Going inside the mind and body of a future NBA star, Red Bull's High Performance Program pushes athletes, including NBA prospect Dante Exum, to their limits so they can formulate a plan for how to improve and get to the top of their sport.
Is mental infirmity an inevitable consequence of getting old? Or could we enjoy a more clear-headed old age?
In California it's common to see advertisements promoting brain training or brain workouts which claim to help reverse the effects of ageing.
Beach-volleyball star Kerri Walsh-Jennings and her teammate Misty May-Treanor have dominated the sport for more than a decade, capturing gold medals at the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics. So it's unusual for the duo to be heading to London as the third-seeded team, rather than No. 1. "We're a bit of the underdog," says Ms. Walsh-Jennings. "It's a whole other mind-set."
Adam Dunn, one of the new players on the White Sox in 2011, had heard the stories about the club's brilliant but joyless right fielder, Carlos Quentin. Dunn had heard the nicknames given by teammates about Quentin's moods, and Dunn wondered how someone could be so remarkably good at a game and yet have so little enjoyment playing it.
Think you have what it takes to make it into the Olympics? Try on Kerri Walsh's routine for size. The two-time Olympic gold medalist and volleyball superstar trains on the beach (we could think of worse workout environments!), does Pilates, runs track and lifts weights two times a week. And that's just the beginning.
In athlete development, it’s easy to obsess with the physical. Run further, jump higher, move faster — we’ve developed thousands of techniques to push the body harder, longer. Post Activation Potentiation; increased acceleration. Nervous System Training; improved power from the same muscle mass. We see the tangible payoff. So much of our progress in sports science has resulted from training the physical system simply because we’ve had the tools measure it.
Hana Papaco is a tennis player at Ottawa University in Surprise. On this particular Wednesday afternoon, she walks onto the tennis court like she has done countless times in her life. Today is different though.
Mind over matter.
A simple phrase that invariably underscores success within the sporting arena. Yet, taken on its surface, it’s widely considered to be easier said than done. Old Eastern-based adages permeates this space through meditation, mindfulness, and neurofeedback. These principles, when nurtured appropriately, tend to lead to a disciplined mind for athletic high performance. Harnessing the brain to deal with stress has largely been left to unconventional practices.
"That's where most of us get hung up in clutch moments," says Dr. Leslie Sherlin, a neuroscientist who shows athletes—including Walsh Jennings, the Seahawks and, among many others, basketball players—how their brains function. And, he adds: "We can't shut it off because we are so focused on the outcome—we're so focused on the process—that we can't just execute because we're busy processing that. People who succeed in clutch moments shut it off."
“When you’re talking about the next generation of athletes,” she states, “their lack of age helps a great deal. They’re too young to know what impossible means. ‘Can you do something?’ ‘I don’t know? Let me go try.’ And they’re too young to know what to be afraid of.”
I recently had my brain mapped to find out how I handle stress.
I sat ensconced in a large black leather chair, hooked up to electrodes cemented through a bright red cap with some kind of gel.
MELBOURNE—“Tennis players are always talking about the zone, getting into the zone,” Mike Bryan told me last week at the Australian Open. “I feel like I’m starting to know what it feels like.”
This cocktail of neurotransmitters released during flow is better than any prescription antidepressant, says Leslie Sherlin, PhD, a neuroscientist and provider of brain training research and programs. “If we think about all the different things we could put into antidepressants,” he says, “this combination would be it.” Sherlin says this makes flow state autotelic, meaning that it makes us feel so good that we chase it without any outside motivation.
The goal behind all the fancy Neurotopia electronics is something the neuroscientists like to call "self-regulation." This is the idea that using basic behavioral conditioning techniques – a positive stimulus for the "right" response, a negative stimulus for the "wrong one" – you can train your brain to influence physiological processes that we normally think are beyond, or below, conscious control: body temperature, heart rate, or, in this case, brain waves, the patterns neurons make when they fire as a group.
When it comes time to step onto the tennis court, who wouldn’t want Roger Federer’s brain? Well, brain, yes, and other physical attributes, too, for sure. Like his footwork, his serve, his volley … Can you tell I’m obsessed? But since the brain is the command center driving the body’s performance, it’s a pretty good place to start. How the brain functions affects an athlete’s focus, reaction speed, motor movement, emotional reactivity, ability to mentally recover after an error, and even quality of sleep. When the brain functions well, i.e., efficiently, an athlete can perform better under pressure. Wasn’t it Yogi Berra who said, “Baseball is 90 percent physical — the other half is mental”?
MARINA DEL REY (CBSLA.com) — If your brain needs a bit of a boost a new kind of video game could help sharpen your skills.
No remote control it needed – this game is played by tapping into the brain’s electrical waves.
Leslie Sherlin, who specializes in performance brain training, also teaches athletes to rewire their brains. He uses something called neurofeedback, a way to monitor the brain’s activity and reaction, to condition athletes to control their nervous system’s reaction to pressure situations and limit anxiety on the field. While mental skills are important to helping athletes reach a desirable physiological state, neurofeedback teaches them what that state feels like, Sherlin says.
Train the brain. Until recently, this phrase made me picture Neo from "The Matrix" proclaiming "I know kung fu" after he had martial arts abilities uploaded into his brain. But what if we really could harness technology, Neo-style, to help train our brains to better cope with everyday stress?
Leslie Sherlin, Ph.D., studies the brains of people making decisions — very, good decisions. He’s one of the world’s leading experts on the neuroscience of high performance and has helped professional athletes such as Rickie Fowler (PGA), Kyle Korver (NBA), and Carlos Quentin (MLB) in managing their stress. He recently signed on to be a professor at the new Ottawa University Arizona residential campus in Surprise. While Sherlin has been involved with Ottawa University for more than 18 months, this past fall he took the skills he teaches to professional athletes and shared them with Spirit student-athletes.
Hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly investigate tennis brain and the strategy, analytics, and neuroscience that make it work alongside tennis strategy analyst Craig O’Shannessy, sport psychologist Leslie Sherlin, and professional tennis coach Sarah Stone.
Analytics have become a religion in sports. And why not? Coaches are looking for every possible way to squeeze more skill out of their athletes, and a data-driven approach makes sense. But most developing athletes need something much simpler: more sleep.
If we think about ourselves in the most primitive way, we have a higher order of processing our activities, according to Leslie Sherlin, a sport psychology consultant and neuroperformance specialist.
When Leslie Sherlin studies the brains of athletes like three-time volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings and former Major League Baseball all-star Carlos Quentin, one shared attribute always stands out: elite athletes are elite sleepers. “They report increased ability to fall asleep and more efficient or productive sleep,” he says.
Saying the word done can help you get more accomplished on your to-do list. “Telling ourselves that we’re done creates not only an emotional reaction but a physiological response as well,” says Leslie Sherlin.
Interviews with experts in a variety of fields include thought leader in the science of self-mastery Judson Brewer, sports psychologist Gloria Petruzzelli, neuroscientists Tracey Shors and Fadel Zeidan, “brain hacker” Leslie Sherlin, and mindfulness researcher and professor of medicine Rick Hecht among others.
In this Wee Chat we talk with Dr. Leslie Sherlin, one of the leading neuroscientists in sport psychology. He has spent numerous years studying many brains in his pursuit of identifying what neurological components separate elite athletes from regular people. This pursuit has led to his work being featured on networks like ESPN and CNN as well as partnering with Red Bull. By having an understanding in neuroscience, sport psychology and clinical psychology, Dr. Sherlin incorporates techniques which support which psychological and physiological states. He talks about his own process for performance and how he uses certain techniques like reflection and introspection to evaluate his own work/performance. Join us and listen to how this and more have helped Dr. Sherlin’s path in looking for the unknown in various great and brilliant minds.
Here are six ways that athletes can improve their performance:
-- Processing information faster.
-- Improving concentration.
-- Recovering quickly from mistakes.
'"Mike has what we call a very high neurostrength,” says psychologist Dr Leslie Sherlin. “He is really good at being able to engage at a really high level, but his weakness is around the ability to turn that off, either in between sets or between matches. Being able to fully reduce the cortical activity enables maximum recovery.”