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Can Sports Performance Improve With Neurofeedback Brain Training?

Updated: 3 days ago

✎ Written by: Veronica Silver ✓ Fact-checked by: Kaija Sander, Ph.D.

Have you ever felt so focused on a performance or task that time no longer seemed to matter and you became so absorbed in only the present moment? This is known as flow state, or being “in the zone.”

The flow state occurs when you are actively engaged, challenged, and immersed in the activity you’re performing. We often hear this occurring to artists, surgeons, dancers, writers, tennis players, and other athletes who get “in the zone” and perform at their peak. Being in this flow state allows an athlete to be fully immersed in the present moment to improve their performance, and it can help their mind connect with achieving a goal – whether that be making a free throw, stealing a base, or making a perfect pass. Getting “in the zone” allows them to be focused, relaxed but alert, and be able to block out any mental barriers to performance, such as anxiety or doubt.

So how can you engage your brain to access this flow state and improve sports performance as a result? Training your brain with neurofeedback may be the answer.

In this article we’ll aim to address the question about how neurofeedback might get you “in the zone” and improve your sports performance by covering:

  1. What neurofeedback is

  2. The ways neurofeedback can improve sports performance

  3. How to get started with neurofeedback

What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a type of brain training that uses real-time feedback to enable you to regulate your brain activity. This is typically done through the use of sensors, called electrodes, placed on the head to measure electrical activity in the brain (brainwaves). This electrical activity is associated with your different levels of consciousness, including anxiety, alertness, sleep, or focus, and it can provide insights about your current mental state.

The feedback is provided by visual cues (like a game or video) or through auditory cues (such as music or sound). Meaning that, when your brain is not in the target state, – whether you’re unfocused, anxious, stressed, etc., – the volume may become lower or the images on the screen may become less focused or more difficult to see. On the other hand, if your brain activity is within the right range, the volume may go up, or the screen may become brighter. This allows you to see or hear your brain activity in real-time.

As a result, with practice and consistency, your brain will learn to associate the target brain activity with the reward, thereby regulating it to be in an optimal state – to improve focus, reduce stress and anxiety, and even enhance physical performance.

You can learn more about how neurofeedback works and what to expect from a session here.

How Might Neurofeedback Improve Spo