As part of a collaborative effort, this article is authored by Michael Cummings at Blazepod, a flash reflex training company. Michael can be reached at [email protected].
You may have noticed an overwhelming surge in reaction training systems being used in professional sports as well as rehabilitation therapy. Recently I have seen video ranging from Formula One champion Max Verstappen using these lights to the legendary physiotherapist Kevin Wilk. It seems everyone is drinking the “Flashing Light Kool-aid”… and they might have good reason for it.
The essence of this type of training is complex, but not complicated. The user recognizes a stimulus, processes their next move and then reacts as quickly and accurately as they can. Key words being quick and accurate, as it is easy to quickly make the wrong decision or slowly make the right decision. The secret sauce is in training your physical abilities together with your cognitive abilities.
Combining physical and cognitive activities has positive synergistic effects that exceed the pure addition of the positive effects of cognitive and physical exercises by themselves. (Fabian, et al, 2015) This 1 + 1 = 3 summation for enhancing athletic performance may attribute to the growth in popularity for these types of Smart Lights.
Another reason may be because sport requires the application of cognitive, perceptual and motor skills. One meta-analysis states that “outstanding” athletes were shown to have an enhanced ability to make decisions and extrapolate relevant information from their environment to anticipate future events and outcomes. They also seem to have a more effective visuo-spatial processing and greater selective attention. (Mann, et al, 2007/ Fabian, et al 2015)
These cognitive enhancements coupled with their physical strengths were noted as reasons why they perform better than others. They were able to anticipate their opponents’ intentions quicker, were more accurate and proficient in their decision making, and possessed an unparalleled ability to foreshadow or predict future events and outcomes relative to their lesser skilled counterparts. (Mann, et al, 2007/ Fabian, et al 2015)
These results are consistent with the notion that the use of advanced perceptual cues have been demonstrated to facilitate sport performance by means of aiding in the anticipation of opponent’s actions and decreasing overall response time.