02. Experts Corner

How to Become Unstoppable in Sports

September 23, 2022

The athletic brain is an efficient brain. Whether it is a last-minute game winner or a breakout performance, training athletes to enhance their ability to thrive in the moment is the difference between good and great. Here we’ll share our approach at NeuroAthletes, where we specialize in providing robust cognitive training using the latest neurotechnologies.

The Missing Link in Modern Performance Enhancement

We first created NeuroAthletes because we noticed something missing in the youth sports market while coaching our own children.  As previous athletes ourselves, we became aware of some of the challenges youth athletes face in the 21st century world competitive sports.

These include factors such as travelling with teams at much younger ages, an increase in general anxiety, and particularly less focus and attention and social confidence from growing up in the digital age.

Looking for solutions for these challenges, we researched and tried a variety of modern training options. We found that the domain that stood head and shoulders above the rest was cognitive training, and we loved the results we got. Although a relatively new approach, this makes perfect sense. Many experts claim that sports is 80% mental, yet traditionally, brain functions have rarely been trained under a sports science methodology. Instead, most training is dominantly physical fitness or skills based.

From discovering this missing link in athletic performance conditioning, we now specialize in combining physical and mental training to help athletes go from good to great.

Framing the Brains of Tomorrow’s Champions  

The difference between an average athlete and an elite athlete lies in their mental performance capacities. Research even shows that heighted cognitive abilities are likely the best predictive measure of world-class athletes, compared to sub-elite athletes.

The great news is that the brain is far more adaptable and responsive to focused training than what the body is. Through harnessing our in-built neuroplasticity, the brain can literally rewire itself overnight

So, the key takeaway is that mental performance is a skill set you can train and develop just like any other fundamental sports skill, and the benefits can be reaped surprisingly rapidly. For example, a soccer study showed that just a 3-hour intervention of distributed cognitive training reduced passing-decision making errors by a massive 40%.

Just like strength and conditioning or sports science revolutionized athletic performance, cognitive training will become the go-to tool for framing the brain of tomorrow’s champion.

The Mental Skills Athletes Need to Develop in Order to Excel

Most athletes and coaches underestimat just how much sports rely on high-level visual and cognitive skills. For instance, in team sports like hockey and soccer, players spend only a tiny fraction of game time actually in possession of the puck or ball. Most of their performance is dictated by having the situational awareness and rapid processing skills to know where to be, at the right moment. Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky summed up it perfectly.

I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.

When we tie it all together specific to performance in a team sport, we know that player decisions rely heavily on rapidly changing scenes, and players must be able to process and recognize situations in order to find out the most effective play among all conceivable choices, often on extremely short timescales.

This ability can be broken down into a 4-stage process.

This perception-to-action loop requires mental muscle like working memory, planning, reasoning, and creativity. Additionally, this process needs to be flexible enough to be dynamic. Players will often need to make a rapid decision to cancel an intended play, to instead decide on a new play based on changing information and cues. This requires inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility and problem solving.

Next we’ll cover some of the equipment and neurotechnologies we utilize to take this human performance domain to the next level.

Applied Cognitive Training Techniques

At NeuroAthletes our first step is always an extensive assessment of each individuals’ spectrum of visual capacities. Rather than asking the question will vision training work for a given individual, we ask ''how do we make it work the best for the individual?''

Just as the physical demands of different sports vary, likewise do the visual and cognitive demands (though most coaches rarely take this into account). For this reason, we give athletes complete insight into the visual and cognitive skills we assess, which allows us to optimize our performance programs according to very specific needs.

Although we are regularly scouting the latest innovations on the market, here are some tried and tested technologies we have had great success with.


NeuroTracker uses 3D multiple object tracking to rapidly train-up visual processing skills and situational awareness. In addition it provides scientific baselines to assess each player's on-going cognitive abilities.

Switchedon® Pro

A tool for Perceptual Cognitive Motor (PCM) training, Switchedon is designed to improve physical and cognitive performance simultaneously, in ways that transfer to competition.

SMARTfit® Strike Pods

This system of visual-cognitive-motor training helps athletes to compete in an elevated state of physical performance and mental concentration, which can be used to target sport specific hand-eye or foot-eye skills.

TRX RIP Trainer

The TRX system allows full body movement and strengthening using relative body weight to build-up core stability, balance, power and flexibility through rotational and asymmetrical movements.

KBands Training

This plyometric workout equipment effectively builds dynamic power to increase an athlete's verticals, explosiveness, and reaction time.

Of these tools, NeuroTracker has become core in all our training. Not only does it allow us to boost visual skills and train 3D depth perception, the cognitive metrics it delivers mean we can track how our athletes are developing at the level of the brain. As such it used by many elite performance teams such as Redbull F1, Boston Red Soxs, and Washington Capitols to name a few.  

The Benefits of Training the Neurophysical Dimension of Sports

We help train the brain, improve reaction time, improve focus, mental accuracy, sensory processing and other neurocognitive attributes. Here are some of the performance gains we see from our overall training programs.

• Processing information faster

• Recovering quickly from mistakes

• Improved situational awareness

• Increased attention span

• Maintaining composure under pressure

• Better motor accuracy skills

• Faster footwork, ball speed and control

• Heightened speed and agility

• Reduced reaction times

• More efficient action execution

• Enhanced core balance

In addition, the skills we improve are also a first line of defense against injury on the field. Athletes become more adept at recognizing and avoiding injury threats such as as aggressive tackles, particularly through expanded peripheral vision.


Just like you can train your body to develop the proper technique to dribble a basketball or throw a pitch, you can train your mind to become more focused, resilient, and confident. This won’t happen by accident, but as we’ve found at NeuroAthletes, training your mind intentionally with consistency and structure is a great recipe for success.

Applying neurotechnologies and equipment already on the market today, athletes can be empowered to become both physically and mentally ready to perform. Maximize training to think faster, react smarter and perform better under pressure is achievable with neurophysical conditioning.

If you’d like to learn more about our approach and the specific performance programs we offer, check out our website.


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