Evolving Soccer Skills Under Pressure with NeuroTracker

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We covered the dual-task approach to NeuroTracker training in an earlier blog ‘The multiple stages of NeuroTracker training – performance’. You can see in that blog how complexity can be amped-up with training over time. In this blog we will provide some guidance on how to utilize this patented training methodology to elevate soccer skills under pressure. Whether your already a male or female professional player, or an aspiring amateur at any age, get set to achieve your next level of performance!

The Core Approach

The fundamental approach follows this basic process:

  1. NeuroTracking
  2. NeuroTracking with a basic motor-skill task such as standing or balancing on one foot
  3. NeuroTracking with a more demanding performance specific task, such as dribbling a basketball

This video illustrates the central concept of progressing dual-task complexity over time and in skill-specific ways.

It doesn’t sound like rocket science, but this was born out of sports science research, dubbed the ‘NeuroTracker Learning System’, there are a couple of principles to it which make it quite a powerful technique for advanced conditioning.

First, results with NHL, EPL and top Rugby athletes discovered that even adding a task as simple as standing (compared to sitting) can significantly lower both NeuroTracker scores and learning rates. This showed that getting overall cognitive load right is essential for maximizing conditioning effects. Second, a study with Spanish Olympic athletes found that after training up on just NeuroTracker, athletes could quickly adapt when harder and harder dual-tasks were added.

So in a nutshell, if cognitive load is adjusted in line with adaptation to NeuroTracker training effects, then athletes can rapidly learn to handle exceptionally high loads of cognitive and motor-skill complexity – a classic quality of great athletic performance. This is epitomized in soccer, where players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi have the prowess to thrive amidst pressure and chaos, making rapid but accurate decisions while executing sublime levels of physical skill.

Giving it a Shot

So for soccer coaches and players looking to step up gameplay ability when it matters the most on the field, here is a tried and tested 5-stage program to take a shot at.

Sitting

Capture d’écran 2016-08-16 à 15.20.34

Standing 

Capture d’écran 2016-08-16 à 14.44.29

Balancing (balance beam/board or bosu ball)

Capture d’écran 2016-08-16 à 14.36.58

Passing

Capture d’écran 2016-08-16 à 14.35.43

Headers

Capture d’écran 2016-08-16 à 14.36.35

Practical pointers

The added skill tasks are only performed during the movement tracking phase of sessions, and the athlete should try to keep visual focus on the NeuroTracker screen, using peripheral visual awareness for the soccer ball as much as possible. The dual-task sessions can also incorporate non-Core sessions like Overload, Dynamic, Target or Tactical. It’s important that sessions 15/20/25/30/35/40 are just Core sitting, as these provide updated NeuroTracker baselines. These provide a valuable reference as to how well your dual-tasks skills are evolving – achieve a dual-task speed threshold close to your current Core baseline while just sitting, and you have truly mastered the skill under pressure.

Only progress to the next dual-task level when NeuroTracker scores are no less than below 30% of the sitting Core, this ensures cognitive load is optimized for on-going learning effects. If the last phase is mastered, then get in touch with the NeuroTracker team for tips EPL teams use to reach the next level.

Evolving Truly Elite Athletes

As we mentioned Cristiano Ronaldo earlier, Mick Clegg was the legendary coach behind his meteoric rise at Manchester United, from a inexperienced rookie all the way to FIFA player of the year. Mick was the visionary who discovered NeuroTracker at the Faubert Lab and immediately got Sir Alex Ferguson to adopt it into the club’s assessment, rehabilitation and performance programs.

His experience at the club with a plethora of world class soccer players led to his realization that rapid cognition is what differentiates the best from the rest, and that this is trainable. In his own words,

“NeuroTracker is a fundamental tool for harnessing and developing any athlete’s performance potential. That’s why I’ve run over 15,000 NeuroTracker sessions for Manchester United’s best, pro athletes, and world champions in multiple sports.”

If you’d like to read more on Mick’s unique insights into sculpting athletic prowess, then read these great Expert Corner blogs here.

Mastering Performance the Ronaldo Way

Brain Holds Key to Performance Edge in Elite Sports

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The NeuroTracker Team