baseball player spending countless hours in the gym so they can swing the bat faster and hit the ball further. Now imagine them failing to work on their reaction time, and ability to read the incoming pitches. Without those abilities, all that training in the gym could be considered a waste. The same thing applies to golfers and other athletes. As athletes progress in their career, competition increases and demands impeccable reaction times, balance, hand-eye coordination, and decision-making skills. All of which are things that have shown improvement as athletes apply neurofeedback to their training regimens.
TYPES OF TRAINING
There are a variety of training techniques and therapies within the field of neuroscience. Some of which we use here at Better Brain & Body include Neurofeedback, Interactive Metronome, Motion Guidance, RightEye Sports Vision, and Gyrostim therapy. Below is a brief breakdown of each neuroscience therapy as it applies to a golfer.
Balance and reaction times are ultra-important when it comes to athletics. Gyrostim therapy is an off-vertical axis rotation therapy designed to improve a person’s reaction time, processing speed and balance.
Interactive metronome is a therapy that measures and improves an athlete’s timing and coordinated movements.
Motion guidance therapy provides athletes with visual feedback on how their body movements influence their resulting athletic performance. In the case of a golf, this allows a golfer to better understand how their body mechanics are influencing the balls flight path and thereafter helps them build muscle memory around the correct swing motion.
RightEye Sports Vision:
Hand eye coordination is key to athletes. We use RightEye Sports Vision to measures the vision skills and reaction times of athletes and compare the results to that of other amateur and professional athletes. Such comparisons allow us to provide each athlete with a custom training regimen based on their performance and the demands of their sport.
ARE THESE TRAINING THERAPIES JUST FOR THE PROS?
The short answer is no. Neuroscience has a lot of applications for both athletes and non-athletes. Below are some examples where neuroscience may be beneficial.
Competitive Athletes (Professional and Non-professional)
If you’re a competitive athlete there is no doubt that neuroscience-based training and therapy may be something worth considering. Not only can these therapies be used to improve your game and performance, but they have also been used to help athletes recover from injury.
If you are a younger athlete aspiring to play at the collegiate level or at a professional level, neuroscience-based training is becoming bigger factor throughout sports. Schools like Stanford University have used such techniques with their athletes. Likewise, professional teams like the Boston Red Sox have started using neuroscience-based games in their scouting and development of new players.
It’s important to note neuroscience-based therapy does not just apply to athletes. In fact, many of the therapies mentioned in this post are rooted in helping people recover from injuries and brain-based conditions including strokes, traumatic brain injury, childhood developmental disorders like ADHD and autism, Parkinson’s disease, and vestibular disorders like Vertigo.