GTP TV: Ep 17 – How to Add Neural Complexity

Hey, it’s Maria. Welcome to Goalie Training Pro TV, episode 17. Today we’re talking about adding neural complexity to drills. What is that?

Just in case, here is the YouTube link if you want to watch it there >>

Basically, the point of this escapade is gonna be that, just more is sometimes more, and not necessarily better. So, you know, almost anytime I post a video on YouTube of a drill, someone will be like, oh, I do one kind of like that, except I’m jumping on a Bosu ball, and then my coach is throwing medicine balls at me, and then I’m … you know, and it’s like, okay. Awesome, there’s a lot going on, but it’s a lot of chaos.

Sometimes chaos is good and sometimes, you know, you might get chaos like that once a season, and if you can come up with the save, it’s worth it, right? But, we also want to invest a lot of time in just, having quality movement, and adding layers of chaos to build on the competency.

It’s like, If I was trying to learn a new language, and you just started off using the most advanced grammar and things like that, I’m gonna really struggle to pick it up. Whereas, if you just start and teach me like, well, this is how you say hello. This is how you say, hello, my names is. This is how you say, where is the bathroom, and then, start adding layers. It’s exactly the same thing.

So it has its place… Think of it like, adding hot sauce to your burrito, right? You can always add more, but if you put too much, and you know what, don’t even do it, because I know one of you is gonna be like, “I like so much hot sauce. I just can put so much hot sauce on my burrito and it doesn’t even bug me.” I know. I get it. I’m just trying to make an analogy here, okay? So just, relax. But if you put too much on off the bat, it’s pretty hard to scrape it off.

So, how do we do it? The first thing is proficient movement.

Very few things drive me more bonkers than seeing neural complexity added to a motors drill that there isn’t a level of competence yet. So, if we have … You see this in a camp, or with young kids all the time, you know, they’re in the rope ladder and they’re around, and then the coach is throwing a ball at them.

Their ankle position’s terrible. They’re not low. They’re not staying square. They’re all over the place. It’s like, the quality of that pattern has to be taught first. So, we want to get that pattern squared away.

The second thing is (not exclusively) think about using visual cues as you go, so it’s something that the goalie has to pick up with their eyes, and respond. So, I’ll give you an example. A really simple example is, if we’re going a knee recovery lateral push. So, I’m gonna do a knee recovery, a lateral push, and balance. That’s the basic drill.

So, if I’m doing my knee recovery lateral push, and I’m not stable at all, I don’t need neural complexity. I just need to practice and get it right. But, if I can stabilize my torso nice, and drive across and get that balance position, hey, that look good. Now, we’ll had neural complexity.

We can do it just like this. The coach standing just out there. The goalie’s in the right position, and as a coach, you’re gonna give either here, or here. So again, if it’s right, I’m gonna come up. Boom, and go that direction. It’s a visual cue I have to pick up on, rather than saying, “Right.” Then it’s like, oh, I hear it, and then it goes to my brain, and then it gets up and respond.

This is something I see, that I have to interpret, and then give a motor response to it.

Now, you’re gonna say, “well, I don’t have a trainer or strength coach to work with me.” You can do a similar thing, and this is what I do with goalies that I train online. We’ll use these little playing cards. It’s a little mini deck of cards. You can also use a regular deck of cards.

So you can say, whatever. You can say, okay, if it’s a red card. I’m gonna go right. If it’s a back card, I’m gonna go left. Then I just flip up the card. It’s black. I’m gonna go left. So again, it’s a visual thing that I have to interpret and respond to.

So then, let’s say we did a ladder. We do this in our ladder drills quite a bit. Let’s say we’re doing a ladder drill pattern. The coach could just hold up fingers. The coach could hold up one finger and the athlete would say, “One, three, two.” The coach is just silently holding up their fingers and the athlete is calling out the numbers.

So if you’re just nailing this, boom, boom, boom, a next step would be the coach could hold up one finger on each hand, or like fingers on each hand, and you add them together. You know, so you have to do that math in your head.

Now, I know what some of you are gonna do. Some of you are gonna pick the hardest one and go straight to it, and then I’m gonna be very, very disappointed. Don’t do that.

Another one you can do that challenges the motor pattern more, so not so much just the cognitive part, but the motor pattern, is coach can point backwards or forward. So if I’m coming here, forwards, the coach points backwards.

Then I have to keep my pattern, but I also have to keep my head up.

You can do it, if the sum is even, you keep going forward. If the sum is odd, then you go backwards. So, you can see that would be a lot harder to have to sum and then decide what you’re going to do.

But, you guys have to do the same thing on the ice… you have to know, okay, whose on the ice? How can this play develop? What are some of the possibilities, while you’re just focusing on your task at the same time. You can’t be like, oh, let me think about this, you know? You’ve got to keep going.

Oh yeah, this is another one. So this is another cognitive load one. So, we would have an athlete in the ladder. Let’s just say we’re doing an in and out pattern. They have to count backwards from 30 by whatever number you shout out. If I shout out a “2,” 30, 28, 26… Now I shout out “5,” 30, 25, 20, and they have to keep going while they’re doing the pattern. (See how I picked really easy numbers to count backwards? I wasn’t born yesterday.)

So, my point is, doing the agility juggling. Say, I’m doing agility ladder and I’m juggling… it’s hard. Even if I’m doing agility ladder fast and juggling, it’s hard. It’s really hard when I’m learning. Then there is a cognitive demand figuring out how to use my hands to do that juggling properly.

Once I get good at it, then it’s just a dexterity thing. I kind of know how to do it. Maybe I make some fine adjustments, but it’s not really that cognitively demanding. You’re not really consciously having to process information and make decisions.

So, I like this way. It’s really similar to when you’re on the ice, or what I like when I see on the ice. Let’s say you’re working a bit on rebound control. Well, maybe to start with, you know where the shot’s coming from and you’re just trying to work on, you know, with your blocker and with your pad, putting the puck where you want it. So, you know that the shot’s gonna come from here. It’s gonna hit your pad and go where you want it, and you’re gonna track it.

Well, then maybe it’s like, okay, you’re doing that really, really well. You’ve got a feel for it. Well, now the shot might come from either side, and you’re gonna track it. Okay, that’s working great, so now you’re gonna come from your right post. You’re gonna push across to your left post, and you’re gonna direct that puck into the corner.

Then, it might be like, okay, you don’t know which side it’s gonna come from, so then, one of the shooters are gonna shoot. You have to respond and put the puck where you want it. It’s the same kind of thing. We do it exactly the same way off the ice (or we should).

For yourself, if you’re coach, the movement quality has to stay excellent. So, if we start … If we’ve got nice movement quality and then we add in cognitive demand, and it starts to go haywire. You have stop and just try taking half a step back. See if it cleans it up. I don’t mind so much if it’s a little slower, to start with, as long as it’s good. The speed will come. It is hard and it takes getting used to, but the quality of movement has to be there.

Okay… So the last thing for you guys. Turning Pro coaching program and camps are now sold out. We have an awesome group. I’ll be sending details and pictures and stuff from our camps. We have camp in Detroit, Vancouver and Toronto. Those are coming up in April and May. You can still apply, if you wish. You’ll just go right on to the waiting list, so that’s fine.

Plus, we’re gonna see a bunch of you at the Rocky Mountain mentorship in Breckenridge, the Network Goal Tending symposium in Nashville, we’re gonna be out at the East Coast Goal Tending convention, and then back out east again for Goal Tending Consultant Group, and stop at Goal Tending Prospects Camp, and then there’s a bunch of other stuff. It’s March and it’s like, when am I ever gonna be home this summer? But, a bunch of other stuff we’re filling in, so I’m pretty excited to tell you more about that stuff.

For now, this is Goalie Training Pro TV episode number 17 on adding neural complexity to your training.

Sometimes more is just more. Hot sauce on the burrito. See ya.