INTRODUCING THE HANDLE FITNESS® MINDSET:
Are you a good decision-maker on the court?
Arizona-based sports performance company Handle Fitness® has developed a decision training program for basketball players called THE LAZER™ 900. The purpose of the program is to train basketball players to make decisions quickly and correctly, similar to a game situation. The question of interest was whether training this specific skill makes changes in the brain patterning of highly skilled basketball players and whether this relates to successful decision-making on the basketball court?.
- This independent pilot study investigation suggests that the brain training patterns on The Lazer™ 900 were significantly related to decision-making both in the lab and on the court. Additional research could tease out changes over time with this type of training and compare changes in the brain with changes in performance both during Lazer™ 900 training sessions and during on-court performance.
Dr. Debbie Crews Ketterling Ph.D
Mayo Clinic- School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering
Sport Psychophysiologist at Arizona State University (ASU)
INDEPENDENT PILOT STUDY
Two (2) highly skilled basketball players completed three levels of difficulty for each of three training programs in a laboratory situation and on a real basketball court. One (1) player had experience on The Lazer™ 900 and the other player was a novice (had never completed the workouts on The Lazer™ 900). A Muse headset (fig. 1) was used to collect electroencephalogram (EEG) brain activity from the prefrontal area of the brain. This is called the “Executive Function” area and is responsible for making decisions regarding focus of attention, or it decides what to focus on at each moment in time. The data were collected from the left prefrontal cortex (FP1) and the right prefrontal cortex (FP2). The left side of the brain is the analytical, logical, verbal processing area and the right side of the brain is intuitive, imaginative and creative processing. EEG is measuring conscious processing; however, a measure we have developed and patented (Synergy) trains the conscious brain to engage the subconscious mind for performance (balancing the conscious and subconscious mind). 35 plus years of research indicates this to be the pattern related to best performance 1s before motion and it can be successfully trained using neurofeedback
For the purpose of this investigation prefrontal brain activity on the left and right side were measured along with synergy on the left and right side of the brain before, during the training and afterwards and these measures were compared with on-court performance (basketball dribbling in the lab with The Lazer™ 900 and decision-making while competing during the real sport). Any artifact (interference with the signals due to eye blinks or muscle tension) were automatically removed from the data prior to analysis. It was hypothesized that better performance would be correlated with higher levels of synergy. A basketball player will first go through the processing of all the incoming information and then will decide which move to make. Past research has suggested that successful decisions come from the subconscious mind and during this phase of decision making the conscious mind will be in balance or synergy (done processing).
TESTING ON THE MACHINE
Both players completed three (3) levels of difficulty from BEGINNER, INTERMEDIATE, to ADVANCED over three (3) decision training programs covering NUMBERS (fig. 2), COLORS (fig. 3), and SHAPES (fig. 4) on The Lazer™ 900 in the Opti Brain Laboratory.
TESTING ON THE COURT
The novice player also completed three (3) decision-making tasks on the basketball court including a POST ENTRY PASS (fig. 5), READING A DEFENSIVE SCREEN (fig. 6), and READING AN OFFENSIVE SCREEN (fig.7).
The results of the laboratory and on-court testing were combined and indicated a significant correlation (r = .54, p=.046) between the performance score (p) on each task with the percentage of synergy (r) in the brain (indicating a balanced conscious brain allowing the subconscious to perform). This can be seen in the brain maps of both the novice and skilled Lazer™ 900 basketball player, displayed in fig. 8. Interestingly, the resting Synergy measure of both basketball players also increased 2% from the pretraining measure to the posttraining measure. These results would suggest that there is a relationship between the decision skill training of The Lazer™ 900 with the performance score of the athlete and that the athlete is creating a balanced conscious mind allowing the subconscious (automatic processing mind) to decide. There was no detectable difference between the laboratory task and the on-court tasks.
This player was right handed and naturally more left sided (logical, analytical) in his resting brain measure (or in life). When he plays basketball he becomes more right sided in his decision making process (which is related to better performance in the research). However, when he was asked to move to the left side of the court (more challenging for him) his left prefrontal measure became dominant over his right side measure indicating he was processing more to complete the task than when he moved right. He was successful in both situations.