Body Brain Boot Camp by Brain Centers NWWritten By: David Burns
A few of the Gunners’ teams will go through an introductory training program over the next few weeks prior to Regionals. I want to use this blog to communicate some of the things we have been doing and why. Please feel free to post questions.
Let’s start by clarifying that I am not a soccer coach. As a matter of fact, I barely played the sport. However, I’ve played a lot of other sports and understand the mindset needed at a competitive level. My background is the brain. I’ve been working with brain injuries for close to a decade now. The functional neurology concepts that I have applied in a clinical setting will applied to help those with “normal function” achieve higher level function. For a glossary of terms and concepts see:
The general analogy is brain as “muscle”. Just like muscle, the brain needs to be challenged to become stronger. We all understand that each of our body muscles needs different exercises to help them grow. That is, we don’t do the same exercise for our bicep as we do for our hamstring. Likewise, if we consider brain as a bunch of unique “muscles”, it too needs to be challenged in various ways with different exercises.
I will run two or three different exercises over the next few weeks. I will challenge mental and physical simultaneously. Now just like you would with a gym workout, I will add “mental” weight to the bar as they get stronger. To grow, the system has to be appropriately challenged or stressed.
One concept that is being introduced is “dual tasking”. In a clinical setting you might give a patient a mental challenge while watching for physical changes. This test serves as a “window” into brain function (see various blogs about “windows”). The field training will also involve dual tasking, as well as triple and even quadruple tasking.
If they are performing their soccer skills or other physical skills while they are performing various mental challenges their learning, their brain function, will be increased. Moreover, in the same way that a batter might warm up with two bats, we are practicing at higher than normal levels of mental duress. If they can build this “mental” muscle over the next few months they are likely to hit more “home runs”.
Some of the other “muscles” that will be challenged over the coming weeks and months will include: spatial orientation, left vs. right directions, mental math, recall of nouns, verb usage for specific movement perception activation, balance system muscles (i.e. vestibular ocular response), visual tracking “muscles”, gait muscles (running), verbal and design memory, visualization muscles and muscles for changing motor sets. I won’t be able to get everything in over the next few weeks but for those interested this program will continue over the summer and for those that want even more there will be an intense MVP program also available.