Today I’m with Tuck Taylor to discuss mental performance training for athletes. Tuck is a mental performance specialist who actually works with our athletes here at OTA. What I wanted to do today was bring a little more awareness to the subject and Tuck’s brand Neuro Beast. We’ve had a lot of talks behind the scenes about how mental performance training is the next way to level up…
This is for any coach or athlete looking to support their athletic journey even further using his techniques. Here’s how our conversation went:
What is Mental Performance Training?
Basically, mental performance is a two part thing, a dichotomy.
These are your psychological or mental skills and your cognitive ability.
A lot of people hear mental and think of psychology, or anxiety… things like that. We do service that as well and help athletes with pre-game anxiety and different things that are supportive for their mental health. Research has revealed that athletes with slow reaction time and pre-mature fatigue, might have brains that are overwhelmed and can’t process the game.
We worked with some star athletes recently in the NBA, Olympics, and found that when there’s so much going on your brain can’t process everything and this interrupts the cognitive process that you’re looking to accomplish. Once this is interrupted, we’ll see that athletes are working a lot harder than they need to be and won’t be as present.
How can mental performance training improve your game?
One thing we do is work to expand our athletes’ cognitive capacity so they can handle stimulus better. In a sense, we’re upgrading the processor in their brain.
This works to make an athlete…
- Have a faster reaction time
- Display better impulse control
- Use better decision making
There’s a lot of noise in the industry, what’s the right process?
In the same way that I have my athletes work through an off-season program progressively, Tuck has a precise program based off research to help you improve your mental in any game:
Tuck: “There’s a lot of parallels to what I do with strength and conditioning as far as progressive overload and things like that…
Mental Performance Training Process:
PHASE 1: Eyes
Similar to a warm-up, we start our training with the eyes. This is the window to the brain that relays all the information you’re visually taking in, to the occipital lobe. If your eyes aren’t working properly, the brain won’t get the right information.
There’s a couple tools we use to do this including the brock string which is a popular device to work on divergence and convergence. We also work on a hand-eye skill to work on processing and focus on visual information.
PHASE 2: Eyes and Hands
Next we link the eyes and hands through more hand-eye coordination using tennis balls. Always start at a basic level before progressing to something more advanced.
PHASE 3: Eyes and Feet
Next we involve the feet or work on eye-feet coordination.
One of the most popular drills for this is known as the dot drill using different dots and colors on the ground. A program or coach tells you which color to step on. After this we’ll move into some more dynamic work where we might superset two drills back to back so there’s more movement patterns to go through. This helps the athlete to go through their decision making abilities.
To hear the rest of our conversation check out this video with me and Tuck: Mental Performance Training for Athletes
Overall I think it’s extremely important to understand that these drills which most athletes and coaches just run through as a warm-up, actually have the potential to build up your agility fundamentals to a whole new level. Looking to pair this with an agility workout? Check out these fundamentals.
By adding volume and doing high-quality, intense movement you can see results in your change of direction and overall speed as you move around on the field. When you lay a strong foundation, you’ll have crazy results when you start adding in more elements like multi-directional agility and plyometrics.
If you’re interested in a full agility program, make sure to check out the link down below: Game Speed Agility is one of my best selling programs to elevate athletes from all levels.