Alan MacGinty - Outhalf
“It is tough to gauge and pin point exactly what improvements you make throughout the year as there are so many factors that contribute to performance. I wanted to gain every competitive advantage I could each week. Playing at a professional level, every player is constantly improving their skills but very few are improving/developing their neurofeedback on top of that. It is a difficult concept to grasp so I let the experts explain it to me slowly! From chatting to Cathal and Michael, I received an incredible amount of information on my brain and identified areas to improve how it functions! Something you don’t get a chance to do very often.
My goals were to improve my focus in training and games and also to improve emotions prior to and during games (e.g. dealing with game day distractions or stress/errors in games/decision making). I usually find myself in situations where I over think things rather than backing my instincts. For personal development I wanted to remove this and let each aspect of my game happen naturally.
As the season progressed I became more relaxed and comfortable in my role which allowed me to perform at a higher level. I will always be frustrated with aspects of my game but I think my recovery or ability to move on certainly improved. There were some massive games throughout the year and for the most part I didn’t let it affect me. My thought process each time was “we are meant to be here and we are certainly good enough to win”. I built confidence from the work I put in each week, my focus in sessions, understanding of game plan and listening to coaches; which I truly believe was improved by the neurofeedback training sessions I was doing each week. The mental side of the game plays a massive role at every level and the opportunity to train and develop this was extremely worthwhile. I’d like to thank Cathal and Michael for their hard work throughout the year and helping us improve as players.”
Denis Buckley - Prop
“My main goals when I undertook the neurofeedback training was to help me improve my decision making, concentration, composure and reduce anxiety in high pressure situations in rugby games and in situations where I am under massive fatigue.
Although it is very hard for me to tangibly judge whether there were improvements or not, I certainly felt like my game management and mental focus improved and had an extremely positive effect on my all round game. It also had positive impacts in all facets of my life, not just on the pitch but off it also, stuff like improved concentration and decision making and reduced anxiety.
I chose neurofeedback training when we were presented with the opportunity at Connacht rugby through actualise, from the research they have done and through some of my own research and from positive feedback I had gotten off my peers who had undertaken it the previous season I said I would give it a go, I wasn't really too sure what to expect but thought that even if it makes 1% difference well that could be enough to help me and help my team to improve.
My experience of neurofeedback training was enjoyable although at times a little bit frustrating, quite hard to explain unless you have undertaken it but some days you have a bit of a block and struggle with the scores which can be frustrating but through hard work and consistent focus the scores did constantly improve just some days faster than others!
Since completing the neurofeedback training I think my performances have improved by being more composed which resulted in me making better decisions and having more effective involvements rather than being quite frantic on the pitch and sometimes being in the wrong place which was a work on for me. I certainly think since doing the training iv often just subconsciously found myself in the right place at the right time a lot more which has vastly improved my game, particularly in areas such as defensive turnovers or in attack when we have put 10 or 15+ phases together, made a lot of yardage and are playing a little bit off the cuff!
I would certainly recommend the neurofeedback training to other athletes, I definitely think it improved my game and even if it is small, those few percent are quiet often the difference between playing at the level you’re at and raising your performance ceiling to heights it hasn’t been at before, I think some of the best rugby I have played has been since doing the training.”
Jack Carty - Outhalf
"Prior to starting the brain training, I found myself after games wondering why I made erratic and silly decisions on the field. The brain training has definitely reduced this from where it was and hopefully will continue to do so. I found as the weeks went on that I have nailed my job on the field rather than trying to do something inaccurate and spur of the moment. I know when it’s the correct moment to try something outside of the basics (individual skill). NFT has reduced my overthinking prior to games which has helped nerves. Noticed a slight improvement in moving on from mistakes on the field. However, still find myself trying to do something spectacular to make up for previous mistake. Still find myself beating myself up over silly errors more out of frustration. Anxiety and stress prior to a game is controlled and find I’m in a better focus on the day of games. Find my basics have improved somewhat. I am training as well/good as I ever have. I believe that these improvements are in some cases translating on field. The inconsistency comes when I make a mistake and try to fix it rather than doing the next job.”
Matt Healy - Winger
“There were aspects of my game, which I felt NFT could potentially help with. Things like confidence, decision-making and consistency, as well as general feelings of anxiety (rugby and non-rugby related) were things I was interested in ‘training’. There have been definite improvements in feelings of anxiousness in the run up to games, as well as slight improvements in levels of anxiety in everyday life (sleep has generally been improved, although not a huge issue to begin with). Hard to draw conclusions on consistency as many other factors affect on-pitch play. In the moments of ‘good play’ over the last few weeks, they have felt more natural, with overthinking probably slightly reduced. Again, slight improvements have been noticed in the lead up to games. Again, I’ve felt improvements in confidence have benefitted my game (in the moments of ‘good play’) over the past few weeks. In line with slight improvements in confidence and ‘over-thinking’, feelings of self-doubt have been minimal over the past number of weeks, which is a positive development in terms of performance.”
Craig Ronaldson - Outhalf
"I was interested in NFT mainly for the potential to improve certain aspects of my game and the presentation excited me about the possibility of using my brain more effectively. [I have not noticed a difference] because I have been injured for a large part of the schedule I have not been on the pitch as much and so haven’t had a huge chance to notice many changes. Nothing really jumped out for me I feel the fact I wasn’t in many pressurized game-like scenarios played a large part in that because of my injury. The main improvement I did feel was in my communication on the pitch which was mainly subconsciously."
John Cooney - Scrumhalf
“Firstly, I thought it sounded very interesting. I liked the idea of trying something different in order to improve my performance on the pitch. Secondly anything to do with improving the way your brain works can be utilized hugely for rugby. Decision-making is a massive part of my position.
It has aided my sleep quality. I’ve found that I’ve been sleeping deeper and have less disruptive sleeps. The thought that you are improving mentally can even have an almost placebo effect. I believe I’m improving which can make all the difference.”
Eoin McKeon - Back Row
“The main reason [I wanted to use NFT] was to improve myself from a mental side of things. I was attracted to this new form of training as I think it will be a bigger area for training in the future. There hasn’t been a huge difference, but the noticeable difference is the reduction of decision-making errors. Still find it hard to keep concentration. Given last weekend’s game against the No. 1 ranked team [Glasgow Warriors] and all that was riding on it, I felt quite calm pre-game. It’s hard to say whether my performance has been affected. I would say that my decision-making has been sharper, where the execution could still be better. Although there hasn’t been a ‘eureka’ moment as such, I am privileged to be given the opportunity to better myself as a player and given the scientific findings/results, I would be happy to continue the training. I also think this area will have a lot more focus on it in the future.”
Kieran Marmion - Scrum Half
“[Following the Actualise presentation] I became more aware of how I can use my brain within rugby… [I wanted] to get as much as I can out of my brain to help me on the rugby pitch. I felt slightly more focused when training to develop my core skills within every repetition on the rugby pitch. NFT has helped to focus on set parts of my kicking (i.e. breaking down individual parts of technique). It has helped me to really nail down my role and know what I have to do (making it second nature). I have felt more confidence and more clear about my roles and actions.”
"Neurofeedback really helped with my concentration on and off the pitch. There were noticeable changes in how I play. My movement and positioning on and off the ball has improved. I don’t panic as much as I used too. Instead I’m making better decisions (i.e. not panicking and actually picking out the correct pass). The whole process was tiring but at the same time rewarding. I always slept well at night after a Neurofeedback session. My concentration levels definitely have improved in work and college. I would definitely recommend it to a friend who is serious about their sport."
"As a result of Neurofeedback, I feel I am concentrating a lot more in games which has improved my performance. Not only on the pitch but in college I have noticed a difference. My concentration levels are a lot higher resulting in better grades. I’m not as tired as I used to be. I would recommend it to other sportspeople as it has enhanced my performance both on and off the pitch."
"I felt that neurofeedback benefited my training as I felt I was able to stay better concentrated during games – the neurofeedback made me feel more focused and concentrated during games. I felt that my sleeping patterns had been improved due to the neurofeedback. I would definitely recommend neurofeedback training to other sports people as I feel it helped me with the sports I currently play."
"I believe that neurofeedback affected my performance in that I found it less effort to maintain information relayed to me by my trainers. This improved my performance as it allowed me keep with the game plan and overall improve my performance and that of the team.
I found that the neurofeedback had a vast impact on other areas of my everyday life. I believe that it caused me to need less sleep as I was working in a bar during the sessions and I should have been more tired but this was not the case and I lay this at neurofeedback. In addition I also found that I had the ability to sleep where ever I wanted even if the environment was loud like a train or bus.
I found that the neurofeedback sessions may have caused me to feel fatigued as if I was just after completing an exam but this feeling soon left after the session were completed. I would highly recommend this session to a friend but I would warn them that it does take up a large amount of time which I really didn’t pay attention too in the first place."
"I felt that the Neurofeedback training that I took part in definitely had a positive impact on my sports performance. I noticed this as I felt more comfortable when playing following a Neurofeedback session and I also performed better in a number of games. I felt that it was only when participating in sports that I saw the influence of my Neurofeedback training. I did not notice any change when doing daily activities. I did not feel any different when doing my Neurofeedback training; it just felt like something extra to do during the day. I enjoyed the experience and I would recommend it to friends as I feel it would be beneficial to them and it would help increase their sports performance."