Caption: Brain training with poker could be key in helping soccer players reach their full potential on the field.
Brain Training: How Regular Poker Play Could Help Soccer Stars Succeed
An athlete’s brain is their most vital organ. It controls how the body functions, and it needs to be cultivated and disciplined just like the muscles do. Those in the industry are constantly searching for new ways to help soccer players get their heads in the game, and it turns out that poker can help immensely. By sharpening cognitive function, increasing social awareness, and improving mental endurance, poker enables athletes to rise to the occasion for peak performance on the field.
Sharpening Mental Dexterity & Brain Function
We all know that poker is a fun pastime, but the benefits extend far beyond entertainment. Playing poker over an extended period can actually boost the brain’s health by strengthening neural pathways and increasing grey matter in the hippocampus, middle frontal gyrus, and cingulate cortex. Those who play regularly display well-developed critical thinking skills and the ability to make rapid and accurate decisions.
These abilities can help soccer players out on the field where the brain must remain on high alert and function impeccably throughout the game. Everything can change in a matter of seconds during a soccer match, and players must adjust their tactics to suit the current situation.
Rapid strategizing takes a lot of intense thinking, and coaches can help their players remain sharp and build up the required mental function by incorporating poker into a training regimen.
However, athletes don’t necessarily have to gather and play as a group to reap the rewards of brain training with poker. While it’s true that in-person games allow participants to interact on a more personal level, online poker has its own unique benefits that cannot be ignored.
For one, athletes who choose to play on the internet may partake in multiple games at once. This enables the brain to build up mental dexterity by swiftly determining the different strategic needs at each table, then implementing each strategy simultaneously across the games.
Playing poker online also requires less hassle than an in-person training session or planned group game. It provides a safe space for training at any time, and players can engage from anywhere they happen to be. This leeway allows athletes to fit poker into their schedule, giving them more space and freedom to practice when and where they prefer.
Increasing Awareness & Reading Opponents
Caption: Training with poker helps players increase social awareness and perform well as a unit against other teams.
Poker definitively has a social aspect. Players must closely scrutinize each other, learning to read others’ body language and facial expressions. Interpreting these emotional cues correctly enables them to gauge an opponent’s strategy and predict the game’s possible outcomes.
Given the high level of interaction that goes on at the table, it’s no surprise that engaging in regular play can increase intrapersonal skills and allow players to develop more profound levels of social awareness and emotional intelligence.
Improving these intrapersonal skills will help soccer players function better as a unit on the field. Because the game relies heavily on formation and teamwork, players with well-developed social awareness will look to their teammates and use their emotional intelligence to determine which course of action is best in any situation.
Developing the ability to read opponents at the poker table also gives soccer players an advantage when it comes to time to square off with their opponents one-on-one. By studying an individual’s body language and facial expressions during a match, players will be able to interpret their emotions and anticipate specific moves that an individual may employ.
If every player has an adequate level of intrapersonal skills and emotional intelligence, the team will function like a well-oiled machine. By merely displaying their capacity to be a highly cohesive unit, a team establishes themselves as a force to be reckoned with. And when the opposing team realizes what they’re up against, they could be knocked off their own mental game—adding an extra layer of advantage from the very start.
Improving Concentration & Endurance
Professional card players must concentrate for hours at the table. While many games move along quickly, some Texas hold ’em tournaments can last for days. Players need to stay focused throughout the process, despite the gruelling hours and the pressure to win. The good news is that because poker helps increase cognitive abilities, it also improves memory, focus, and concentration.
With more time spent at the table, a player’s mental endurance will become stronger. It won’t be so hard to hold concentration for more extended periods once players become accustomed to it, and enduring excessive hours won’t seem so difficult. For soccer players, this type of development is a powerful tool to use during games.
The best female soccer players must display high levels of concentration and incredible endurance as they perform, and it’s not just physical. While well-developed muscles and lightning-fast reflexes are essential, mental fortitude is also imperative to keep the mind on track and in the game.
When players develop focus with games like poker, they’ll find their capacity for concentration and endurance increases exponentially on the field as well.
Since poker provides an entertaining outlet to develop their skills, soccer players will be eager to dive in. Not only will they get to improve their mental game, but they’ll have a chance to blow off some steam at the same time. This is a recipe for the perfect tool, and professional soccer players and their coaches would do well to incorporate card games into a regular training regimen.
The WSU Team bringing you news and updates from the world of women’s football.