Courtesy: USA Water Polo
SAN FRANCISCO, May 4, 2020 – With COVID-19 putting the sports world on hold, an all-star cast of elite athletes from six different sports leagues will begin competing today in the first-ever NeuroTrainer Challenge for Charity (#NeuroTrain4Charity), a mental fitness competition that will lend support to Save The Children during this pandemic.
Fourteen athletes representing MLB, NBA, NFL, NWSL, USA Water Polo and WNBA will literally go head-to-head in a 10-day challenge using NeuroTrainer’s VR-based training system. NeuroTrainer, a San Francisco-based company, uses neuroscience and virtual reality to optimize brain performance to enhance athletic skill development for athletes.
“We are excited to work with these elite athletes to help them train remotely, specifically around their mental fitness, while at the same time supporting children who need our help to get through these tough times,” NeuroTrainer CEO David Aufhauser said. “Now more than ever, mental health and fitness is such a critical component of everyday life. We believe it’s important that athletes of all levels are able to train their mind the same way they are able to exercise their bodies wherever they are, even at home.”
The roster of athletes competing in the challenge include Aubrey Bledsoe (Washington Spirit), Kevin Byard (Tennessee Titans), Robert Covington (Houston Rockets), Matt Duffy (Texas Rangers), Abby Erceg (North Carolina Courage), Tacko Fall (Boston Celtics), Johnny Hekker (Los Angeles Rams), Benardrick McKinney (Houston Texans), Chiney Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks), Kelsey Plum (Las Vegas Aces), Mark Schlereth (NFL, retired), Maggie Steffens (USA Water Polo), Jasmine Taylor (Connecticut Sun) and Grant Williams (Boston Celtics). Collectively, they have won two Olympic gold medals, six World Championships and seven League Championships, including three Super Bowls, one World Series, three NWSL titles.
“Everybody has their own individual journey right now dealing with COVID-19, a lot of people are struggling,” Two-time Olympic gold medalist Maggie Steffens said. “If we can use sport to send a smile and help children through this hard time, that is what excites me about being involved. Plus, I get a chance to train in a new way and compete against all these other athletes. The mind is a huge part of what makes us elite athletes. We are constantly trying to build that muscle but still learning how. That is what is super interesting about NeuroTrainer and this challenge.”
The athletes will be immersed in a futuristic training ground to boost their athletic skills, making them constantly evaluate the visual landscape around them to make split second decisions. NeuroTrainer’s artificial intelligence adapts as they improve and trains their cognitive abilities to be quicker, more efficient, and more accurate. They will compete in an exercise called PADL (Perception Action Decision Loop), which targets three areas of the brain: the occipital lobe, prefrontal cortex and parietal lobe. It is designed to improve their vision, focus and decision making under pressure.
The competition will run from May 4 to May 14 with the six best daily scores by each athlete over the 10 days being counted in the standings. A daily leaderboard will be posted at www.neurotrain4charity.org. NeuroTrainer will make a donation to Save The Children in the winner’s name.
Save the Children is the oldest nonprofit in the world addressing the needs of children. Over the past 100 years, Save the Children has transformed the lives of more than 1 billion children worldwide. With 65 active response programs in 44 countries, Save The Children serves more than 100 million children every year, and has an immediate response operation for global disasters, including the COVID-19 pandemic.