Sunday, March 25, 2012

Article Review: Neurotopia - Brain Training to Improve Concentration in Tennis (or anything)

"Futuristic Fitness," Stephen Tignor, Tennis Magazine, April 2012, pp. 24-27.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic made famous a chamber-like device which the Wall Street Journal called "The Egg".

Some called it Novak's "secret weapon" because he trained with it just before the 2010 U.S. Open, in which he roared his way to the finals.

It is found at the tennis academy in New Jersey owned by former pro Gordon Uehling, III, as part of his futuristic program.

It basically simulates high altitude conditions and increases red blood cells, thus offering a new take on 21st century training.

But Uehling's program doesn't stop with the physical dimension.

His system offers something even more sci-fi --- a brain-training method to improve mental performance in sports called Neurotopia.

What is Neurotopia?

It's a video-game-like technology which is at the cutting edge of sport science.

Sensors are placed onto to a subject's head, and reactions are monitored to a series of signals representing stress and lack of focus.

After a "personality profile" is developed, the subject and his sensors are then connected to a video monitor depicting a cartoon-like 3D car that you might see in a video game.

The more the subject focuses on the car on the monitor, the faster and faster it moves. This enhances the subject's general concentration levels.

The subject is then given signals of increasing stress, and encouraged to maintain and even accelerate the car's pace. The result?

The subject's concentration levels are unconsciously and dramatically improved, even under stress.

Imagine applying heightened concentration levels when you get tight, such as when finishing out a match, holding serve or avoiding double faults.

Ask Mike Bryan of the Bryan Brother twins about Neurotopia. He took 20 sessions last year, and says it helped.

"I can hold my focus longer, and I feel like I can turn it on when I need it," remarked Mike. "I wanted my body to be relaxed, but my brain to be working, and that's how I feel."

The article's author Tignor summed it up this way:

"Brain training is in its early stages of its development, and no one knows exactly where it will lead."


Video: Athlete Brain Training
By: labfaubert

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