Berzinski braining his clever training
CAIRNS footballer Tom Berzinski has been taking his game to a new level with unique training methods, as he prepares to make a move to the state’s southeast to chase his sporting dreams.
The 15-year-old started his footballing career at the age of five with Edge Hill United and was later a product of the FNQ Heat/Cairns FC system.
Next year he will join the Peninsula Power Under-16s competing in the state’s National Premier League competition.
“(Football) has always been something I’ve really wanted to go far in, but I didn’t really start getting anywhere until recent years,” he said.
“I want to take my career further and see where I’m at with all the other players — compete against better teams, get better training and test myself.”
The young talent has been working with sports psychologist Rob Gronbeck for 18 months to develop his brain speed, cognition and emotional equilibrium, as well as specialist training with movement coach Lachlan Boyd from Train for LIFE.
“(Training with Rob) has been excellent,” Berzinski said.
“It’s really helped my ability to see the game, to stay cool under pressure and to calm down and compose myself.
“With Lachlan I’ve been doing more sports-based physical training, including running, stability and strength exercises. I’ve definitely noticed changes on the field.”
Gronbeck said, together, he and Boyd could be seen as Berzinski’s “ad hoc high-performance team”.
At Gronbeck’s Brain Room, Berzinski has been using the NeuroTracker, a cognitive training program which is used by world-class teams such as Manchester United, the Vancouver Canucks and the Golden State Warriors.
“A study in 2016 came out showing it improved passing accuracy by 15 per cent,” Gronbeck said.
“Players were found to have passing accuracy of 59 per cent in a game of six-sided football.
“Then they did 15 sessions of the NeuroTracker, which is an object tracking task, and retested the players again and their passing accuracy had improved to 74 per cent,” he said.
“That was recently judged by a German sports psychology journal as the only evidence of ‘far transfer’ in elite athletes, which is where something that is completely unrelated to the sport has an impact on performance.
“We integrate physical movement and football training skills into the exercise as well.”
Gronbeck said another specific issue was “keeping your cool”.
“He’s been learning how to use his breath and how that affects his body,” Gronbeck said.
“He’s been doing some biofeedback, where sensors pick up his relaxation or stress, and by using slow breathing he would shift his body into a calm mode, which can also help reduce nervousness.”
Berzinski hopes that the training methods will make his transition to the Peninsula Power easier.
“I’m expecting the training to be a lot harder down there compared to what it is here,” Berzinski said.
“It’s given me an insight into what it’s going to be like.”
Gronbeck said Berzinski was a “very hard worker” and that he expected the trait to take him far as he takes the next step towards a future in football.
“Every challenge I put in front of him, he wants to throw himself into it,” he said.
“He’s made it easy — he’s been very coachable.
“I’ve been able to challenge him and challenge him and he continues to struggle through it and improve, and that’s all a trainer can really ask for.” MANY people think performance psychology is two people talking, setting goals, relaxation and visualisation.
This would have been true in the 1980s when laptops, the internet, and neuroscience weren’t invented.
But today, performance psychology looks remarkably different as technology provides tools to measure an athlete’s brain function.
Rather than just asking, “how are you feeling today?”, equipment now measures readiness to train, being in the zone (or overthinking) and brain speed.
Psychology looks more like sports science with data, sensors, and training programs, like those at the Brain Room.
For example, visual tracking speed – a vital metric for how many moving objects an athlete can accurately track, and how fast – is possible with the 3D NeuroTracker program.
Being the first in Australia to use it, I have trained 250plus athletes and overseen 6300-plus sessions since 2014.
I have seen athletes transform their focus, concentration, visual tracking and performance.
NeuroTracker was judged the only program to show transfer from a computer brain training program to sports performance, as soccer passing accuracy improved by 15 per cent after only 15 sessions in five weeks.
Modern performance psychology has grown up and provides reliable, predictable and valuable training to improve brain function for all athletes, and students.
With dedication, effort and commitment, Tom Berzinski has completed 106 NeuroTracker sessions with me over the past 18 months and improved his brain speed by 271 per cent. It’s no wonder his performance has gained the attention of an NPL coach and he has been offered a spot in their youth squad. If Tom puts as much effort into his training at his new club as he has his sessions at the Brain Room, I’m sure you’ll be seeing more of him. Good luck mate! Rob Gronbeck is a performance psychology coach and founder of the Brain Room.
CLEVER: Tom Berzinski, who is going to play for Peninsula Power in the state’s NPL competitio., at work in the Brain Room — which uses technology to develop brain speed, cognition and emotional equilibrium.