What if it were possible to add one thing to your routine that would help you work more efficiently and could improve your tennis game at the same time, would you add it? Peak performance can be defined as a state in which the person performs to the maximum of their ability and is characterized by feelings of confidence, effortlessness and total concentration on the task. Peak performance is coveted in all aspects of life and being able to achieve this state could make the difference between getting that promotion or sinking that game- winning shot. How can peak performance be achieved? You could spend hours practicing your sport or expend a lot of energy trying to work harder at your job and still not be performing at your peak. Many times we try to fix behavior (which can be important) but the problem could be hidden in our brain. The solution to increasing performance is neurofeedback.
Neurofeedback is used in peak performance to optimize brain function. For example, a person could have an “anxious brain” which means that their brain is moving too fast. It may seem like a fast brain is already performing at an optimal level but it is quite the contrary. An anxious brain leads to increased mistakes, excessive multi-tasking leaving tasks unfinished, and overfocus (or worry) on the future instead of being present in the moment. Neurofeedback works by training the brain to move at a more efficient pace. How does that translate in the real world? An efficient brain makes a person feel calmer while still allowing them to concentrate, “get in the zone”, and perform tasks more effectively. It is crucial to train the brain to reach this state if you have a demanding job that requires making frequent important decisions.
Kirk Cousins, starting quarterback for the division winning Washington Redskins, believes in training his brain with neurofeedback to make his game better. It doesn’t get any more demanding than playing quarterback in the NFL. The quarterback is forced to make split-second decisions while 300 pound men are running full speed toward him. He can either panic and throw an ill-advised pass to his opponents or remain calm while evaluating the best way to get the ball to his teammates. Cousins decided he wanted to be better at the latter this season. Cousins’ neurofeedback assessment showed that his brain was moving faster than it should and caused him to go into panic mode during game situations last season. After getting benched at the end of last season, he decided to do peak performance neurofeedback in order to become a better player. He likened neurofeedback to weight training in the 50’s because not many football players were lifting weights back then. Now, all players weight train and he sees brain training as being the next thing to give players an edge over the competition.
Athletes from other sports have utilized peak performance neurofeedback training as well. In 2006, players from the Italian national soccer team trained with neurofeedback and attributed their 2006 World Cup win to neurofeedback training. Olympic freestyle skiers train with neurofeedback to increase relaxation and learn to focus while performing.
Peak performance can even come in the form of online Brain Games such as Lumosity and Brain HQ. In the news recently, there has been debate over the effectiveness of such brain games. Brain HQ has many studies on their website indicating improvements in brain function after using these games. See http://www.brainhq.com/world-class-science/published-research. Norman Doidge, MD, a respected psychiatrist, has lots of positive feedback about these brain games in his book The Brain That Changes Itself.
The Better Brain Center is the largest Neurofeedback clinic in northern Virginia and in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. We specialize in brain training for peak performance based on what your individual brain needs to improve.
By Derek Russell, MA, NCC – Neurofeedback Therapist, Technician at The Better Brain Center. If you would like to get in touch with Derek please call 833-964-8483 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.