A Closer Look Into the Brain of an Athlete: SXSW 2017

By Ashley Simpson
Sports Reporter

In the athletic world, the term “muscle memory” is beginning to take on a whole new meaning. The panel “Unlocking the Brain’s Full Potential in Athletics” at SXSW took a deeper look into the role of the brain in an athlete’s performance.

The panel featured CEO and Cofounder of Halo Neuroscience Daniel Chao, USATF/IAAF Certified Coach Darryl Woodson, Global Dir of Performance Lance Walker and 2 time Olympic Sprinter Natasha Hastings.

The group discussed the importance of repetition of tasks for the brain and how it can affect an athlete’s performance both in practice and in competition.

“Practice is just repetition. The brain needs repetition to learn,” said Chao. “Practice is not free. Practice induces fatigue. It takes time and exposes the athlete to injury.”

The new technology being introduced within Halo Neuroscience is a type of non-invasive brain stimulation known as Neuropriming. Neuropriming increases the excitability of motor neurons in the brain during any type of athletic training. This allows the brain and the body to see more results in a smaller amount of repetitions.

Hastings uses Neuropriming to help with her training and visualization of races and practice.

“As athletes, we are perfectionists. There are some days you go out there and you are mentally exhausted.” said Hastings.  “When coach introduces something new, we want to learn it.”

Although Neuropriming is not the first time sports and technology have clashed, it is an increasing trend in the athletic industry that coaches are starting to consider in the training of their athletes. For Woodson, it’s about the mental preparation and for every athlete.

“We want to build what are positive habits and unlock the ability to overcome anything,” said Woodson.

SXSW 2017 is just getting started and has a long list of panels and sessions planned for this week. You can take a look at the schedule here.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.

Asia Daggs

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