Preventative Brain Assessments and Training for Basketball
BASELINE TESTING = FUNCTION ASSESSEMENT
Baseline testing provides information about the function of different aspects of your brain. Knowing what level of function a player was prior to an injury, gives a comparison point. Many players may have functional deficits without symptoms prior to an injury. In the event of a concussion in a basketball practice or game any functional deficits noted on examination that were not previously known to have existed, will be incorrectly attributed to the recent injury. Basic ImPACT baselines are an absolute must and a deeper understanding of how well your brain is functioning can be determined with a comprehensive evaluation.
PERFORMANCE = PREVENTION
How your brain is functioning not only will determine how well you play basketball, but will also impact your ability to avoid collisions and influence your rate of recovery in the event of an injury. Peripheral vision, balance and reaction time are all functions of your brain that when functioning at an optimal level can help the you avoid injury.
The research suggests that in the event of a concussion, that anybody with ADHD or dyslexia has a worse prognosis than somebody without this neurobehavioral state. Simply stated, if an area of brain has functional challenges pre-injury and this area is concussed, the outcome or prognosis will likely be worse.
Given that the research supports this for ADHD and dyslexia, it is potentially true for any region with diminished function. Therefore, the logical thing to do is to ensure that we maximize the functional integrity of as many aspects of your brain as possible.
FUNCTION = PERFORMANCE
VISUAL FUNCTION is essential for any basketball player. It only takes a split second of distraction to cause you to miss the ball that was passed to you or to take your eyes off the hoop. When your mind wanders, your eyes also wander. If your mind is locked in, your eyes will be locked in. The more your eyes are locked on to the target, the truer will be your shot.
As a basketball player, your focus needs to be perfect. The FOCUS that is essential for basketball, can be increased with brain based exercises.
When is your ability to block out distractions more important than on a FREE THROW? This is particularly true in high pressure games. As stress goes up, brain focus comes down. As brain focus comes down, the potential distractions increase. The slightest sound or movement can cause your eyes to come off the target and cause you to miss your shot. Additionally, research has shown that brain functions involved in BLOCKING OUT DISTRACTIONS and visualization can increase your shot percentage.
Your dribbling or footwork is like a dance that requires RHYTHM AND TIMING. Rhythm and timing are governed by your brain. Increase the odds of developing smooth, effortless dribbling of the ball and move with grace, quickness and explosive power. Rhythm and timing are also key for lay-ups, jump shots and free throws. Rhythm and timing are functions of your internal clock.
Perfect BALANCE is central to so many aspects of basketball. Balance deficits cause more rolled ankles, missed shots and slower reaction time. How important is balance when when you rolling off another player and quickly spinning? Can you move in one direction better than another? Your brain’s vestibular system controls your balance. If your balance is off, everything is off.
Balance function also relates to stability of your spine, knees and ankles. Injury prevention starts with perfect balance. Additionally, balance with your head and body in all positions, is important for neck stability and consequently concussion prevention.
Motor functions are developed through repetition. You develop these built in motor programs through repetition. However, the area of brain that holds these motor programs is governed, controlled or initiated by other frontal cortex areas. MOTOR PLANNING, MOTOR SEQUENCING, MOTOR INITIATION is the difference between being first off the mark or being caught off guard and slow to react.
In the end, when we are talking about concussions, prevention, performance or brain training, it isn’t an either or situation but rather a continuum of care: