• Kate Allgood

Cognitive sports training: What to look for in a program

Important information for cognitive sports training

If you are thinking about including cognitive sports training into your regime to become the athlete you want, I wanted to outline some things to think about when researching the different options that exist. If you have the capability to do more than one type of program or system then even better, but if you are limited to just one, then choosing the one that will help you reach the goals you have set is important.

1 What research exists for the system you are looking at? You want to make sure that whatever you end up choosing there is plenty of research behind it. A lot of the systems out there that are used by athletes to help them stemmed from other areas such as learning disabilities or other cognitive areas. So you want to make sure that any research that has been done has not only been done in the initial reasoning for the development of the system but also for sports. Then also looking at what did the research measure, what did it help the athletes with? It is important to also look for what is called near or far transfer, which is does what the research show also transfer to things similar to the research as well as not similar. This will show you if training on the system will help with things away from the system, such as your sport.

2. What are you looking to develop in your cognitive abilities to get better at a sport. Is it reaction time? Attention? Focus? Concentration? Working memory? Decision making? Staying calm under pressure? Different systems will train different parts of cognition. So depending on what you are looking to train one system might fit you better.

3. Does the system have assessment capabilities? You want to make sure whatever system you choose is able to assess you at the beginning for your cognitive capacities so your progress can be tracked. We are at a time when this is possible, and good to see. It is great to see when you are progressing, when to make the task more challenging and to learn what impacts your cognitive abilities. For example, if a system measures a specific thing, if you see a dip perhaps you did something to impact you, such as get less sleep, are dehydrated, etc. This is important because then you can start to connect what you need to do to be at your best cognitively when you play your sport.

4. Also look for whether the system is something you need to do at someones office or if there is the ability to do it at home as well. Some of you will have the ability to go to a place where you can utilize the system, whereas others won’t, and if there is no at home version that makes things difficult. It can also be more cost and time effective if there is an at home version. At home versions are also good, because like anything the more you train the better and while you might go somewhere once a week to every other week, in between those times it is beneficial to be able to continue to progress.