WE may have heard the saying sports is 90 per cent mental and 10 per cent physical but such a theory probably applies differently to each type of sport and each individual sportsperson.
In fact, the debate about this continues.
If we were to agree to the 90 per cent mental and 10 per cent physical notion, then we could say there is ample room for improvement and there are tools to help athletes win the mind game through virtual reality.
According to the NeuroSky chief executive officer Stanley Yang, the beauty of Virtual Reality (VR) based sports training lies in its ability to create real muscle memory from virtual experiences.
The US Olympic Archery team first used NeuroSky’s technology to improve their game. The coaches and archers’ testimonies to the effectiveness of the technology as a training tool played a large part in spurring the future development of early NeuroSky tech.
It was found that elite archers had a state of both mental calm and concentration while mid-level archers lacked a state of mental calm, yet had high concentration.
This finding allowed coaches like Kisik Lee, Guy Krueger, and Mel Nichols to train mid-level archers to reach that mind state of being able to concentrate on what they need to do while staying relaxed.
Imagine a baseball player, who can practise his swings as many times as he wants in VR far better than he could do in real life.
Such a simulation can be set up to let the batter practise at his own level after which he can analyse and review his performance.
Yang said VR for sports training is one of the ways to see results.
“We use our technology to help athletes achieve their goals faster. We can use our technology to measure an athlete’s state of mind so he or she can figure out the ideal way to prepare for a big sporting event.
“Our technology could be used for the performances of athletes in Sarawak. We visited the Minister of Tourism, Art, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah recently and showed him what our technology can do. We have given our proposal and I believe the ministry is evaluating it.
“We are also working with the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) using our system,” Yang told thesundaypost after giving a talk on ‘Unlocking your potential — It’s all in the brain’ at the Sarawak Dialogue in Kuching recently.
He said both sides — state Youth and Sports Ministry and NeuroSkly — are interested in working together but have not signed any deal yet.
Abdul Karim confirmed meeting with Yang, saying, “That’s why I want a centre of high performance for sports set up to make Sarawak a sports powerhouse.
“With the centre, all science in sports, including this VR technology, will be used to tune athletes from just ordinary performers to ones who believe they can be champions.”
Asked whether the state would agree to collaborate with Neurosky, Abdul Karim replied, “When things are already ready, we will.”
Founded in 2004, NeuroSky is a privately held, Silicon Valley-based company with offices throughout Asia and Europe.
It is a manufacturer of Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) technologies for consumer product applications.
The company adapts electroencephalography (EEG) and electromyography (EMG) technology to fit a consumer market within a number of fields such as entertainment (toys and games), education, automotive, and health.
NeuroSky technology allows for low-cost EEG-linked research and products by using inexpensive dry sensors. Older EEGs require the application of a conductive gel between the sensors and the head.
The systems also include built-in electrical ‘noise’ reduction software-hardware, and utilise embedded (chip level) solutions for signal processing and output.
Neurosky primarily works as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), collaborating with industry partners, developers, and research institutions to deploy the technology into their own products and systems.
NeuroSky’s direct-to-consumer products, such as the MindSet and the MindWave, are typically designed for maximum flexibility of use through third party and open source content.
Another speaker at the dialogue, Anne Tham, group chief executive officer and founder of Ace EdVenture Group, Malaysia, presented a talk on ‘Child entrepreneurs: how to create, nurture and develop them in school’.
She said entrepreneurship could teach a child to make strategic decisions, communicate well, be accountable, lead others, among others.
“Recognising and fostering entrepreneurship in children encourages free thinking and helps them gain self-confidence in their ideas and abilities.
“Besides, understanding and applying the principles of entrepreneurship helps children realise the outcome of their efforts.”
Tham added that entrepreneurship is a mindset and beyond just doing a business.
“It’s about the ability to look for things that we can change in the society but in the process of solving the problem or making life easier for people, we are able to monetise it so that we can sustain our own lives as well.
“Showing kids the importance of earning money is paramount to success later in life,” she explained.
According to her, entrepreneurship is a journey and also about creating one’s own path.
It is never too early to teach children some entrepreneurship principles. Basic business knowledge like understanding the concept of earning money, knowing the expenses of running day to day operations, and discovering the importance of goal setting can help children become more productive adults.
“They may not be entrepreneurs but they will think like one,” she pointed out.
“Because we believe in growing a generation of pioneers who are the creators of opportunity and value to society — people who leave the world in a better state than when they first came into it,” she replied.
Tham said it was a dream come true when she started the Dwi Emas International School together with director of school Melinda Lim. It’s the first entrepreneurial school in Malaysia.
They wanted their students to start and run businesses while still studying because they would create jobs and drive change.
“Once we get the whole idea into the students’ DNA of creating value in the lives of others and the idea that generating wealth can be made through a supportive culture rather than one that is suppressive or one-sided, then we will have a whole generation of young people who will know how to do the right things as entrepreneurs or corporate leaders.
“This trailblazing spirit is taught to all our students, not just to a selected few who are deemed to be better academically. That’s our purpose and our commitment to all our students,” she said.
Every day, someone discovers something new. While everything develops at a rapid pace, conventional education systems remain the same and the outdated systems struggle to keep up with all this new information.
To grow trailblazers who are ready to lead tomorrow’s world, it is essential to teach students skills they can use in the future, on top of focusing on academic success.
According to Tham, they are ever ready to bring their expertise to Sarawak if the funding and building are there and the people are willing to take it on.
“But with the leadership that the state has, you guys are really heading in the right direction. I think the state is ready,” she said.