Great athleticism doesn’t just happen from the neck down and great minds don’t only rely on everything above the shoulders. There is clear and growing proof that the relationship between our minds and bodies are key for reaching our real potential.
This applies to professional gaming as well. The image of the overweight, out of breath gamer is outdated. Today’s competitive gamers have to operate at the best of their abilities, which means they must focus equally on their mental and physical wellbeing.
“I am a firm believer in the Latin phrase ‘Mens sana in corpore sano’, which translates as ‘a healthy mind in a healthy body’,” says Dimitri ‘Detrony’ Hadjipaschali, a Counter-Strike pro gamer playing for esports group Bravado. “In short, this suggests that physical exercise is important for your psychological well-being. With that said, I know that getting into an active routine can be challenging, but whether or not one enjoys it – it should certainly be a part of your lifestyle!”
Bravado, sponsored by Alienware and Intel, is South Africa’s leading esports group. It emphasises players being at their physical and mental best. This has led to a collaboration with Professor Peet du Toit, who specializes in Exercise- and Neuroscience research at the University of Pretoria. His work makes it clear that the mind-body relationship is one of the most critical components for success.
“The combination of brain flexibility, brain fitness, health-related fitness and skill-related fitness is what creates top performance. Exercise plays an important role in brain health and neuroplasticity. But a healthy body also follows a balanced brain. If you focus on both, you get incredible results.”
The rise of Neuro-Agility
Prof du Toit promotes Neuro-Agility, a new innovation in neuroscience that can help develop the super learning powers people require. Neuro-Agility focuses on the six drivers that optimize brain health and performance and its impact on seven neurological components of learning, thinking and cognitive processes. These two dimensions will have an impact on performance of individuals and determine their competitive advantage.
One would think gaming doesn’t qualify. Games have a reputation for making our brains lazy and slow. But Prof du Toit disagrees with this, citing academic research that reveals the benefits of gaming:
“Strategy video games have shown promise in improving cognitive control, reasoning, and higher-order cognitive skills, and stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as long as possible. Gaming may also be a viable treatment for depression and mild cognitive impairment. However, cognitive training should come second to physical activity programs when it comes to improving cognition, brain function and structure.”
This last point is very important and why Bravado has asked Prof du Toit to use his insights to improve the performance of its esports athletes. This is accomplished through several ways which can be subdivided into different areas: brain fitness, stress coping skills, sleep, movement, mindset, hydration, body weight, resting heart rate, wellness, pain, performance, energy levels and brain foods.
Using a program designed around these factors, Bravado’s gamers have access to numerous exercises that help engage their minds and improve mental elasticity. This not only includes boosting brain flexibility and promoting positive information channels – a crucial factor for brain health – but also balancing brain waves and promoting the use of both brain hemispheres.
“Most people are homolaterally fit, which means they mostly only use one hemisphere of their brain,” Prof du Toit explained. “We are capable of being bilaterally fit using both hemispheres. There are ways to train for this, as well as to improve focus, concentration and shifting mental gears.”
The big brains of Bravado
In the cutthroat world of professional gaming, split seconds can determine victory or defeat. By using the research and products developed by Prof du Toit and his team, Bravado will gain an edge over the competition.
“Having a balanced lifestyle which includes physical and social activity alongside your gaming certainly does improve your gameplay,” said Dimitri. “Needless to say, it also improves your general health, which is always good! Being physically active aids your overall mindset and state of mind. This is especially the case if you are making a career out of esports or even playing semi-professionally. Exercise improves your personal skill, boosts your confidence as well as your ambition and drive.”
Bravado members are being assessed for their individual Neuro Agility (NAP) and Body Agility (BAP) Profiles. These are the benchmarks from which they then improve their performance, using the Limitless You Neurolink Peak Performance Program (LYNPPP). The program includes brain and body agility activities, many of which can be done in the comfort of one’s bedroom, as well as nutritional products that will, among many benefits, optimize performance, enhance cognitive ability, reduce stress, reduce inflammation, increased energy levels, give resistance to fatigue and impact productivity. Enhanced cognitive ability will result in increased receptiveness, perceptiveness, mental alertness, memory, attention, focussing and energy levels.
“NAP, BAP and LYNPPP were born and are grounded in applied neuroscience,” said Prof du Toit. “These aren’t just more instruments with an added neuroscience flavour. It is a predictive analysis that serves as a framework for professionals and individuals in talent development and performance improvement. It can identify potential, select talent, develop talent, improve engagement, promote brain health, minimize risk for human error, improve happiness and lift gaming performance.”
Any serious esports competitor will agree that you have to look after both your mind and body to be at your best. Top players don’t just game but participate in a range of activities that promote their physical health, stimulate their minds and strengthen their social connections. Such habits, combined with a good diet and focused improvement through something such as LYNPPP, are what create champions.
“If we want to be the best, we have to outlearn, outthink, outtrain and out-create our competition,” said Andreas Hadjipaschali, CEO of Bravado Gaming. “The collaboration with Prof. du Toit and LYNPPP will help create that edge for Bravado.”