Our brain is probably the most complex organ in our body. Even though there are thousands of scientists and doctors who devote their lives to studying the brain, they still only understand a percentage of how it functions. One thing we do know is that our brains are responsible for storing our memories, like a USB memory stick. Most scientific research indicates that our brains have the capacity to store almost unlimited amounts of information indefinitely. Think about this!! Everything we have seen, heard, experienced, etc is stored somewhere in our brain. What I want to focus on is how we can train our brains to better retrieve those memories.
As referenced in my book My ATTACK Planner, to be released early 2018, I want to talk about 3 simple actions we can put in place today to strengthen our memory.
- Use mnemonic devices–These are memory tools that give meaning and organization to a random group of concepts. I use this constantly. For example, I use: Hips, Hands, Feet Follow to teach my players the order of how to shoot an effective, repeatable shot. Speaking this aloud while performing the actions allows players to get in sync with the shooting order more efficiently.
- Play brain games – Break out a sudoku book or download Roberto. It͛s a free app that provides various brain exercises to do for 6 minutes per day. Each of these exercises is scientifically designed to improve memory, reaction time, and the ability to focus. Improving reaction time allows us to respond vs reacting to different situations. This allows us to be in control instead of reacting to the situation. For example, staying calm after someone cuts us off in traffic or realizing we got the wrong food order after we have driven away from the restaurant.
- Get More Sleep – Everyone should get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Studies have shown that this is the time the brain needs to shift memories from temporary to long-term storage. Losing just 3-4 hours of sleep one night can lead to fading memory. So, create a bedtime routine that plans for hitting the sack earlier.
Why is it so important to condition our brain and, ultimately, our memory? Because we can retrieve our memories when we need them most. For example, in basketball, if we are dribbling the ball up the court and the defender stops us from our default move, being able to access our memory bank more quickly will let us go to our next move without a moment’s hesitation. The quicker we can respond to a situation, the more likely the outcome will be in our favor. Now go out there and make some memories!