Mental Processing Speed and the Role it plays in Sports

Think Like an Athlete: Mental Processing Speed and the Role it plays in Sports

What is mental processing speed?

Mental processing speed is the speed at which your brain senses and processes incoming information and decides upon the best course of action.

The process is initiated when your brain senses external stimuli, such as a ball being thrown in your direction or the sound of your coach’s voice on the sidelines. Once the stimulus is detected your brain processes the information and considers the best possible responses to the incoming information.

After your brain has decided on the best course of action it will initiate a response – such as raising your arm to catch the ball or changing your strategy based on your coach’s recommendation.

The speed at which your brain can accomplish all of this is referred to as mental processing speed.

Why is mental processing speed important in athletics?

Mental processing speed is important in athletics because athletes are often required to make split second decisions based on incoming stimuli while under extreme pressure.

Think of a quarterback who has to decide in a matter of seconds which teammate to throw the ball to. If they wait too long or throw to someone that is blocked then the entire play is ruined.

Nearly every athlete depends on quick mental processing to make the right decision in the moments that matter. The brain’s ability to sense incoming stimuli and decide upon the best response is one of the most important (and often overlooked) aspects in athletics.

It has also been found that professional athletes process complex visual scenes faster than amateur athletes or the average person.

Scientists at the University of Montreal found that athletes were better able to process complex, dynamic visual scenes and they believe that this trait is what sets skilled athletes apart from their competitors (link to the article)

How can you improve your mental processing speed?

There are a number of ways you can improve your mental processing speed. The most basic ways are simple vocabulary and arithmetic exercises.

The Qball is the ideal tool to exercise and increase mental processing speed because it combines arithmetic and speed to challenge and engage an individual.

Each side of the Qball is imprinted with a different number, ranging from 1 to 10.

As an individual bounces the Qball they can challenge themselves with adding and multiplication exercises, thereby increasing their arithmetic speed and fluency.

In order for an individual to bounce the Qball faster they must increase their mental processing speed. It has been found that similar speed processing exercises lead to changes in areas of the brain involved in cognitive processing, resulting in improved performance.

Exercising mental processing speed is important for all individuals, not just athletes.

It is a well-known fact that mental processing speed begins to decline in middle age.

By playing with the Qball and engaging in mathematical games, middle-aged individuals and the elderly can help slow-down the decline in their mental processing speed.

It is also important for children to exercise their mental processing speed and help set the stage for their future academic and athletic success.

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