By Aaron Kemp
At the Skills For Sports Academy we have established a professional training environment where sportspersons of all ages and levels have the opportunity to achieve their personal best. We strongly believe that there are huge benefits in cognitive training in athletes, and so all our training sessions include some form of cognitive work, and we also extend this to home-based training.
There are some principle advantages we are looking to gain from cognitive training, which include improvement in the following:
- Awareness and mental focus
- Ability to read and anticipate complex scenes
- Faster reading and response to the evolution of play
- Ability to deal with the unpredictability of play
- Training core athletic abilities when physically injured
Using modern training methods and technologies, these are all achievable as part of cognitive development programs. Developing an athlete’s ability to process key information rapidly, decide upon an appropriate action, execute the action, and then evaluate the outcome of the action, is central to achieving elite levels of athleticism in team sports. Being able to strategically make future decisions based on dynamic action happening on the fly is what separates the best from the rest.
Developing Athleticism at the Level of the Individual
At the Skills For Sports Academy our athletes receive individually tailored training programs and sessions that are designed specifically to foster their talent, while developing the skills and techniques of the individual, group or team across a wide range of sporting disciplines. We use NeuroTracker programs specifically to help young athletes develop their abilities to make decisions under pressure, anticipate opponents earlier, pick out key play opportunities, boost situational awareness, and finally to maintain sharpness through a long season.
The fact that we can use NeuroTracker to train these in short and effective 6-minute sessions, allows us to implement cognitive training on a regular basis. Assigning practical home training programs also helps us go the extra mile, so we can accelerate learning in between Academy-based training. The fact that top NFL, NBA, NHL and EPL teams use NeuroTracker is great for motivating athletes to get stuck into the mental dimension of their development.
Training Without Exhaustion
With young athletes especially, parents and coaches are often keen to pressure them, including adding high physical loads of training. Unfortunately, this comes with the risk of overloading their bodies while they are trying to grow and develop. It’s a major reason why I see cognitive training as the perfect method to enhance current training regimes, as it only adds load to mental functions.
Young athlete’s brains are basically learning machines, and so they are much more flexible for dealing with mental loads over physical. The last factor is that this boosting mental performance can help them to gain the edge over their peers, especially if they are not as well matched physically.
The Psychological Dimension of Training
As Director of Skills For Sports Academy, I believe in fostering a community focused Academy that prides itself on a fun, inclusive attitude. All of our coaching staff are passionate about building the confidence of each individual allowing them to enjoy their sport while striving to be the best they can be. Intrinsically motivating players means going beyond teaching them how to play well, or telling them what to. You have to also build-up fundamental abilities that allow them to go on to learn and develop themselves more effectively.
Techniques like NeuroTracker help us build-up the mental tools kids need to in order really engage in self-improvement. There’s nothing better for instilling a love of sport than the proud feeling that you have developed yourself to new level of performance.
Director of Skills For Sports Academy in Sydney, Australia, Aaron is also head coach of Northern Tigers State U13’s and the assistant coach for the U15’s Youth League team. As professionally qualified specialist in soccer coaching, he designs and implements coaching and player development programs for local clubs.
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