During the last few years there has been a tendency in German football which will soon triumph world-wide in other sports, like hockey. For the first time in decades, football may become the forerunner to other team sports, like hockey, when it comes to achieving better performance levels.
Everyone knows that good levels of knowledge bring considerable advantages in all areas of life. This is not only the case in school and employment, but also in maintaining a reasonable quality of life for generation older than 70.
All organs, especially the muscles, have to be stimulated with specific training optimally and effectively. For decades, we have trained athletes focusing mainly on the heart and other muscles. With time, better performance levels were achieved, which resulted in better results - always higher, further, faster, stronger!
In search for further improvement, psychologists were introduced in the second half of the last century. They helped to unlock the dormant potential of athletes.
In the 90s, technology became the big trend in our daily life and was used in the world of sport. Computer sciences, videos and a great variety of software for performance analysis improved the quality of training and its planning as well as competition performance.
At the start of the new millennium, the least investigated human organ was discovered in sport: the brain. Big companies that were looking for better results showed the sporting world the way. More companies trained employees during work with brain-jogging courses and similar brain stimulating activities to improve individual performance levels as well as company teamwork.
Being told by scientists that the majority of the population is using less than 2% of its brain and that remaining 98% is dormant, there was a demand for unlocking the potential of the brain to get performances. The result of the brain-training was soon seen: more companies produced better results.
Hockey has not ignored this trend. Just as the muscles of the human body, also the brain needs well-measured training.
Through brain-training "the network of neurons” in our head functions better and faster, and creates with different stimuli millions of new connections between the new neurons (the so called synapses) what can only benefit the performance of each athlete.
Since the start of the new millennium, physicians, psychologists and sports teachers have worked hard to provide for sports a variety of stimuli to train the brain.* They were developed for people of all ages from kindergarten to high performance athletes, to professionals and retirees.
Brain-Training in hockey will become a trend to follow as the initial results were very positive and increased the performance of athletes. That is why it has a big future. Well-known football clubs, like TSG 1898 Hoffenheim and Borussia Dortmund have twice a week coaches of “Lifekinetik” for stimulating the brains of their young talents and top stars. Soon brain-jogging will become as important in training as physical or mental fitness. Other football and hockey clubs will follow as well as the most of the public and private schools, hospitals and residences for the older generations.
The objective of this new trend is to promote the performance of our brain and increase the basic functions of the two hemispheres, the creative and the logical parts. It is not only beneficial for mental agility and flexibility, but also for the capacity to concentrate, to process and classify information. New knowledge can be stored better and stay in the long-term memory. Being mentally up to the demands of the complex game of hockey, by producing fewer mistakes, is now possible for all players and can be achieved with little effort.
To summarize: Physical and mental fitness (the basic factors of optimum performance up to now) the capacity and the quality of the brain becomes in the future increasingly important for the hockey players and needs much more attention. Only those whose brain has been trained several times a week with a variety of stimuli can perform well in competition, become more creative and flexible, solve difficult and complex problems and adapt more easily to new situations.
By Horst Wein
The views expressed by the author are soley his own and do not necessarily represent the views of the FIH
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