In my opinion, everything in life comes down to habits. No matter who you are and what you employ.
Our rate of success is determined by the habits we create.
In fact, we are always able to rewire our brain.
I’ve used a lot of time studying Neuroplasticity and Neurogenesis, which I find very interesting.
Not long ago, scientists believed that our brain did not develop after childhood and stopped changing as adults. Which is simply not true.
Our brains are adaptable and can change depending on our environment, our thought patterns etc.
Every time we feel, think or do something, we create pathways in our brains. Some are stronger than other. That depends on how much we cultivate these.
Every time we think in a certain way or do something physical, such as playing soccer (or even watching a game in television!), we strengthen these roads.
Let’s take habits for instance. Why is it that a habit is so hard to let go of, as soon as we’ve developed it? That’s because of the strong growing pathways in our brain; no matter positive or negative habits.
Every time we start thinking about something differently, doing new tasks; like learning a new language or traveling, we create new roads. As we do these tasks more offen, the roads strengthens just like the old roads, we use rarer, weakens.
If you have ever changed a bad habit, you have experienced Neuroplasticity in action.
Depression, for instance, is negative thought patterns in our brain. These are so strongly wired, that it can be very difficult, not impossible though, to change these pathways.
The Neuroplasticity happens when we start rewiring negative pathways to positive pathways, with the goal of achieving strong positive thought patterns.
Our athletes need to be challenged in order to learn new technical and cognitive skills. That’s what we already know as getting out of the comfort zone.
In the comfort zone we thrive and find our daily structure with, hopefully, many great habits. We need this in order to relax, recover and avoid stressful situations.
Outside the comfort zone we get challenged, create new pathways in our brain, fight the battle of creating new habits; getting uncomfortable.
Our goal is to rewire the athletes, so their comfort zone and their base is as positive as possible. But if they don’t get challenged, they don’t evolve.
Here’s what we as coaches can can do in order to promote Neuroplasticity in them:
- Enrich their environments and provide challenges
- Travel and visit new places. In the short run it can be as simple as traveling different roads to work.
- Memory training with and without physical training involved.
- Be creative; do creating artwork.
2. Intermittent fasting
- Fasting/starving for longer periods of time promotes Neuroplasticity. It evens extends lifespan. Fasting can be challenging when dealing with individuals with a high level of physical activity, but should be done whenever possible.
3. Non-dominant hand/foot exercising
- Besides training the athlete’s weak spots, the athlete gets great cognitive advantages as well.
4. Lots of sleep and good sleep quality
- This is a must in all aspects of life. An absolute minimum of 7-8 hours of quality sleep.
5. Meditation and Mindfulness
- When practicing Mindfulness, the brain adapts the mindful state and makes it the default state over time.
- Creates pleasance and calm space in the brain by with the brain transcends to feelings in everyday life and periods of stress.