A Natural Partnership
At Competitive Edge, we pride ourselves on detailed private and small group lessons. These feature high quality physical reps to build up a high efficiency and automatic skill set for our players. And they deepen each player’s understanding of their craft and the movements they need to perfect in order to reach their potential.
VISYN comes at the same problem with a whole new way to train using near perfect Visual Reps which enhance the efficiency and automaticity of players’ movements and synergize to accelerate the improvement skaters are already experiencing with their ongoing training.
VISYN is connected to Competitive Edge based on Andy Blaylock’s role in founding both companies, but more importantly we see a natural partnership between the two because their two core concepts mutually reinforce each other’s effects!
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Neuroscience to Accelerate Skill Development?
My (Andy’s) Journey with VISYN
Almost 10 years ago, an article was published in the Twin Cities local hockey journal, “Let’s Play Hockey” by legendary hockey guru Jack Blatherwick that sparked my curiosity about ways that neuroscience could tell us how to help players get better faster. Jack is a bit like a Yoda of hockey in Minnesota. Nobody knows more, but much of the the local hockey world has never heard of him because he isn’t out there promoting a training business. If you get to benefit from his wisdom directly, you are one of the lucky ones. Indirectly, we can all benefit from his articles, and in my opinion, more of us should. You can find the article that inspired me way back when here.
This article is a bit of a Trojan Horse. It is a short read, but it references a much longer article in the New York Times by Daniel Coyle. That NY Times article sparked something in Mr. Coyle and he went on to expand the article into the book The Talent Code. Finally, both his article and his book reference Neuroscientist R. Douglass Fields who has his own book related to this subject matter, The Other Brain.
I let the Trojan Horse through the gate. I read it all. I was mesmerized by the possibility that we could precisely control what we were reinforcing in an athlete’s learning process to bring about traits that aren’t being targeted by other training. All we need to do is figure out what things would produce an untapped advantage in hockey if we were to target them more directly in training.
Later, I was approached by Jeff Thielen about building a product that leverages neuroscience for sports training. With my head first dive into the reading material referenced above, I was totally primed to want to jump all over that idea. The outcome of the journey that followed is VISYN.
The path we followed with VISYN at the start wasn’t about finding the right things to reinforce as those articles had caused me to think about. Instead it was adding more reinforcement through a different channel. In this case the initial idea was to use several established effects in neuroscience (notably, Mirror Neurons and Hebbian Learning) to reinforce human body movements using the visual channel. Even better, we would use near perfect examples of the techniques we’d teach to do it so we could avoid creating any bad habits.
I was hooked. We’ve developed the concept dramatically to get where we are today. This development has been both in the form of expanding the neuroscience that powers the training and in testing and validating the product. I sincerely hope it can give people unprecedented access to a faster and easier path toward their potential!
Founder, Competitive Edge Hockey