GLENDALE, Ariz. — Professional athletes know how to train their bodies, but this offseason, one White Sox pitcher worked to get his head in the game by giving his mind a new workout.
Through neurofeedback, White Sox pitcher Dylan Cease uses different kinds of mind games to help improve focus and regulate stress, anxiety and emotions. It's been used for years by mental health professionals to help treat patients with seizures, attention deficit disorder, depression, PTSD and autism.
Cease isn’t the first professional athlete to hook up to the technology, and it’s no surprise he did. The 23-year-old regularly practices breathing techniques and meditation to improve his mind-body connection. But it wasn’t his guru who turned him on to neurofeedback, but rather positive reviews from teammate Lucas Giolito.
When Giolito started talking up the therapy at spring training, his teammate tuned in.
During one of his daily sessions, sensors placed on Cease's head allow him to see his brain’s electrical activity. Then he focuses on optimizing the patterns. The next phase is visualization, 24 minutes of simply relaxing and being in tune with his thoughts.
In the end, doctors say results of neurofeedback have been mixed in clinical trials, but could be useful if people find it helps. Cease says he's hoping to knock out 30 neurofeedback sessions before the start of the season.