03. Performance

Using Neuroscience For Selecting Your Quarterback

April 7, 2016

When it comes to football, we can all agree that the quarterback is arguably the most important player in the game. This is reflected in everything from their protection on the field to their contract value. However, out of every position in football, there is not one that has quite the gap that the quarterback does in terms of what coaches are looking for and what they can find through the draft.

So, why do teams have such a difficult time finding what they want when drafting new quarterbacks? The main reason is that quarterback talent is so much more than physical performance, which is how QBs are evaluated in each league, starting with peewee football. What separates a good quarterback from a great one, is both physical talent and cerebral talent. The secret to real quarterback talent lies strategically placed between the quarterback’s ears – or rather, in their eyes. So much of what a quarterback does is about perception, processing and reaction. It is about sharp peripheral vision, making quick calls and fast reaction times. All of which are demanding mental skills that take effort to perfect.

If teams were somehow able to quantify a player’s ability to process information, then they would more effectively be able to select the best QB to add to their roster.

NFL MVP and Atlanta Falcons's QB star Matt Ryan testing his situational awareness on NeuroTracker

Perceptual-Cognitive Training

Guess what? There is. NeuroTracker is designed to improve all of these so-called cerebral skills that are often times overlooked when selecting a QB from the draft. NeuroTracker, in its very early stages over two decades ago in the Visual Psychophysics and Perception Laboratory at the University of Montreal, was created to help train seniors to deal with dangerous and often complicated situations such as crossing a busy street. The idea was to improve or enhance raw processing ability and speed.

The results, when tested on athletes, were that they had an inherent ability to process visual cues and to learn at a faster rate than others. Thus, based on the knowledge that athletes perform tasks that rely heavily on visual processing and reaction speeds, the program was able to demonstrate the possibility of improving athletes’ performance on the field. Since then, there have been multiple studies that have shown the transferability of NeuroTracker training to real-life situations, sometimes defined as far-transfer, in other sports. For example, a peer-reviewed study has demonstrated the transferability of NeuroTracker training to the soccer field by demonstrating an improved passing ability, as judged by soccer coaches that were unaware that a study was taking place.

Read the Soccer Transfer Study

If college football and NFL teams were to begin to see the value in neurological and perception training, as few already have, then they would thus see the draft in a new light. One which appreciates an athlete's processing abilities in addition to physical attributes. They would therefore be able to make a more informed decision in selecting great quarterbacks, ones that harbor cerebral and physical talent.

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