Sportsmen flash on the strobe glasses

To progress, athletes are trying more and more to build their brain in addition to their body. In this perspective, the strobe glasses, already used by Michael Jordan twenty years ago, are a tool in full renewal.

They swing in rhythm, cradled by intense variations of light. Only missing music. However, we are not at a concert of the Grateful Dead, the flagship group of the psychedelic movement born in the 1960s with the “acid tests”, these LSD experiments that turned into artistic happenings.

These are top athletes who use strobe glasses. Pairs whose lenses are lined with liquid crystals that go from transparency to opacity in a fraction of a second, and vice versa. Their users can set the blinking effect from very fast to very slow.

More and more are, it seems, athletes who use them in training. In June, the Swiss footballer Yann Sommer explained that he used it to “put the brain to work” and “accelerate the speed of reaction.” “I look a lot at what we do in other sports and I try to find new things,” he added.

More and more are, it seems, athletes who use them in training. In June, the Swiss footballer Yann Sommer explained that he used it to “put the brain to work” and “accelerate the speed of reaction.” “I look a lot at what we do in other sports and I try to find new things,” he added.

“We wanted something to see the actions as slow motion”

The guardian of Nati and Mönchengladbach has undoubtedly found inspiration in the United States. Two months earlier, it was MLB baseball player Joe Mauer who gave these glasses a piece of his return to the fore. Last month, it was ESPN’s turn to discuss their role in the progression of basketball players like Stephen Curry (NBA’s best player) or Kawhi Leonard (best defender). “It helps to reduce the loss of time in the gesture. We wanted something to see the stock as slow motion, “said Brandon Payne, Curry’s personal trainer.

The first to see this positive effect of the strobe was Michael Jordan, a bit by chance. In the 1990s, his personal coach, Tim Grover, wanted to reproduce in training the light of the flashes used in the match by the photographers so that the best player in history gets used to it. He therefore placed flashing effect lamps around the floor. What he did not anticipate was that Jordan would get used to this system to the point of noting that it allowed him to improve his bearings.

Became addicted to this effect, he demanded to be able to use it even on the move. At the same time, Nike, which had a sound and vision research unit in sports, was developing a prototype of stroboscopic glasses. Grover has recovered copies, quickly adopted by its customers. Yet, it was not until 2011 before seeing them market the name of SPARQ Vapor Strobe.

Manchester City footballers testing strobe glasses in 2018

Driven by the marketing power of the American equipment manufacturer, these glasses could have become a must have very quickly. But it is just as quickly that Nike stopped their production, in 2012, following a news item, the commercial director of SPARQ subsidiary who was sentenced to twenty years in prison for trying to kill women and children.

Hence the low publicity around these glasses that have reached a price in the used market ($ 800, 300 new), until other brands start to sell. In the meantime, in 2013, a study came out extolling their usefulness. If it is not free of bias, especially in the links of several researchers with Nike, it is promising. A group of eleven hockey players from Carolina Hurricanes (NHL) were split into two, six training with strobe glasses, five without. The researchers eventually noticed that the first group had improved the accuracy of their actions by almost 20%, when the second group had stagnated.

The stroboscopic effect “has a neuromuscular efficacy”, decrypts Brandon Payne. To summarize, if a person sends you a tennis ball but a regular shutter of the field of vision prevents to see part of its displacement, the brain will be compelled to calculate the trajectory of the ball, and not to be satisfied with observe his movement, in order to adapt the gesture of reception. In short, it muscle the meninges.

 

 

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