For a few years now I had admired from a distance the Neurotracker training tool. I've heard about the vast benefits it provides, but I never got to try it. Today I finally got my chance to get up close and personal with it. This blog series is about my experience doing NeuroTracker and following a program that is designed to help me improve my focus and attention. I’m going to share my experience over the coming weeks, and to see if I can observe a difference in my soccer play, not to mention other intense activities like driving or just other day-to-day activities. I hope that you will enjoy the series and perhaps get to try NeuroTracker yourself in the future. - JLJ
Yesterday I had my second NeuroTracker session, but with an unexpected twist. My six-year-old daughter Juliet joined me, as she had a day off. She has taken a strong interest in rugby because her sister plays it, so having her do NeuroTracker training seemed like a good idea. In rugby, there are 30 players on the field, so a lot of moving objects, plus passes and kicks and funny bounces, not to mention aggressive tacklers coming at you. It's like being a ball inside that NeuroTracker box but with concussion risk!
Juliet went first, with the very patient Lisa on the controls. Lisa explained how it worked, and started Juju out with 1 ball to track, among 8. It took a couple of rounds for Juju to fully understand, for instance she was initially confused that a ball could change its number from one round to the next. But once she got that, within about three minutes, it was smooth sailing.
She completed a full session with one ball, and did super well, figuring it all out and registering a speed of just over 1.4. Lisa then upped her to 2 balls out of 8, and did another full session. Juju improvised her own approach, pointing to the two balls with her two hands, index fingers tracking the balls carefully. A cool tactic but harder with four balls! We joked about that, and she pointed her feet at the screen, simulating the technique she might use. All this underlined the light mood - while her brain was getting a serious workout, she was having lots of fun.
She went all the way through the second session, and ended up with a 2.08 on 2 balls. She had upped her score despite the higher difficulty, clearly improving within that short time. It set the stage for future sessions.
I then took the chair, and Lisa fired up my profile. I willed myself to get off to a strong start, aiming to take advantage of how the program starts relatively slow and then speeds up. I did OK at first, getting a few right in a row, catching up to where I left off. Juliet was watching me do it, seated just within my field of vision to my right. She started doing her tracking technique again, the full hands-and-feet version as meant for four balls. I could see her little hands and feet in my peripheral vision, which was quite distracting. I tried to shut her out but I had a number of passes where I missed a ball or two, so I eventually had to ask her to go sit behind me.
I had tried super hard, but even a very small distraction, like a moving foot at the edge of my peripheral vision, proved to be enough to drag down my performance. This was due to both the visual distraction, where I would take my eye off the screen, however briefly, but clearly also the cognitive distraction in terms of active memory, especially at high speeds - you can see 'em but you can't stay with 'em, you're not focused enough.
It remained somewhat tricky going, as Juliet was making comments or otherwise was audible back there. It still had impact on my focus. I pushed ahead however, doing my best, and capped out at 1.71, close to my previous peak.
Juju was delighted that her score was higher than Papa's, though she did internalize that I had a tougher challenge with four falls to follow to her two. She recounted this story over lunch and dinner to whoever would listen, she was very amused. She was also up for more, bugging me through the day and again today to the next session.
As for me, I did not see an improvement this round, but I learned a lesson about focus. I did not get to that state of focus where my brain was literally buzzing like last time. But I'm reconciled to believing the distraction challenge contributed to a good training. And ready for Round 3!
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