Omaha athletes use VR technology to strengthen mental part of their games

Published: Jul. 6, 2021 at 9:35 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The days of just being in top-notch physical shape to compete in sport are long gone.

The way technology has advanced has allowed athletes to learn to train their brains and become stronger mentally as well.

It’s happening in the Omaha metro.

The Gretna Elite Academy’s United Women’s Soccer Club has been using NeuroTrainer this summer and are seeing positive results.

“Everyone thinks you have to physically out-compete your opponent, but also a lot of times its more mentally,” Nebraska Women’s Soccer player Kenzie Coons said. “So, I think with this I definitely have more awareness of what’s going on around me.”

Awareness of surroundings is one of the many key focus points of the simulations created by NeuroTrainer.

CEO Noah Rolland said it helps athletes get focused and make quicker decisions as well.

It’s a tool that can help them reach “peak performance.”

“When we ask an athlete, especially someone who has been training for a while, what’s your biggest challenge? Very rarely do we hear it’s about physical technique. We normally hear it’s about ‘I need to hold together under pressure. I need to have more consistent performance on the field or on the court. I need to be able to make better decisions under pressure,’ and all of those things happen in the brain,” Rolland said.

Right now, roughly 8,000 athletes use NeuroTrainer.

Rolland acknowledged that the company certainly isn’t the only one out there trying to improve the mental part of athletes’ games, but he believes the VR aspect of it is new and a game changer.

They track everything, and according to Rolland have seen athletes improve their decision making time by 40 milliseconds.

“What does 40 milliseconds mean to me in the morning when I’m making coffee? Nothing. What does 40 milliseconds mean when I read a field and have to decide where I need to be and whether I’m going to pass or not pass? It’s tremendously impactful,” Rolland said.

The soccer players using it in Gretna credit on-field improvement to what they’ve experienced by using the NeuroTrainer equipment this summer.

Current Husker Katie Stoneburner said it gets her more focused for games.

She’s mentally into it from the start.

Grand Canyon University forward Lindsey Prokop believes the mental training of her brain has made her more assertive on the field.

“I’ve taken a lot more shots and take players one on one more,” Prokop said. “I think it’s my decision making that’s changed a lot and I’ve scored like seven goals in six games.”

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