Women's hockey team use NeuroTracker to boost mental strength

Handling pressure in crunch situation is key to success in any sport and to address that issue the Indian team management has introduced 'NeuroTracker' to the women hockey players to enhance their mental strength.

Three major sporting events -- the Commonwealth Games (CWG), the Asian Games and the World Cup -- are slotted for 2018, making it a critical year for both men's and women's hockey teams.

And Indian women's hockey team coach Harendra Singh and his support staff is leaving no stone unturned to prepare the girls for next year's big tournaments.

NeuroTracker is a non-invasive system that uses 3D multiple object tracking to improve the efficiency of neural networks that govern situational awareness, attention, executive function and cognitive stamina.

The programme is commonly used by top level football and basketball teams but it has been used for the first time in Indian hockey.

NeuroTracker was used on trial basis in October at SAI's Bengaluru centre where women's hockey team is based.

After testing the device on every member of the hockey team, the Sports Authority of India has now procured it and coach Harendra said the results are already visible on the field.

"This team is capable of winning against any team but they need self-belief which will translate into team belief. For that they need mental strength. This is for the first time in Indian hockey NeuroTracker is being used to enhance mental strength of players," Harendra told PTI Bhasha.

"They have been given sessions on daily basis for last two months and results are encouraging especially for goal keepers and penalty corner specialists. It is helping in decision making, concentration and improving reflexes also," he added.

NeuroTracker programme has spread to more than 550 elite training facilities around the globe, representing a vast and diverse sporting landscape.

English Premier League clubs like Manchester United have spent huge amounts to install a NeuroTracker setup in their facility.

US soccer has also tested more than 7,000 youth players on it since 2014. The same programme is used by top hockey and basketball teams as well.

"This is a 3D program in which you'll see eight balls of green colours. Then, two of them will glow orange. These are your targets and you have to track them as they move. When all the balls stop moving, click on those targets with your mouse. Initially the balls come with slow speed but gradually speed is accelerated," said Dr Pralay Majumdar, Head of Sports Science at SAI, Bengaluru.

"NeuroTracker helps to raise athletes level of situational awareness and decision-making abilities on the field," he added.

India captain Rani Rampal feels that the team does not lack in skills and stamina but they need to work on their mental strength.

"We know our strengths and weaknesses and now with the help of NeuroTracker we are getting that mental strength. We are taking 45 minutes session every day after lunch and players are enjoying it," she said.

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