Exercise balls are popular pieces of fitness equipment. You can commonly see people doing core exercises with them or using them to add instability to exercises.
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But what about using them to improve your football skills and situaitonal awarness? Just recently, STACK posted an article about NFL teams using exercise balls on the field during training camp.
I’ve had great success using exercise balls on the field by throwing or rolling them toward athletes and forcing them to make split-second decisions to avoid the ball, which simulates how they have to react to unpredictable situations during games.
The logic behind this is what’s called cognitive training. Research has shown that systematic brain training can potentially improve a number of cognitive skills—problem solving, memory, attention, perception, reasoning, planning, judgment, general learning and overall executive functioning.
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In sports, exercise ball cognitive drills teach athletes to process information quickly, make rational decisions, and ignore and/or alter their course when unwanted distractions present themselves. For example, these drills help defenders make split and firm decisions more naturally by using the hands and the body—in addition to getting to the quarterback and/or running back, in addition to the opponent coming across the middle.
Making split decisions is a must for all athletes. The athlete must dodge, weave and engage the exercise ball and mini-medicine balls, which encourages the use of creative skills, focus, attention to details, and speed in processing what their opponents will do, while making flexible decisions when their first plan of action does not work and altogether being able to move efficiently to engage their opponent.
Watch the video above to learn how to train your brain using exercise balls.
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Scott Barry Kaufman. “Quality content on creativity, innovation and imagination.” The Creativity Post. 20 November 2013, http://www.creativitypost.com/psychology new_cognitive_training_study_takes_on_the_critics. Accessed 02 September 2016.