Rushing and dragging. As I said last time, being too fast or too slow is no good. Neither is applying too much force or too little. Fluctuating either side of any sort of sensory sweet spot is no good for the jazz drummer in this clip and it's no good for sports performance either.

I mentioned last time that there are now many methods available that claim to be able to tighten up your ability to discern these distinctions for the good of your sport. I have personal experience with many such methods. Some would even say that my services involve such methods.

I want to give you a bit of a lowdown on my thoughts around them.

I'm picking an example based on a few conversations I've had recently - neurofeedback training. For those of you who haven't heard of neurofeedback, my basic northern explanation goes something like this: wear headgear rigged with sensors that can read electrical activity of the brain, watch the electrical activity of your brain in real-time, learn to directly affect that electrical activity by adjusting yourself and becoming aware of what sensations are linked with what sort of brain activity you're doing at any given time.

I will remark here that while I am no expert on neurofeedback, I have a device that I have used successfully with myself and others so I have half a clue.

Neurofeedback is said to be able to train athletes to be more in control of their state of mind for the benefit of their sporting performance. Neurofeedback has been shown to benefit sufferers of various medical conditions and because if its efficacy there has been adopted by certain sports but I admit that I think they are doing what I call "a bit of a reach" meaning there may be some shade of truth in their claims but nothing to match the claims being made. For me it comes down to one reason.

I'll skip across to another example - sports vision training. Attached is a video of me performing some during a project in which I attempted to reach the skill levels of a pro athlete some years back. If you watch the video here (from 3:50 for a minute or two), you will see that I was pretty slow. After a few months of well-designed training from a true specialist and a wonderful man my reaction times and visual acuity dramatically improved. Did having better vision improve my sporting abilities at the time? With a heavy heart, I have to say not noticeably. The training worked but didn't noticeably WORK.

I have delivered two examples of methods that work but don't noticeably work here.

If you go back to our Whiplash clip from the first part of this blog in which the conductor tries to bully the drummer out of rushing and dragging, you will notice that he does this through drumming. He doesn't take little drummer boy off to one side with a metronome and have him count tempo until he gets it right. It all takes place at the drums with the sticks and the lead of the conductor. It takes place in context.

Neurofeedback generally takes place  sat down in front of a monitor with the trainee sat still so as not to create muscular electrical noise that would interfere with the reading of the brain's electrical activity. Out of context.

The sports vision training I've shown here took place at a 2D board hitting lights with my hands, a long way contextually from game of football I was training for.

It's unfortunate that most of the methods that claim to minimise the sporting equivalents of "rushing and dragging" - my methods included at times - find themselves underdelivering purely because they struggle to be integrated into context that allows the gains that can be made through doing them to be usefully transferred as completely as possible.

Why do these methods sometimes struggle to contextualise and what can we do to make the carryover as great as possible? Tune in next time.


Arton "The Drummer Boy" Baleci
Float Sting - Sports Performance and Rehabilitation

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