Brain Assessments and Training for Tennis Players
BASELINE TESTING = FUNCTION ASSESSEMENT
Baseline testing provides information about the function of different aspects of your brain. A player could be completely without symptoms and doing well in their sport but asymmetries in brain function can be what is holding them back from achieving a still higher level of play. Focus, timing, rhythm and balance are key brain functions that will determine how well you perform. 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.
FUNCTION = PERFORMANCE
VISUAL FUNCTION is essential for any tennis player. It only takes a split second of distraction to cause you to lose track of the ball. 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 better you will be able to hit the ball. Quick eye movements, eye tracking and visual fixation are all visual functions that are governed by the brain and will make the difference between an ace for you, or if diminished function, an ace for your opponent.
The FOCUS that is essential for all tennis players can be increased with brain based exercises. As brain focus comes down, distractions increase. Impulse control decreases. The slightest sound or movement can cause the eyes to come off the target causing a fault or failure to return the ball.
The ability to BLOCK OUT DISTRACTIONS is key for any competitive tennis player. The movement of the other players, any crowd noise, a flickering light or a host of other factors, can distract a player. Impulse control and your ability to attend, is key to attaining “point, set, match”.
A tennis players footwork, which is central to appropriate ball contact, requires RHYTHM AND TIMING. Rhythm and timing are governed by your brain. The coordination, speed and quickness of the feet are dependent on the functional level of the brain.
Perfect BALANCE is central to solid contact of the ball. How quickly a tennis player can move laterally, lunge forward or back peddle is fully dependent on brain functions associated with balance (i.e. vestibular system).
Balance function also relates to stability of your spine, knees and ankles. Injury prevention starts with perfect balance. 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 practice. 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 getting off your mark quickly, or being caught off guard and slow to react?
Above all else, DECISION MAKING is what makes a tennis player reach their maximum potential. The ability of a player to analyze their options and potential moves or counter moves while under pressure, is crucial to the success of any player. Content and speed of processing can be measured and conditioned.