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From Director of Goalkeeping Amanda Raso

NSCAA Convention - Tiffany Jones – Brain Endurance Training

by Amanda Raso

Sports illustrated posted an article a few months ago that stated: sports can place more stress on the brain than any other activity. Tiffany’s interpretation is that the combination from the demand of the sport and lack of sleep creates high emotional stress. Now let’s add the addition of social pressure, hormones, school, parents/siblings, and/or other sports on top of just soccer and we can only imagine what kids are going through by the time they arrive to practice. With that being said it’s important for us as coaches to focus on developing them as soccer players as a whole but also to spend time helping them develop their brains…

You want to emphasize the power of the mind which can in turn enhance performance on the soccer field. Brain Endurance Training was created as an opportunity to physically tax athletes in attempt to train the brain. The objective is to get your athletes physically exhausted and then make them complete a cognitive task. Throughout the exercise, you want players to be aware of negative self-talk, doubt, stress, but learn to change the way they think about it and learn to overcome it. You as a coach can’t make them feel better or worse IF they don’t let you, and you can use these moments to teach them. You can empower your athletes to focus on controlling their minds and thoughts especially when faced with adversity so that they can push through and succeed.

The activity at the NSCAA Convention was this: she had an entire team circled up around a bunch of soccer specific words that were face down. The objective was to play memory. So, one athlete could flip over two papers to try and match the words. There was absolutely no talking. Here’s the thing, if anyone said anything, 10 burpees. If someone didn’t match a previously turned over word, 10 burpees. Until all words were flipped and matching. Seems simple? Well after 3 or 4 mistakes the athletes have done 40 burpees and it’s easy to start getting mad at your teammates or forget what your neighbor just flipped over because you are trying to catch your breath. So, you have to really engage your mind to focus and pay attention even when fatigued. Get the idea? Yes, burpees were a bit drastic but brain endurance training requires you to get the players physically exhausted prior in order to train the brain to be stronger.

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