“Ninety percent of the game is half mental.” — Yogi Berra
Every elite athlete I know agrees with Yogi’s observation. After all, there is a limit as to how much strength, cardio and agility conditioning a human body can physically endure.
Throughout time athletes have striven to break speed and strength barriers. In fact, that desire led to the first Olympics, in 1896. Physical capabilities, though, are ultimately restricted by scientific laws (physics, thermodynamics and biomechanics) . However, thanks to relatively recent advances, neuroscientists are beginning to access the mysteries of the human brain. By training one’s brain, in ways that are aligned with scientific advances, athletes can enhance their athletic performances.
In 1996, when I lived in Colorado, I was invited to travel to China as a player on the first North American women’s ice hockey team to compete in Asia. We were considered “guinea pigs” for the U.S. Women’s National Team that would play in Harbin (the location of the only rink in China at that time) in preparation for the 1998 Nagano Olympics. Since I was older than our opponents and knowing that this was my one chance to compete internationally, I wanted to be in top condition. I trained hard that summer in Colorado.