The human body is an absolute phenomenon! It can survive in cold weather as well as in hot weather, it can understand complex situations, is able to adapt and can be trained to get faster, stronger, fitter or more functional.
We know that when we train in a gym and progress the weights the muscle will grow. Different exercises will trigger the muscular structures to get better for different movements, run faster, jump higher or prevent injuries. It is a very clear structure and method to train the human body on the physical side.
But the question is: Is this enough to get better?
Let’s have a look at three different systems:
- the eyes
- the inner ear
- the proprioception
All three systems are very closely connected to our brain and they are responsible for all kinds of movements, daily activities and of course all kinds of decision making processes.
When we are not increasing the weights in the gym or trigger the muscle with different exercises the muscle will not grow or will not improve in function. If we stop weight training or get really inactive our body will decrease in muscle mass, good functional movements and we are at a higher risk of injuries or joint wastage.
The same is true for our brain and therefore brain training is essential in all kinds of sports and for daily activities as well.
Often in the setup of training sessions we see the same routine or the same order of exercises, drills or kinds of games. Of course, it’s very important to meet the objectives of the game or the qualities of the sport but stereotypical training will not challenge the athletes or make them better. Maybe their physical side is adapting but their cognitive abilities are still on the same level.
If an athlete can run fast or even faster than his direct opponent doesn’t mean automatically that he is the better athlete. He will be the better athlete when he can run faster, perceive faster, react faster, execute and deliver faster than his direct opponent! The physical development is very important but the training of our 100 billion brain cells is the true potential.
Coaches shouldn’t train only the physical abilities they must train the brain as well! The sport science showed that certain coordinative exercises have a positive impact on brain development and certain physical exercises help to create new nerve cells in the hippocampus, which facilitates storage of memory.
But it is important to create new drills instead of using the same drills all the time. It is important to change the overall setup instead of always using the same drill size or shape. It is important to change the rules of the game or define new rules how to play the game, e.g. how many times a player can touch the ball during the drill. The important fact in new setups is that the brain, the athlete’s perception, the balance system and the proprioception are challenged.
If the training setup is always the same, the result will always be the same result. Coaches can’t expect different results or improved athletes by not changing the setups! The brain and all connected systems are activated when a new trigger is involved, a new situation appears. Therefore, in the development of young and adult athletes it is crucial as well to change their daily training routines, especially in the modern world of smart phones and tablets were the perception is stimulated and effected by a one-dimensional-world.
The demands in the modern world of sport are changing permanently, the games are played faster, the decision-making progresses must be faster and more accurate than before. Athletes are facing more new situations in a competitive match than they trained in tactical or technical sessions. They must be prepared to make decisions and adjust to the demands of the game.
Coaches who only train athletes’ bodies and not their brains will not be as successful in the future because the variety of demands is getting bigger and more specialised. The creative changes in the planning of training will be the key to future success.