So far in this mini-series, I've talked about “rushing and dragging”, how minimising their sporting equivalents is gold-dust, how new fields have sprung up claiming to be able to do this and how often times I believe such claims to be minimal.

These fields have created methods that improve skills that could positively impact sporting performance but don't deliver to the theoretical extent that they could. As I said in part 2, I believe this phenomenon to be down to a lack of contextualisation of these skills to the sports they are hoping to improve performance in.

Learning to keep count with a metronome is very different to learning to PLAY to count with a conductor leading, after all.

Some of the methods that have been created rely on incredibly detailed knowledge of human functioning and learning along with sophisticated technologies. If we go back to my examples of neurofeedback devices and sports vision training apparatus from part 2, I take my hat off to their creators. I wouldn't have a clue where to start if I wanted to make similar apparatus. I also pointed to something else in part 2. Sometimes the technology, as impressive as it is, at this point in time doesn't do what it ideally would be able to do for maximal results. With neurofeedback devices, there is the key issue of electrical noise created by movement. In a sport like golf, this is an easier issue to address than a sport like rugby. I'm sure that brighter minds than mine are tirelessly working to bridge the gap between what tech can do and what we want from it. It will get there, no doubt.

Some are beginning to bridge the gap. Take this example of cognitive agility training from a guy well-known in the football world. Training very similar skills to the sports vision training I've talked about, this formulation means trainees have to react to visual stimulations from 3D space and react with their feet instead of their hands. Contextually, this is closer to the desired situation and there is still a lot of room for closing this difference gap even further. 

I also guess that some of the technology to address these sorts of issue exists but isn't used because of price. Price of a given technology tends to fall over time so many tech solutions will become more accessible to wider audiences over time.

Given the current level and price of tech, if you are to use any of these sorts of methods, you may be wondering if there are ways that you can boost the transfer to your sport of skills you derive from these methods. Here are some of my ideas on how you can close the gap between contexts for maximum sports performance carry-over:

 

  • Practise your “rushing and dragging” minimisation method immediately before or with minimal gap before your sport. Short term memory has some sort of inverse relationship with time so going at your sport while whatever skills you have just upgraded are as fresh as possible will make transfer into your sports performance easier.

  • Practise your “rushing and dragging” minimisation method in your sports environment or an environment resembling it as much as possible. Did you know that some evidence suggests that people perform better in exams in rooms where they learned the tested material than in other rooms? Our environments are full of contextual triggers that aid us in recognising how to act. The more of these triggers that are commonly present while minimising our rushing and dragging and our sport, the more chance we have of associating our newly-honed skills to our sports performance. How similar does the environment look? Does it smell the same? What's the temperature difference? Are people watching? Am I wearing the same gear?

  • Use conditioning or anchoring to help associate the new skills and context. You've probably heard the tale of Pavlov's discovery of conditioning. He noticed that after a long time of dinging a bell before he fed his dog, a ding alone was enough for his dog to begin salivating. It turns out you can create these associations by design. A distinctive ding of a bell (or something more dignified) regularly when training your new skills can create an association of the two actions. The same bell ding during sports practice can help bring the skills previously associated to dinging the bell to the surface in that environment. There's a little more to it than this simplified version but I hope you get the gist. You may also notice parallels to the contextual triggers mentioned accompanying bulletpoint deux.
     

This isn't an exhaustive list but a solid start with some ideas on how to minimise the sporting equivalents of rushing and dragging using some of the clever technological methods that exist in the sports performance-enhancement field.

Context really is king if you want to play your game to the same level as our Whiplash drummer wants to play his instrument.

Don'r rush or drag. Play on your time.

 

Arton Baleci
Float Sting – Sports Performance and Rehabilitation