Berzin­ski brain­ing his clever train­ing

The Cairns Post - - LIFESTYLE -

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.

Pic­ture: ANNA ROGERS

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.

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