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NeuroTrainer might be the wave of the future for athletes (Omaha World Herald)

Published in The Omaha World Herald
Written by Dirk Chatelain

NeuroTrainer technology is a big part of sports performance training being used by volleyball athletes in Nebraska.

Lindsay Krause has no limits on a volleyball court.

She earned a Husker scholarship before she started high school, won four state titles at Skutt Catholic and a world championship for the USA junior team in Egypt. At 6-foot-4, she crushes kills with grace and ferocity.

Her mother, JoAnna, has seen it all. At least, she thought so. Then one night in 2020, Lindsay stood in JoAnna’s bedroom and entered a world of virtual reality, training her mind just as she exercises her body.

“It’s straight out of a science-fiction movie,” JoAnna said.

With a headset over her eyes, Lindsay batted virtual shapes at robots and dodged virtual balls from cannons. Watching outside the headset, all Mom observed was Lindsay twisting, leaning, waving her arms and arguing with the VR narrator.

“She was swearing at it at one point,” JoAnna said. “She’s such a perfectionist.”

For generations, mental exercises have supplemented athletic training. Meditation. Visualization. Even hypnosis. But technology has opened new doors in sports performance, especially in Omaha, where a Silicon Valley invention — NeuroTrainer — is gaining momentum.

In a world of short attention spans, NeuroTrainer hones focus, improving reaction time, peripheral vision, multi-tasking and decision-making, all traits that translate to real competition.

“It’s like I see everything a lot quicker on the court,” Krause said. “The game slowed down.”

NeuroTrainer has received testimonials from pro athletes in several sports. But a small group of local investors has helped turn Omaha into the training platform’s home base for high school athletes. What began in 2019 with one program — UNO hockey — has expanded to more than 20 high school and club teams, mostly volleyball.

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The Gretna Elite Academy’s United Women’s Soccer Club has been using NeuroTrainer this summer and are seeing positive results. “I’ve taken a lot more shots and take players one on one more,” Prokop said. “I think it’s my decision making that’s changed a lot and I’ve scored like seven goals in six games.”