Head in the Game: The Mental Engineering of the World's Greatest Athletes

Head in the Game: The Mental Engineering of the World's Greatest Athletes

by Brandon Sneed


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Head in the Game: The Mental Engineering of the World's Greatest Athletes by Brandon Sneed

The next frontier of sports training doesn’t rest with the body, but with the mind

For years, common wisdom has held that athletic performance is rooted in genetics and peak physical enhancement of the body. But journalist Brandon Sneed has another idea: that mental engineering — training the cognitive process of the brain — presents yet a new level of sports performance, and that athletes, despite already being at the top of the genetic pool, can actually become better. 

This is a watershed idea — the conscious alteration of our brains can have drastic effects, so much so that elite athletes around the world are already seeing incredible results: stars like Steph Curry, Kerri Walsh Jennings, Russell Wilson, and dozens others are experimenting with this concept. They are hooking their brains to computers and using other cutting-edge technology that seems like stuff out of sci-fi movies to get at the root of their respective performance. What they are finding helps them is eye-opening, powerful, and, in their words, “life-changing.”

In Head in the Game, Sneed takes on a mesmerizing tour of what seems to be a new frontier in performance enhancement, from neuroscience labs at Duke, to the Super Bowl, to the mountains of Patagonia, to the Taj Mahal of virtual reality, to the jungles of Peru, and beyond. Anchoring all of this is a dynamic cast of characters, from the director of human performance at Red Bull, to the former Nike higher-up who left to start his own cognitive engineering company, to the drug addict who built sensory deprivation chambers in a fit of near-madness only to find them in high demand by the world’s best athletes, to paradigm-shattering neuroscientists who have created technology that allows athletes to look at their brains using a headset and a smartphone, and many more.

What does all of this add up to? Not only is it dramatically altering the gazillion-dollar and ever-expanding landscape of sports business, and revolutionizing how teams and owners analyze athletes — it is changing the way we think about how athletes do what they do, and what we might learn from them. Most of all, this is not going away. 

In turns comical and revelatory, shocking and thrilling, thoughtful and moving, Head in the Game brings a new level of understanding to what is possible for our world’s elite athletes — and what is possible for all of us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062455932
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/28/2017
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 632,433
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Brandon Sneed is an author and journalist. He recently joined B/R Mag at Bleacher Report as a features writer. Previously, his stories have appeared in Outside, ESPN The Magazine, and more, and have twice been not-able selections in Best American Sports Writing. When Brandon’s not on the road, his home base is Greenville, North Carolina, where he lives with his wife, toddler son, the baby in his wife’s belly, and their two dogs, a Jack Russell Terrier and a half—Jack Russell half—pit bull. For news about Brandon’s work and events, or just to say hey, visit brandonsneed.com.

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Conspiracy 1

Part 1 The Mind

Chapter 1 Two Very Different Brains 13

Chapter 2 A Way Beyond the Labels 31

Chapter 3 "Holy Hell! This Is So Exciting!" 43

Chapter 4 Home of the Mind 61

Chapter 5 The Problem and Inevitable Death of Stigma 71

Chapter 6 New Ways to See Old Stuff 93

Part 2 The Body

Chapter 7 The Power of a Proper Breath 133

Chapter 8 Rule the Body, Rule the Mind 135

Chapter 9 This Is Your Brain on Drugs 151

Chapter 10 Shocking Potential 173

Chapter 11 A Delightful Hijacking 189

Part 3 The Craft

Chapter 12 The Phrase of Death 211

Chapter 13 Gaming the Brain 219

Chapter 14 Training Times One Hundred 237

Chapter 15 "And Shoot, It's Real!" 251

Chapter 16 Window to the Brain 271

Part 4 The Spirit

Chapter 17 Project Acheron 291

Chapter 18 Psyehedelica 303

Chapter 19 Deprivation 333

Epilogue The Results 337

Acknowledgments 347

Notes and Sources 351

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