How does an athlete’s brain work when split-second decisions make all the difference between winning and losing in game situations?
S2 Cognition, (www.s2cognition.com) a science-meets-tech-meets-sports startup with just a 5-year history, has cracked that code. And the sports world, from the big leagues to the youth leagues, is paying close attention.
Co-founders and cognitive neuroscientists Dr. Brandon Ally and Dr. Scott Wylie, both former college athletes and previously research and clinical colleagues at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, have succeeded in measuring and quantifying the previously unseen characteristics of the brain that separate elite athletes from the rest of the pack.
With 10 Major League Baseball Clubs, four NFL franchises and numerous NCAA and youth league programs under contract, S2 Cognition is charting a solid growth pattern.
“Our delivery platform for the evaluation is a specially-designed laptop computer with millisecond precision,” Dr. Ally said. “In a 30-45 minute test, we are able to learn detailed information about a player’s visual processing, instinctive read-react, and motor control skills. It’s these kinds of cognitive processes that allow a coach to know how a hitter makes split-second decisions about each pitch, or how a quarterback reads and reacts to the defense while executing a precision throw.”
After the evaluation, the player and/or his or her coach is given a sport-specific analysis of strengths and potential shortcomings based on the way the player’s brain is “wired” to make rapid decisions.
“Every athlete brings a unique set of physical skills and cognitive instincts to the game,” Dr. Wylie said. “We can now measure the cognitive instincts and develop sport-specific training strategies and drills to help athletes be the best decision-makers they can be given their specific brain wiring. We’ve learned we can actually move the needle on performance,” Dr. Wylie added. “The on-field training strategies we have developed are based on the science of how these decision systems work and can help every athlete perform better, even the elite level pro athlete.”
S2 Cognition CEO Tom Noland, who has been with the company since its beginning, declined to disclose financial results to date beyond a description of annual revenues in the growth phase. He noted that with a current data base encompassing the “brain wiring” of over 7,000 athletes across nine sports, including the very highest level of professional talent, the client universe is likely to expand, in both sports and non-sports fields.
“Our data base,” Noland said, “allows any athlete who is tested to see how he or she stacks up against their peers of the same age and experience level, and also how they stack up against the very best. In the long term, we believe our breakthrough scientific approach has the potential to change the future of sports.”
The largest numbers of S2 Cognition clients to date are in baseball and football, but the company also has custom, sport-specific programs and S2 evaluation reports for softball, basketball, soccer, hockey, golf, volleyball and lacrosse. For further information on S2 Cognition including a sample S2 Evaluation Report, please see www.s2cognition.com.