Never in the history of mankind has competitiveness and winning been fiercer than the current day. The science of optimizing the physical performance of athletes is the major priority of most competitive sports and does exceptionally well in this regard. It is easier to use exact sciences like anatomy, physiology, physics,bio kinetics and chemistry to optimize the performance of athletes.

Where most world class athletes and sports teams still fall short is on the mental side of optimizing performance. We still see sportsmen and woman competing at world championship events losing controlling of their emotions, displaying lack of big match temperament, not synergising in their teams, miscommunicating, costing their teams penalties because of breaking the rules, disrespecting the referees, being demotivated and so the list goes on and on.

Some of the reasons for sports coaches and bodies paying less attention to the mental optimization of their athletes is because it is perceived “fuzzy”, less exact and in my personal experience, they may not be sure what a winning mental approach would entail.

The only way that sports people and teams will increase their competitive advantage in the world of sport, is if they can out-think, out-learn and out-create their competition. Thinking, learning and creativity are the main functions of the brain. This makes brain power and emotional intelligence the number one determiner of success and places neuroscience in the centre of competitive sport.

All athletes learn, think and create in different ways. A strong mental approach towards optimizingmental performance of athletes should entail having accurate understanding of their unique neurological design and understanding of the drivers that impact their brain’s performance and the emotional intelligence competencies necessary to understand and manage themselves and others effectively. This the key to potential development and performance optimization.

BRAIN PERFORMANCE OPTIMIZATION

One can’t improve what one can’t measure.

 

To improve mental performance, it is therefore essential to measure the 7 factors that make up an athlete’s neurological design, the 6 drivers that impact their brain performance and the 12 emotional intelligence skills vital for managing themselves and others successfully when competing.

BRAIN PROFILE ASSESSMENT – LRP™ ADVANCED +

The LRP™™ Advanced + is a unique brain profile assessment that assesses the drivers impacting an athlete’s brain performance positively or negatively and the factors making up the athlete’s unique neurological design.

6 DRIVERS THAT OPTIMIZE BRAIN PERFORMANCE

The brain has unlimited potential in terms of what one can learn, think and create. Sometimes the performance of world class athlete’s may not appear to be that of a person with unlimited potential, because drivers like brain fitness, stress coping skills, good sleeping patterns, sufficient movement, positive mind-sets or healthy eating habits are lacking. In order to optimize their brain’s performance, it is essential that coaches and athletes know how these drivers influence their athlete’s brain performance and neurological design and learn skills to optimize it.

When an athlete is not brain fit, it may lead to a hand-eye coordination problem, or slowing down their natural muscle speed for a fraction of a second. Brain fitness is as important as physical fitness. Even when an athlete is brain fit but they are fatigued (lack of coping with stress, bad sleeping patterns, negative mind-set or incorrect brain foods), it will neutralize their brain fitness and cause some brain areas to “switch off” (become less receptive).

Drivers that influence brain performance
UNIQUE NEUROLOGICAL DESIGN

Fit matters. When there is alignment between an athlete’s natural neurological design and how they play their sport, they become passionately dedicated and intrinsically motivated to compete. From a neuroscience perspective, passion is good fuel for the brain and body as an athlete produces vital neurotransmitters that is good for energyhealth and improved performance. Doing a sport according to their natural, neurological design will therefor improve their brain health and performance and assist them in being more effective and competitive.

When there is miss-alignment between the athletes neurological design and how they play their sport, the stage is set for their performance to be negatively impacted. From a neuroscience perspective this will cause them to produce inhibiting chemicals that will act as bad fuel for their brain and therefor negatively impact their immune system and deplete their energy.

When a cricket player for example, is left eye dominant, but right handed, lack of brain fitness or fatigue may cause a visual neurological hindrance that will negatively influence his performance during the game in a profound way and even cause the team to lose.

In today’s competitive world it is mandatory that athletes and their coaches have accurate awareness of their lateral dominance, expressive/receptive preference, rational/emotional preference, their figurative brain language preferences, their genetic combination of brain hemisphere, eye, ear and hand dominance and their intelligence preferences. Few coaches and athletes actually understand this about themselves and what to do to get the most out of their brain and their unique neurological design.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Recent advances in brain science provide a better understanding of the role that emotions play ineffective thought, action and performance. More information is available about how emotional, social and cognitive parts of the brain work together and what can happen when these parts of the brain are out of synchrony.

Research suggests that emotional intelligence now matters more than ever before. Personal qualities, such as optimism, resilience and motivation have become more important in recent years due to massive advances in the world of competitive sport. Without these emotional intelligence qualities, cognitive abilities are inhibited. For instance, when an athlete becomes upset, the ability to process information and make smart decisions diminishes. What distinguishes an athlete’s performance from another’s are realistic self-confidence, self-management, and self-motivation. All these aspects are dimensions and competencies of emotional intelligence vital for success on the sports field.

Thinking, learning and creativity involve cognitive ability. Without emotional intelligence these cognitive abilities suffer. Emotional intelligence is the foundation of cognitive ability, mental health and peak physical performance.

Brain research suggests that emotional intelligence (EI), rather than cognitive intelligence (IQ) may be one of the most important measures for human potential. Star performers stand out not only by personal, physical achievement, but also by their capacity to work well in teams. The higher up the ladder of success an athlete goes, the more vital all aspects of emotional intelligence become.

Emotional intelligence is an elaboration of the Interpersonal (social) and Intrapersonal (personal) Intelligences.

Athletes with intrapersonal intelligence manage their own emotional life well and function well independently. It is about having personal strength. Intrapersonal Intelligence is intelligence. It means to be self- smart.

Interpersonal Intelligence means to be people smart. It is the intelligence for perceiving and understanding other people’s moods, desires and willingness to interact. Athletes with this intelligence preference enjoy interacting with other people and are usually seen as team players. They are skilful in relationships.

DIMENSIONS OF EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Emotional Intelligence is multifaceted. In this profile, we propose that this generic competence framework consists of four broad dimensions of emotional intelligence: accurate self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and social skills. These dimensions are interdependent and to a certain extent sequential, starting with self-awareness.

ACCURATE SELF-AWARENESS

Self-awareness indicates how much one knows about oneself. It answers the question of how well one knows their internal states, preferences, strengths, talents, mind-sets, values and intuitions. Accurate self-awareness makes one become more grounded, authentic and realistic, being in touch with who you really are.

SELF-MANAGEMENT

Self-management is accurate self-awareness in action. It is about the ability to manage one’s thoughts, internal states, impulses and emotions to facilitate reaching goals and objectives, despite one’s circumstances.

SOCIAL-AWARENESS

Social awareness is about the ability to be accurately aware of other people’s feelings, needs, concerns and perspectives. It includes your ability to notice others and be considerate.

Image illustrating interpersonal and intrapersonal strengths
SOCIAL-SKILLS

Social skills are social awareness in action. It is about the adeptness at inducing desirable responses in other people, and establishing strong social bonds with people who are very different from you.

 

12 EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE COMPETENCIES

Neuro-Link has developed a 12 Emotional Intelligence Competencies Profile that assesses the 12 emotional intelligence skills that are of primary importance in order to optimize athletes’ mental performance as illustrate

Image of a iceberg illustrating the 12 emotional intelligence competencies
EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE DEVELOPMENT

After measuring the drivers, neurological design and emotional intelligence competencies of sports people their performance id optimized by letting them go through 9 modules that will help them to accurately understand their unique neurological design, the drivers that can optimize their brain performance and develop 12 emotional intelligent skills that are vital foe success in the sports arena. These modules are:

  • Mental Literacy
  • Find Your Purpose
  • Mind Power
  • Coping with Change, Managing Stress and Maintaining Wellness
  • Coping and Resilience Skills
  • Social Awareness
  • Interpersonal Communication and Conflict Resolution
  • Social Cohesion and Team Functioning
  • Servant Leadership

More information about EI program here!

Outcomes

  • Winning mind-set of a champion
  • Big match temperament for the big moments
  • Effective personal management to cope with stress and fatigue
  • Significantly improved visual skills
  • World class hand, eye and ear co-ordination
  • Brain fitness that matches physical fitness
  • Social cohesion with others
  • Effective communication with others
  • Social awareness
  • Self confidence
  • Intrinsic motivation

Development can be done through live training, or self-paced video learning or individual coaching.

 

More information about EI profile here!

SIGNIFICANCE
RECOMMENDATION

‘It is my firm belief that the Neuro-Link Learning Receptiveness Profile (LRP) is an invaluable tool from which all athletes and business people can benefit immensely.
I believe the better one knows oneself the more successful you will be in maximizing your potential both in sport and life. The LRP gave me greater clarity on how I process information and specifically how stress impacts my unique neurological design and thereby potentially hinders my performance. This information now empowers me to learn how to better manage myself under pressure and improve my brain optimization.

I believe the LRP could be a great tool for both coaches and athletes. There is no relationship more vital to success in sport than the coach – athlete relationship and this profile gives huge insight into how each functions best and what teaching styles work most effectively on the individual thus empowering the coach to most effectively communicate information to the athlete and thereby attaining greater success.

The LRP profile has further proved vital in my post athletic professional life as now my business partner and I better understand each other, our unique differences and how to best work as a team, thus increasing our productiveness and hence attaining greater success’.

Penny Heyns
Double Olympic Champion