Mental sports training: 'Our brains are in love with themselves'

Mental sports training: 'Our brains are in love with themselves'

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Bakersfield Condors hockey coach Matt O'Dette says younger pro athletes sometimes have a hard time staying on task and managing their stresses on and off the ice. This season, he suggested two of his Condors try neurofeedback training.

Olivier Malka and Scott Enders say they were excited to give it a shot, looking for any edge that could help them personally and professionally.

Neurofeedback is brain exercise that provides a digital mirror for your brain. The Condors defensemen went to Bakersfield's Kern Train Your Brain facility. After an interview about their symptoms and history, they were given a cognitive test.

After just one session, Malka says it's helped with controlling his nightmares and his performance, saying, "My horizontal view is better, and I just feel that I think differently."

His long-term goals from these sessions include managing stress and helping him maintain composure, improving concentration and focus.

Enders is already reporting better sleep and increasing focus. He also wants to score a few more goals this season.

Kimberly Smith Van Metre is the owner and a clinician at the Train Your Brain facility. She explains that brains understand change happening in the movies or video games the clients are watching and are actually reflecting the change happening in her clients brains.

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"Our brains are in love with themselves, anytime you give it information about itself it just eats it up," Smith Van Metre says.

Once the electrodes are in place, the lights are dimmed and all the client has to do is watch a movie or play a video game of his or her choice.

Both Enders and Malka say you can't feel anything, but are relaxed at the end of their sessions.

Every part of the brain controls something specific, so the electrodes are moved based on the areas the client wants to improve.

"We can zero-in on the abilities of the brain," says Smith Van Metre.

The Condors coach is not only a believer in the neurofeedback program for his players, he's tried it himself with tremendous results, crediting his training with helping him think on his feet quicker, and handle anxiety and stress.

The sessions are generally 45-minutes long and many clients begin with a base of 20 sessions. Some insurance companies will cover the cost, and there are no age restrictions for neurofeedback.

Smith Van Metre says once the clients leave the session, the brain has been trained how to properly react in certain situations, claiming this therapy is helpful in treating an array of physical and mental issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, migraines, chronic pain, sleep disorders, ADHD and mental and physical peak performance.