Sports Performance Training Starts Between Your Ears

I tried everything imaginable in my basketball career to become a gamer. I chewed gum because I thought it gave me confidence and swagger. I wore sweatbands because it made me feel cool. I wore two Power Balance bands on each wrist because I thought it was magically balancing out my magnetic force fields and making me perform better. I took one dribble at the free throw line so I wouldn’t think about the importance of the shot. You name it, I did it but none of it made me a gamer.

That’s because prime time performers are made between the ears. As I write this, I am on Day 10 of Tony Robbins’ Personal Power Audio course and he is talking, in depth, about what I have been teaching for years. The associations you have in your brain will determine exactly how you perform when the lights come on.

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Let me put some science on this for you. The neocortex is the outer layer of the brain. We have the thickest neocortex out of any species on the planet. This is why we are as intelligent as we are. Every input that comes into our brain (all inputs are brought in via our senses) travels up to the cortex and from there, the cortex refers back to your personal history to decide what it should do about the current situation.

Colorful brain

For example, if you see a man run into the room you’re in at this moment with a machine gun, your neocortex will go through its files to find out what that means. It will likely determine that you are in imminent danger. It will react by speeding up your heart rate, shutting down other vital processes and putting you in the fight or flight mode in order to maintain survival.

However, if an infant is in that same room, they may not react at all. They may giggle. That’s because their neocortex is a blank slate. They don’t know if it’s good or bad.

All of these reactions come down to whether or not you perceive a signal to be safe or dangerous. Athletes are going through this process every time they step into their shoes to play their game of choice. During practice, there are far less threatening inputs coming in but once the lights are turned on, fans come into the arena, pressure builds, the coach is yelling and your family is watching, the perceived danger skyrockets. The primetime performers have a neocortex with positive responses to this stimulus. Those who crumble under pressure simply do not. Finding ways to bypass the neocortex just may be the holy grail of sports performance training (right along side single leg stance).

If you want to change your performance, you have to start with your neuro-associations. This is what we have developed at 4A Health. This is the model we have assembled at the genMAX seminar. We spend two days showing you exactly how to change your associations and how you can change your training practices to make sure you are reinforcing the patterns and neuro-associations that make you the athlete or person you strive to be.

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