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Peak Achievement Trainer® Review by Dr. Noel Blundell"As a sport psychologist who spends much of my time with elite professional athletes I am forever searching for an edge to assist my clientele. The notions expressed by Dr. Jon Cowan relative to his Peak Achievement Trainer (PAT) appeared attractive and in concert with my professional philosophies. Having been in private practice for 25 years in the international sporting arena, it is imperative that my clientele fully capitalize on their potential, otherwise my practice would very soon be decimated.
So it was with keen interest that I spoke with Dr. Jon Cowan and ultimately purchased a Peak Achievement Trainer. I posed several questions:
1. Would it meet the advertised claims in the real world of elite sport?
2. Would the PAT results reflect accurately the demands of the varying sporting environments?
3. Would the PAT be accepted by elite international athletes in a range of sports as a valid measure of key aspects of their psychological performance?
4. Could the PAT be used productively as an evaluative and educational tool?
Initial exploratory work has been undertaken with a number of elite athletes. These include a multiple world squash champion; world champions in 2 different sailing classes; other world championship sailing competitors; top 10 world ranked slalom canoeists; arguably Australia’s greatest V8 Supercar (comparable to NASCAR in the USA) champion; an international equestrian; elite touring professional golfers; and elite professional tennis players, as well as elite international junior tennis players and golfers.
It must be stressed that the work was exploratory and ongoing. However, a number of outcome trends were clearly evident.
First, it was found that fluctuations in the athlete’s focus and arousal/alertness were clearly reflective of the varying demands of the environment in which they were competing.
This was particularly evident in the potentially more dangerous sports of V8 Supercar racing, slalom canoeing and yachting (moth) class, where alertness and arousal consistently fluctuated according to changes in the environmental demands. Moreover, the athletes confirmed that measures obtained relative to fluctuations in focus and alertness and use of a micro break were an accurate representation of their perceptions of what occurred in the heat of competition.
Even though the majority of the sports involving the athletes were very open sports which required attention to move flexibly and smoothly from scanning the environment to narrow focus, and vice versa, it was found that the world champion performers had superior capacities to narrow their focus of attention. Moreover, they seemed to achieve this task with relative ease, were able to sustain their focus longer, and with the expenditure of less mental energy.
This was particularly evident in the world champion squash player when competing against male top 50 world ranked professionals. Her quality of focus seemed to unlock a chain reaction in patterns of play and anticipation that went beyond the measured parameters. It assisted her in picking up the flight of her opponent’s shots early which, in turn, enabled her to quickly position herself effectively in the court, providing her with a range of shot options. This, in turn, enabled her to hit shots to positions on the court that limited the range of shot options that were available to her opponent. Because of the limitations placed on her opponent, it seemed that her focus was easily sustained. She was able to establish a pattern of play that enabled her to dictate against quality opposition. This process proved an excellent coaching educational tool for both the attending coaches and other international players, elite professionals and world class junior players.
The integration of the dynamics of on court play with fluctuations/sustainability of focus and alertness proved a powerful tool. The PAT also proved a particularly valuable and accurate measure of changes in arousal level when several athletes were tested applying intervention stress management strategies (e.g. centering).
No matter how potent an instrument may appear to professionals in the sport psychology field, ultimately, it must be respected by elite international performers as having real value. There has been clear support from all the elite athletes tested thus far, to the degree that I have no hesitation in using the PAT with any of my elite clientele.
Moreover, some have suggested creative ways that they would like to explore in using the PAT to enhance their performance and gain a further competitive edge. These ideas are presently being explored.
Neurofeedback provided by the Peak Achievement Trainer confirmed in a number of ways to the World Champions and other elite world class performers, that what they were perceiving relative to their attention distribution and arousal control was in fact, accurate and productively contributing to their performance.
This, in fact, further enhances their self confidence and encourages them to continue down the psychological pathways outlined. Moreover, it highlighted areas in the performance dynamic where they suspected that they had “fallen short” and subsequently, they attacked these issues with commitment and energy.
When it is part of a sport psychologist’s tools of trade to illustrate quality and distribution of focus, fluctuations in arousal level/alertness in behavioral and sport specific performance terms, the PAT provides a clear, visible and immediate representation of these psychological factors and performance correlates. The clarity of this representation is invaluable to both the athlete and the consultant psychologist as both an evaluative and educational tool.
Clearly, even at this early stage of exploratory work relative to the PAT, the outcome trends satisfied the questions I posed relative to (1) it met the advertised claims (2) it reflected accurately the demands of varying sporting environments (3) it was well accepted by elite athletes and, indeed, (4) it could be used productively as an evaluative and educational tool.
The use of neurofeedback in a portable mode that provides clarity of feedback is clearly a dimension that steps sport psychology into the next frontier of enhancing sports performance. Jon Cowan’s Peak Achievement Trainer is at the cutting edge in this dimension."
Dr. Noel Blundell
High Five Sport Psychology Consultants Pty Ltd
DR. NOEL BLUNDELLDr. Noel Blundell is an internationally renowned Sport Psychologist who has been dubbed the 'sport psychologist to the stars'. He has a high national and international media profile in television, print and radio due to his outstanding results working with elite athletes. Dr. Blundell is best known for his extensive work on the highly competitive, pressurized tennis and golf professional tour circuits.
Born in Brisbane, Queensland, and educated in Australia and the U.S.A. he won numerous citations for excellence and his versatility is underscored by the many different sports with which he has worked both on an individual and team basis. He is equally comfortable working with players of all ability levels from beginner to super status. Dr. Blundell is an experienced keynote speaker at international and national seminars and workshops and on expert panels. He is the author of the book "So You Want to be a Tennis Pro". His expertise as a sport psychologist is also supported by doctoral qualifications in Skill Acquisition and Performance.
Dr. Blundell's extensive golf clientele have won multiple majors on both the men's and women's international circuits. They include Sandy Lyle (British Open & U.S. Masters), Bill Rodgers (British Open) and Karrie Webb (multiple majors). His players currently compete on all the major international circuits of the world - the U.S., European, Japanese and Australasian tours and have had multiple successes on all these tours. Such players also include multiple winners, Robert Allenby (also 10-0 in international level playoffs), John Sendon, Rodger Davis, Craig Parry, Peter Senior, Grant Waite, and Bob Shearer in addition to Scott Laycock, Brad Hughes, Euan Walters and Tamie Durdin. Four of his players have represented the International Team in the President's Cup against the U.S.A.
Dr. Blundell has been directly involved in producing in excess of 20 successful international Australian amateur representatives. Within the golf environment he has had consultancies with the Victorian Golf Association, Victorian Institute of Sport, Australian P.G.A., Women's Golf Victoria and Queensland Golf Union.
Tennis clients include Jason Stoltenberg (former World Jnr champion, Wimbledon semi-finalist, Australian Davis Cup player, and former coach of World former #1 Lleyton Hewitt), Paul Annacone (former World #11 singles, #1 doubles and Aust. Open doubles champion, coach of former World #1 Pete Sampras), Mike de Palmer Jnr. (Former World #30 singles and top #10 doubles, and coach of Boris Becker), Nicole Pratt World top 35, Aust. Federation Cup Player), Betsy Nagelsen (Runner-Up Aust. Open). Dr. Blundell is a consultant to Tennis Australia, Tennis Victoria, Australian Institute of Sport, Victorian Institute of Sport, and the Australian Tennis Coaches Association.
Athletes from other sports include Mark Skaife (multiple National Champion & Bathurst winner) V8 Super Car, and National Champion Glenn Seton. Dr. Blundell has also worked with numerous AFL teams and individual players from Essendon, Brisbane, Geelong, Nth Melb., Carlton, Western Bulldogs, Collingwood and Richmond, as well as conducting psycho-motor testing for the National AFL Draft. In the NRL he has worked with the Manly Sea Eagles and in American Football with the University of Tennessee football team (former USA National champions).
Over the past twenty years Dr. Blundell has been directly involved in producing 14 World and Olympic champions. These include Arthur Brett (dual World Champion in Board Sailing and Yachting), Lee Brownbill, Shooting; Brett Thurley, Water Skiing; Lauren Bevaart, Triple World Karate Champion; Lauren Burns, Olympic gold medallist - Tae Kwondo and Danielle Woodward - silver medallist, Slalom Canoe. He has worked with numerous National teams, including Softball, Parachuting and Squash.
Over the past 25 years Dr. Blundell has spent 3 to 6 months per year travelling on the international circuits preparing athletes on site to meet the high pressure demands of elite sport. Be it at Augusta with U.S. Masters champion, Sandy Lyle, at Wimbledon with semi finalist Jason Stoltenberg, in pit lane with multiple V8 Super Car champion Mark Skaife, or at the Olympics with Slalom Canoe silver medallist Danielle Woodward, Dr. Blundell's unique international experience in the white hot, on site cauldron of international sport, provides him with a wealth of experience that shapes his "real world" approach to consulting.
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