Thursday, June 26, 2014

This is interesting

The link to the following

As far as scouting goes, there are things you can measure and things you cant. How high a person can jump, how much weight he or she can lift, how fast he or she can run, those all fall under the former. Tangibles, we call them.

Then there are attributes like like leadership and ability to perform under pressure and confidence. These are traits you want all your players to have. Some might even go as far as saying that being at the top-of-the-chart in these areas is more important than anything an athlete can do physically.

The problem, of course, is that these are intangibles, attributes that can’t be measured. Sure, scouts and bosses can guess and make assumptions, but those can all be affected by various biases and external noise. For example, did a player miss a free-throw at the end of the game because he couldn’t cope with the pressure, or did the ball actually slip out of his fingertips on the way up? And if did slip, was that because he did something differently because as the pressure got to him, or was it just pure randomness?

It’s always been impossible to know the answer to this question and to sort through all of this information. That is, until now.

“We’ve developed a system that can asses an individual’s emotional profile,” says Jordan Denning, CEO of CogSports. “We’re able to to put metrics together to identify what’s going on inside a player’s body and head.”

This is done through the ATHLETT, a tool that will be used at this week’s PIT and one that was developed by Dr. Walter Corey, the the Chairman of the Board for CogSports, also known as the Center for Cognitive Sports Performance.

Corey, who has a doctorate in leadership development, is the developer of a leadership evaluation tool called the LETT—he did this with a team from  the psychology department at Princeton University. Corey has also spent time lecturing at the Naval War college, which, uses the LETT in its training of students and SEALS. Corey thought a similar tool could be applied to the world of sports and so he decided to create a new, sports-oriented model.

The ATHLETT conducts its evaluation through a series of 133 examination questions. “Oblique, disarming statements” is how Denning describes them. One “question” could read something along the lines of “I often carry stress into the next day.” The individual being examined is then given a choice of “answers” to select from such as “agree” or “disagree.”

“From this we can see a trend,” says Denning, “and from that we can make an assessment about an individual’s propensity towards certain behaviors.” The trend could be that an athlete struggles when placed in a stressful environment, or that he or she is able to easily deflect stress. CogSports’ ATHLETT model has been put to use by Division I teams and is “in discussions” with professional ones, according to Denning, the company has seem many examples of their predicted results coming true.

All that being said,  CogSports’ mission, according to Denning “is not just to be the bearer of bad news. We’ll give you the good and the bad, and help you strengthen your weaker areas.”

This is done through the assigning of an “e coach”—emotional coach—who takes a look at a player’s results and assigns various exercises to address those flagged areas.

So, how does this relate to you, either as an athlete training or as a coach training athletes? Because it’s another example of how training does not only apply to the body. Says Mike Brungardt, the former Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Antonio Spurs, ”It’s another piece of the puzzle in developing an athlete to their full potential.”

That means you should be taking time to strengthen your mind and work on the so-called intangibles (a great place to start is with some of these videos.) Physical strength is not all it takes to be great. And now, thanks to CogSports, we have ways to work on our mental strength, too.

For more information on CogSports, visit their website

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