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The Sports Tomorrow Congress, which is taking place starting this Monday morning as part of the Mobile World Congress, has ended its first day with a session about mental preparation in elite basketball which also featured Barça basketball shooting guard Cory Higgins.
The player from the USA shared the stage with Albert Mundet, Barça Innovation Hub director in an interview format contribution in which he detailed the keys to his psychological approach to the game.
Higgins: “Mental preparation is the number one reason for my success”
The shooting guard from Saras Jasikevicius' team admitted "mental preparation is the number one reason" for his success. On whether it is something that can be trained or is something that can only come with experience, Higgins revealed "you can train and you have to learn it." He continued: "Mental pressure is a personal thing and your mental preparation can tell you which thoughts are useful and which no."
Higgins went to explain that he practices meditation and that failure "even though it is scary, the more you experience it, the more comfortable it makes you feel in dealing with results." He added: "When you accept things, they end up fixing themselves." About advice given to Michael Jordan, who happens to be his godfather, he revealed: "Be yourself and control only that which is in your hands." Higgins showed during the interviews that he is role model when it comes to mental preparation in elite sport and he admitted it is a subject about which he is passionate.
Neuroscience and cognitive training
The other afternoon sessions had medicine as their central theme. In the first, neuroscience was discussed with David Bartrés, a neuropsychologist from the University of Barcelona, who has developed the concept of resilience, which is the ability of the individual to overcome traumatic situations and how physical exercise can enhance a series of synergies in our brain networks.
The next session discussed cognitive training and the intelligence of play, examining such concepts as anticipation, the interpretation of plays and the decision-making among athletes. "Elite players are better positioned in these aspects from an early age but we don't know if there is a genetic predisposition; we know that this starts to be noticed from the age of eight, but these types of skills are developed with practice", recalled Mark Williams, from the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in Florida. Williams was accompanied in this session by Gabriele Cattaneo, neuropsychologist at the Guttmann Institute, and Alan McCall, head of performance and research at Arsenal.
Concussions and high-performance computing
There was also a session on concussions in which Edwin Goedhart, head of the medical services of the Football Federation of the Netherlands, and the neurologist from Hospital Clínic, Àlex Iranzo, looked, respectively, into the acute effects of these injuries and the long-term consequences that include an increased risk of suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia or Parkinson's, among others. This session was chaired by FC Barcelona first team doctor Xavier Valle.
The day ended with a look at new businesses based on Artificial Intelligence and supercomputing. Josep Maria Martorell, associate director of the Barcelona Supercomputing Center; Lluís Pareras, founder of Invivo Capital, and Xavier Ferràs, professor of Data Science at ESADE reviewed how supercomputers have helped to create digital models of human organs that have been used to improve surgical techniques. In the Barça context, they have made it possible to predict the movement of people in such a huge stadium as Spotify Camp Nou, with the aim of optimizing supporter flow at the gates. They also talked about the huge amounts of investment in R&D by governments worldwide and defined the immediate future as "the golden age of innovation", and one that we can already perceive with tools like Chat GPT.
These sessions were followed by the second Allianz Startup Challenge, which rewards innovative and disruptive proposals created to generate a positive impact in the world of sport.
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