fbpx

Secret Weapon: Neuro Training in the NBA

In our latest YouTube video, Reflexion takes a trip to Denver to chat with one of the NBA’s top performance directors, Felipe Eichenberger. We learned exactly how he is using Reflexion to give his athletes an edge on the court. 

Felipe is the head strength and conditioning coach for the Denver Nuggets. Having been with the Nuggets for the better of 12 seasons, he knows a thing or two about fitness and performance optimization. Implementing a training protocol that sets his athletes up for championship titles is no easy feat, and going that extra mile is just the standard. The Edge serves as an effective “secret weapon” for the Denver Nuggets – one that is changing the game big time. 

Neuro training takes advantage of the body’s natural inclination to adapt while under fatigue. By training the mind in tandem with the body, an athlete is able to make simultaneous strength and mental gains. Felipe describes utilizing the Edge as a way to improve his athlete’s performance in a way that “no one else is doing”.

 

He explains, “We are lifting heavy weights. We are consistently in the weight room. We are doing all those things. What are we missing? And that was the brain.” In the NBA, everybody’s got skill. The question is, how long can you maintain that level of skill, without making mistakes, while you’re under physical and mental stress? That’s where neuro training comes in. Mental clarity, decision-making speed, and awareness under fatigue are crucial assets to a well-played game – and the players are witnessing the benefits firsthand. 

Right now, the Edge gives the Nuggets a unique advantage when it comes to mental training. But Felipe believes that neuro training is the future and that it should be incorporated into NBA teams’ programs at large. “Teams should train the proper way, and I do think using the Edge board is training the proper way… Using Reflexion over the last year has helped us to achieve a lot more than what we have in the past.” 

To see more about how the Nuggets are using the Edge, watch our latest YouTube video.

The Hierarchy of Human Performance

This newsletter series is sent monthly, stay up to date by subscribing here.

What’s a trainable skill, versus what are you born with?

If we treat human performance like a pyramid, the bottom level is inherited human physiology. This would be the foundation for any specific ability and varies from person to person.

At this bottom level, genetics plays the lead role – some people are born with larger bone structure and sharper eyes, and this can give them an advantage from an early age.

Intuitively, this makes sense. Naturally good eyes will give you an advantage as you rank up through leagues. A publication found major league MLB players to have slightly better visual acuity (20/12) than minor leaguers, and much better acuity than the general population (20/20).

As you climb the pyramid, you enter abilities that are trainable. That includes areas such as muscle mass, cardio endurance, and eye-hand coordination. They’re improved with weight training, cardio training, and neuro training, respectively. This mid-tier level is where Reflexion trains neuro skills.

Let’s Talk Real World

One step above that is sport or action specific tasks – hitting a baseball, shooting a basket, and serving a tennis ball are all examples. These are skills that have specific techniques and require practice.

For example, the best way to learn bowling is to… bowl. No surprises there.

It’s why many athletes can switch easily between sports. Shooting a basketball doesn’t make you good at volleyball, but they both require excellent eye-hand coordination. If you’re good enough at one, you can probably pick up the other relatively easily.

An Example in Baseball

So how do cognitions play into the real world?

Last December, we had Dr. Dan Laby on one of our podcast episodes. He’s a very well respected researcher in the sports vision space, and the author of the MLB visual acuity paper referenced above. Here’s what he had to say on vision training’s impact on the field.

“Having a faster reaction time doesn’t mean you’re going to swing at more pitches or swing the bat faster. What it seems to mean from the data is that it gives you the option to sit back a little bit more, to see more of the pitch…[and] to make a better decision. Is this [pitch] the ball you want to hit, or can you let it go?

And so we see people that have these faster reaction times actually allow more strikes, because they’re waiting for the right pitch. Now they don’t strike out, in fact they walk more…but if they have the count in their favor, and this pitch isn’t exactly where they want to hit it, they’ll take the strike.”

The Research Gap

Knowing where neuro training fits into this hierarchy is important for understanding how it will translate to the real world, and why there isn’t more research in this space yet.

Trying to analyze how neuro training improves on-field performance is like trying to determine how bench press translates to QB sacks for a lineman. Very few would argue bench press isn’t an important exercise, but scientifically proving and showing that sort of relationship is a challenging task.

The Takeaway

When looking at ways to improve human performance, sport-specific tasks represent only a portion of an athlete’s opportunity. Fundamental abilities related to strength, cardio, and neuro all offer ways to train.

And as the neuro training and assessment industry grows, more research will be needed to better validate its effectiveness and reliability, and we hope to be a leader in this field.

If you’re interested in seeing some of the research supporting neuro training now, including topics beyond just sports, take a look at this database we put together.

Not signed up for the newsletter? Do so here.

Flex your MIND and your MUSCLES!

When you think about fitness, images of cardio and weightlifting exercises come to mind, but that’s only half of the picture. At Reflexion, true holistic fitness means training the mind with as much fervor and dedication as the body. That’s how you optimize yourself to achieve your full functioning potential. 

It just so happens that the brain is most primed for an effective workout when the body is under physical stress as well. That’s why in our latest YouTube video, Steven and Tyler break down exactly how the Edge can be incorporated into a workout – even with more than one person.

Neuro training is critically important for razor-sharp mental function. This is especially true for athletes. Sports demand fast, complex, and strategic decision-making, all while being subject to considerable physical stress. Think of a soccer player running down the field, analyzing defensemen, or a winded wide receiver needing to catch the ball. The EDGE can be an invaluable addition to any routine, optimizing the mind for reliable function during these high-stress moments.

Whether you play a sport or not, neuro training provides an outlet for the brain to improve upon its clarity and sharpness during times of elevated fatigue – something that’s hard to replicate in any other training setting. With a wide array of mind-flexing drills and challenges, it’s easy to create a protocol with the EDGE that compliments your physical workout. 

In a cardio context, you can allow your partner to complete the EDGE drills, while you get your heart pumping with workouts like box jumps, jump rope, lunge jumps, or sprints. Once the time is up, switch positions and experience the dizzying challenges of “Minefield” and “Waterfall” – two of the EDGE’s most challenging games. In the weight room? Incorporate the drills “Expanding Out” and “Pursue” for a super set like you’ve never experienced before. 

The long and short of it is: 

The EDGE provides a total training experience that pushes your brain and body to places no regular gym ever has. Check out our latest video to see it in action!

The Science of Neuro Training, For Dummies | Newsletter Issue 2

This newsletter series is sent monthly, stay up to date by subscribing here.

The brain communicates like a complex, interstate highway system. When the brain wants to make a decision or take action, signals travel through this network like messenger cars carrying instructions.

Just like travel in real life, the shorter and more efficient the brain’s highway system is between regions, the better and faster communication happens.

One of the most incredible facts about the brain is its ability to reshape this highway network, also known as neuroplasticity. That’s when the brain makes adaptive changes to itself (structural and functional) in response to intrinsic or external stimuli.

Beyond the technical definition, it’s something we experience every day and is basic enough in its application- if you order food at a restaurant and it’s bad, your brain knows not to go back!

In order to get a broader understanding of how neuroplasticity works in sports and training, it’s easiest to understand it in the context of injuries.

Neuro Rehab & Injury Recovery

Neuroplasticity was originally researched in relation to brain injuries, and is what’s allowed for the development of neuro rehabilitation.

When an injury to the brain occurs, like a stroke or concussion, picture a traffic jam in the highway system. With the existing path blocked due to the injury, the brain will naturally create a detour around the damaged area, allowing operations to continue. The tradeoff is that it uses a slower and less efficient route.

This automatic rewiring is an incredible adaptation of the brain, but even after the brain heals the damage to that highway network, the brain will not return to using the original, better communication path.

By now, the brain doesn’t care that it’s less efficient, it sticks to the working path that it reformed after the injury.

Using the right exercises and techniques, neuroplasticity can be used like Waze or Google Maps, creating the quickest and most efficient path to navigate that highway system. That’s how a medical professional can rehabilitate the brain to use faster routes, like it did prior to injury.

Practice Makes… Better

That’s how neuro rehab works, but even for a healthy individual, there’s no such thing as a perfect brain. Neuro training takes the same principles and offers the potential to optimize the communication networks within the brain.

A shorter and more efficient pathway means increasing the speed and efficiency in which you make decisions and take action. For an athlete, that can provide a competitive edge versus their peers.

There are different forms of neuro training (that we’ll cover in future newsletters), but all of them operate around this same principle of training and changing the brain pathways to respond faster and more efficiently.

The Takeaway

Whether the goal is to recover an injured patient to normal, or train an athlete to respond more efficiently, the basic principles of neuro training are the same. Optimizing communication between different parts of the brain will result in faster, more efficient decisions and actions.

Not signed up for the newsletter? Do so here.

Launch of the Reflexion Newsletter

Reflexion has launched newsletter, where we advance the education behind neuro training and highlight trends in the world of sports vision.

Our mission is to make neuro training mainstream at all levels of athletics, not just with the pros or elites. A lofty task, but one that we believe is already well under way.

A Trend In Our Training Habits

Among sports scientists, it’s been well understood for decades that visual and cognitive training (shortened down to neuro training) can improve on-field performance.

But the technology available for this is either far too simple – like bouncing a colored tennis ball – or far too complex – like requiring specialized staff for one-on-one instruction. It’s time someone filled the void to offer neuro training capable of integrating into any workout.

It’s part of a trend that goes well beyond just sports. The brain is finally getting the attention it deserves in performance, whether it be through conversations like

Problems In A Developing Market

The issue with a developing market is it leaves questions among the populus as education lags behind. Questions like

  • How does neuro training work? What’s effective vs what’s a gimmick?
  • How can I integrate neuro training into other workouts?
  • What are the different kinds of neuro training?

 

It’s our goal to not only provide the best neuro training products available on the market, but simultaneously cultivate a higher level of understanding behind this industry. This newsletter will answer these questions, and many more.

The Takeaway

What started out as a niche development for pro athletes – vision and cognitive training – has grown in popularity over the last decade, and is starting to take shape as a more developed practice.

Now known as neuro training, this fits into an athlete’s workout in a similar way to strength, agility, or cardio training. It’s all part of a holistic approach aimed at maximizing performance.

But as interest in neuro training grows, so does the demand for information and research surrounding it.

Beyond offering powerful products to improve the implementation of that training, Reflexion’s mission is to increase the understanding of this industry as a whole. This newsletter is one small step in that direction.

Sign up for the newsletter here.

Reflexion Begins Testing MLB Draft Prospects

Reflexion Begins Testing MLB Draft Prospects

On Sunday, June 26th, 2022, the Pittsburgh Pirates were finishing up a 3-game series against the Rays in Tampa Bay. While they were out of town, 3 members of the Reflexion team entered PNC Park to embark on our first official service agreement with the MLB’s Draft Operations Dept. 

It was Pro Day for the MLB Draft League summer collegiate baseball athletes. Each year, MLB sponsors 2 collegiate baseball leagues, consisting of elite college players who have been identified by scouts and are expected to eventually be selected in the MLB Draft.

Testing was performed on roughly 140 athletes in a 7-hour window and everyone hopped on their respective buses to reach their hotel destination where they would play the next day. A glimpse of what life will be like climbing the minor league ranks of whichever club drafts them…

Measurements were recorded on height, weight, wingspan & hand size. A dynamometer was used to assess grip strength in both an outstretched arm at shoulder height and overhead arm positions. VALD force plates measured vertical jump and ground force reaction pressure, then athletes filtered over to Reflexion to complete the indoor testing stations. Outdoor activities were primarily hitting & fielding.

Reflexion got on MLB’s radar after Dr. Dan Laby (sportsvision.nyc) conducted research, correlating Reflexion scores to on-field metrics, such as batting average, swing-strike percentage, on-base percentage, errors, and triples. Data for that study was collected on players who had already been drafted. This pro day event was the first opportunity to expand this talent identification model in pre-draft athletes, in hopes of identifying athletes whose cognitive skills already operate at a major league level.

Most are familiar with the NFL Combine, a multi-day event where prospective draft picks are tested in a battery of physical measurements and on-field drills. This event has occurred annually since 1982 and historical data can show a relationship between size, strength, and speed to elite performance in the NFL for every position on the field.

A “Pro Day” is somewhat of an abbreviated combine, where everything takes place in a single day and the selection of testing is reduced to what is “essential only”.  Test results are then compiled and distributed to all 30 MLB clubs, where data analysts & scouts view the overall physical & cognitive performance of an athlete.

This is only the 2nd year the MLB has started collecting official data in combine and pro day testing, so historical data does not exist yet. Therefore, deciding if an athlete is exceptional, average, or has a deficiency is somewhat of an art form.

In the absence of historical information, the MLB decided to bring in a series of experts in each piece of technology used in the testing. Around 20 independent contractors were on-site to ensure unbiased testing, comprised of former major league and minor league strength coaches, sports medicine specialists, and technology partners.

Going for the Gold With the Valencias and the Reflexion Edge

Finding ways to support outstanding athletic performance can be challenging. At Reflexion, we designed the Edge and the Flex to provide real help in developing the cognitive and perception skills needed by top athletes. The Reflexion team recently had the chance to visit with the Valencia family in Morgan Hill, California to learn how the Edge is helping Nyla and Aden Valencia pursue their athletic goals more effectively.We caught up with Joel Valencia at his home to discuss his approach to parenting and training the two elite athletes in his family. Aden and Nyla both won titles in the U.S.A. Wrestling High School National Showcase in March 2021. This led directly to invitations to serve as warmup partners to competitors who were vying for their own spots in the Tokyo Olympic Games. Nyla is a two-time national champion and a silver medalist at the Pan American Games, while Aden is a U15 world champion in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling. Joel serves as one of their trainers and has put the neuro-training capabilities of the Edge to work in helping both young athletes to achieve their full potential.Wrestling requires both physical strength and cognitive skills to reach the highest levels of competition. Joel explained that, along with the strength training and other physical conditioning equipment available to Nyla and Aden, the Reflexion Edge provides the reaction training necessary to respond quickly during wrestling competitions. By using the Edge in the home training setting, both Aden and Nyla can improve their reaction times while enhancing their hand-eye coordination and their cognitive skills. Joel and the Valencia siblings both attribute a portion of their success to their neuro-training regimen with the Reflexion Edge.At Reflexion, we are pleased to contribute to the success of Nyla and Aden Valencia in the wrestling field. We offer advanced neuro-training solutions that include the Edge and the Flex. These systems can help athletes achieve the best performance and are ideally suited for building cognitive strength during the physical training process.To learn more about how Reflexion can make great athletes even better, visit us online or call us at 402-525-3789. You can also reach us at [email protected] to request more information. The Reflexion team is here to help you achieve the best results for all your athletic endeavors.

 

 

Life Long Wellness and Reflexion: A Winning Combination for Athletes and Patients Alike

At Reflexion, we appreciate our customers and the ways in which they use our Flex and Edge products to promote improved cognitive skills. We recently had the opportunity to touch base with the team at Life Long Wellness, a valued client of Reflexion and a leading source for chiropractic, acupuncture, and Reflexion neuro-training services in the Salt Lake City area.Life Long Wellness takes a holistic approach to wellness and physical health. With two of our Flex systems and an Edge system in place for clients, the team at Life Long Wellness can create real synergy by combining acupuncture, massage, chiropractic treatments, and nutritional services with the neuro-training made possible by Reflexion systems. This can allow patients of Life Long Wellness to enjoy the benefits of holistic care in a professional setting.Life Long Wellness incorporates technological solutions like the Flex and Edge systems alongside the ancient and proven techniques of acupuncture, chiropractic and massage therapies. The facility is located just 15 minutes north of Salt Lake City in Kaysville, Utah, and is owned and operated by Dr. Jason Atkinson, a licensed chiropractic physician, and board-certified acupuncturist. Life Long Wellness caters to the extreme sports enthusiast as well as everyday individuals seeking help in maintaining fitness and wellness.Many of the patients at Life Long Wellness are looking for an integrated solution that treats both the mind and the body. The Reflexion systems in place at the facility are used to augment chiropractic and acupuncture treatments to assist in faster healing and to improve the cognitive skills that contribute to physical healing. In particular, the Flex system by Reflexion is used by staff members to assess cognitive skills of new patients. This allows Life Long Wellness to tailor a treatment and fitness plan specifically for each patient they see. By engaging the mind with Flex and Edge, the team at Life Long Wellness can boost the power of the human brain and central nervous system to promote the body’s own ability to heal itself.Reflexion specializes in providing technologically advanced neuro-training equipment that can help health care providers and fitness trainers to engage their clients more fully. To learn more about the Reflexion Edge or Flex systems, contact us today at 402-525-3789. You can also reach us by email at [email protected] or through our website. At Reflexion, we are committed to helping people achieve their highest potential with neuro-training solutions that promote better physical and cognitive health.

A Holistic Approach to Fitness From Reflexion and Mindful Barbell

The Reflexion team recently met with Jonathan Speakman, the owner of Mindful Barbell in Santa Barbara, California. Mindful Barbell is the first facility in Santa Barbara to integrate Reflexion’s neuro-training tools and technology into its training regimen. We were happy to meet with Jon to see how he is implementing the Flex to build mental strength alongside physical strength in the training environment for his clientele.

By taking a holistic approach to all aspects of physical and mental strength, Jon and the Mindful Barbell team can produce outstanding results for older clients. The Reflexion Flex is an easy and engaging way to train cognitive processes and develop hand-eye coordination and decision-making skills. Mindful Barbell uses the Reflexion Flex as part of its overall personal training program for older clients to help them stay physically and mentally healthy.The integration of mind and body into the training process can make a big difference in the results achieved by older adults. The drills included with the Flex system are designed specifically to improve skills necessary for outstanding achievement in the athletic field. Jon uses Reflexion’s neuro-training systems to help clients in the prime of their lives to stop thinking consciously and start reacting, which can allow them to build cognitive strength at the same time they are improving their physical strength. The Flex can help older adults to maintain their cognitive health while staying active and fit.During our visit with Jon, we had the chance to meet with some of his satisfied clients at Mindful Barbell. They reported that one of the greatest advantages of the Flex system is that it is fun to use. This results in much greater engagement and improved experiences for Jon’s clients, which translates directly into increased strength both of mind and of body. For older clients, this can be a valuable tool in improving and preserving their fitness and cognitive skills.

At Reflexion, our goal is to provide the best tools and products for our clients. We serve personal trainers like Jon at Mindful Barbell as well as individuals interested in staying mentally fit at home. To learn more about the Flex and how it can help keep minds sharp and agile during the physical training process, call Reflexion today at 402-525-3789 or email us at [email protected]. We are here to provide practical holistic options for your own training regimen or that of your clients.