It has been an interesting first week of Whole Brain training. I’m finding it very challenging to complete all of the training tasks that I’ve set out to do. However, I think I’m getting into a groove. I expect to be more consistent as the project moves along.
For all you “data junkies” out there, I have an overview of my stats for the first 7 days.
I created that graphic to show each category of my brain training regimen. Here are some notes from each part of my training.
Let me start by giving an update on my pool playing
(I’ll be using Q Skills Challenge sessions and my own set of cue calibration methods to monitor how my game is progressing. The cue calibration drills will be particularly important when developing my left-handed abilities.)
I’ve been doing so much talk about all these hammer drills and other weird brain training tools and I haven’t been playing any pool. Of course, this is not a good plan to improve my pool game. Finally, I was able to get out and play. It was only the second time I had played over the last few months. It was great to play and my stroke felt pretty good. I wanted to get out and record my “skills” at the beginning of this long project, so I could look back later to compare and see any improvement.
I decided to use Allen Hopkin’s Q Skills Challenge to try to quantify my skill level. Of course, I realize the limitations of this type of thing, but I couldn’t think of a better way to do it. I played 10 racks to get a score based on a maximum of 200 points. My plan was to video all 10 racks, but my camera ran out of memory half-way through. Here is the video of the first 5 racks. I played a little better in the last 5 racks. The video angle is not the greatest. I’m going to try to find a better way to mount the camera for my next session. Here it is…
I had a total score of 140 for the 10 rack session. This was lower than I had hoped, but it is a good starting point. I had 5 perfect racks, so that felt good. Some careless mistakes in a few of the racks kept my score down. Also, I played 10 racks left-handed. My score was terrible, 27, lol. I really need to work on my bridge, when playing left-handed. I have a really hard time making a bridge. My left-handed stroke is not terrible. Also, my left-handed break is weak. Lots of room for improvement playing lefty.
In future practice sessions, I will be designing a set of cue calibration drills. I’ve written about my cue calibration concepts. They really help me to get into stroke. I think they will really help my left-handed game. Also, I’m still getting used to my low-deflection shaft, so I need to do more cue calibration to work out some bugs there, too.
(Hammer drills will improve my hand-eye coordination, motor skills, concentration, visual tracking and focus. In pool, this should help me with my stroke, focus, vision and ability to strike the cue ball accurately.)
In the first week of training, I’ve done over 13,000 hammer drills. I trained with my left hand 60% of the time and the other 40% was with my right hand. With this technique, I’m testing the theory that my brain will continue to try to keep my right hand dominant.
The brain has the built-in feature to transfer skills learned from one side to the other. My theory is that even though I’m training more with my left hand, my right hand will improve at a faster rate compared to the left hand.
So far, I’ve seen some evidence of this. For instance, looking at the previous graphic, you’ll notice that on days 3 thru 6, I was training more on my left hand. With my left hand, I couldn’t get much more than a run of 30 consecutive hammer strikes. With my right hand it was a struggle to get over 100. I was “averaging” around 50 with my right hand. On day seven, I decided to try something different. I did 100 runs with my left hand first. That ended up being over 3,200 strikes averaging about 33 per run. However I managed to get a high run of 98 with my left hand that day. Remember, prior to that, my right hand high-run was only 117. My left hand was catching up to the ability of my right hand. After I finished the 3,200 with the left hand, I gave the right hand a try. I decided ahead of time that I was only going to try 10 runs with my right hand. My very first run was 177! In those 10 runs, I averaged 117. More than double my previous average. It really was as if my brain was keeping the right hand dominant.
I believe your mind does the same when playing sports like pool. Playing with your non-dominant hand will force your brain to keep the dominant side ahead of the non-dominant side. I’ve now started practicing pool like this, too. At least, 60% of my practice time will be devoted to playing left-handed. More on that later.
(The Emwave2 sessions improve my ability to move into a state of relaxation, awareness, clear thinking and low-stress. In pool, it will help me get into the “zone” and help to recover from nervous or stressful situations.)
Training with the Emwave2 is a challenge for me. It is one of the most powerful tools that I have, yet I have trouble making time to use it. Ironically, the fact that I am too “busy” to use it, is exactly the reason that I need to use it. I’m so used to dealing with work and life stress, that I don’t realize the damage that I’m doing to my body.
Here is a screen shot of the most recent sessions with the Emwave2…
In this diagram, the green bar represents the amount of time I was in a high level of coherence. This is heart/brain coherence, indicating that my parasympathetic nervous system is back in control and allowing me to relax, think clearer and recover.
You can see that Day1 (10/14), I tried increasing to the “high” challenge level (shown with the 3 stars, above). This is the next to the highest level and is much more difficult to stay in a high level of coherence. At the high level, I really have to focus on my breathing and thinking thoughts that make me feel “gratitude”. This is a real challenge for me. I’m finding that I have A LOT of trouble relaxing. Even just breathing in and out for 4 to 5 seconds is challenging for me, some days. It made me realize just how high my stress levels are.
Like I said, it is challenging for me, but it is important for me to learn these tools to activate my parasympathetic nervous system. Having the sympathetic nervous system dominate all of the time is very unhealthy and it decreases performance in sports like pool.
My goal is to be in a high state of coherence more than 60% of my sessions at the highest challenge levels.
Once I learn these meditative techniques, they can be used to put me “in the zone” faster and help me deal with nervousness and stress during matches.
(This training helps to grow your active memory. It helps to myelination of the brain. In pool, this will help my brain pull up information quicker, increase short-term memory and overall intelligence.)
This is a fairly simple tool, but it is challenging as hell! This is the first experience I’ve had with dual n-back training. I consider myself to be a smart guy, but this is a different kind of challenge. I’ve always felt like my memory is weak and this little software tool is confirming that in a big way.
I’m having trouble just getting past the 3rd level.
Here is how it works. Above, is a screen shot of a game session. The “dual” part means that there are two pieces of data that you have to remember. You have to remember the blue square’s position and the audio message that is played. Each time it displays a square it says a letter. You have to remember the letter that was said and what position the square was in. The “n-back” refers to how many “moves” you have to remember. If you are at the Dual 2-back level, you have to remember if the position or audio matches from “2” moves back. If you are at the Dual 4-back level, you have to remember if the square or audio match the audio/location 4 moves back. I can’t get past Dual 3-back, yet.
However, I am getting better. Here is a quick graph showing that my average score is moving up. I just have to struggle through it. I’ll be quite proud, if I can get above Dual 6-Back.
(The Zeo Sleep Monitor records my sleep phases, like REM sleep, Deep sleep and waking times. In pool, I will perform better and recover better if I get better quality sleep.)
I started tracking my sleep quality a few nights a week. The sensors for this unit are expensive, so I’m not going to wear it every night. From what I’ve seen, my sleep quality is about average or above average for my age (see chart, below). Considering that I was working nightshift, during these two sessions, I was pretty happy with the results. Now, I just have to figure out why I’m so tired when I wake up :-/
DAY 5 – SLEEP DATA
DAY 7 – SLEEP DATA
MY WEEK 1 SLEEP DATA – COMPARED TO MEN 40-49
That is the data for week 1. In upcoming weeks, I will be doing some other tasks to add to my overall Whole Brain training. These are tasks found in the Whole Brain Power Workbook by Michael J. Lavery. I got my workbook, but haven’t started the training tasks, yet. A lot to do, but I think it will pay off in the end.
Let me know if you would like any more information or details about what I’m doing. I can do some more videos if you have something that interests you, just let me know. If you are unsure how this would help you to play pool, just leave me a question, below. I will answer all questions to the best of my abilities.