Mental Engineering: Training Above the Neck


There’s a habit I have that makes B & N shelf-stockers nervous.  The cart in the aisles at 9AM tantalizes me with a book waiting to be put out on display that I might get a reading edge on.  That’s precisely what happened last week when I pulled  Head in the Game off the cart and was immediately drawn to its subtitle: The Mental Engineering of the World’s Greatest Athletes.

I usually get a pretty good sense of a book while browsing.  If there’s any doubt about the decision to purchase, I’ll skim it in more earnest in the B&N cafe over a cup of half decaf under the watchful eyes of Hemingway and friends.  Head in the Game kept paying dividends.


“The eyes are the windows to the soul”, Shakespeare allegedly said, though I’ve never been able to find that in his actual writings.  “Window to the Brain” is how Brandon Sneed conceives of the eyes, at least with regard to visual function.  An aspiring catcher in college, Sneed had significant trouble with the mental side of the game.  It was as if he took Yogi Berra’s dictum to another level, and for him 90% of the game was 100% mental.  The cutting edge training that Sneed investigates as a journalist/author is partly cathartic, and there is much here to enjoy as well as learn from.

Here’s a quick synopsis from four key chapters:

Chapter 13: Gaming the Brain, details the evolution of Cognisens and it’s signature training tool, NeuroTracker.

The chapter also notes that Tom Brady’s utilization of Brain HQ exercises helped put that approach to neurocognitive training on a wider map.  Sneed also notes that athletes, and in particular quarterbacks, work at expanding their useful field of view (UFOV).  UFOV is a crucial skill in driving, and Brain HQ works on this through a program called Double Decision.

Chapter 14: Training Times One Hundred, investigates Axon Sports and their motto “Train Above the Neck”.  Visualization, pattern recognition, and spatial reasoning is a big part of their program.  The chapter also touts Neuroscouting.

Chapter 15: “And Shoot, It’s Real!”, tracks the evolution of technology into the latest holy grail – VR via EON Sports.  As this clip from the LA Times notes, many sports teams are ultra secretive about any approach that might give them a competitive edge.

Chapter 16: Window to the Brain discusses the surprising decision by Nike to pull the plug on its Sensory Performance Station and Vapor Strobe Glasses.  But out of the ashes of that corporate crash and burn arose Senaptec Strobe and Senaptec Sensory Station, distributed by Bernell.




One thought on “Mental Engineering: Training Above the Neck

  1. “This life’s dim windows of the soul
    Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
    And leads you to believe a lie
    When you see with, not through, the eye.”
    William Blake

    But it’s probably in Shakespeare and the Bible as well. Both God and Shakespeare were notorious for writing what turned out to be cliches’.

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