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  • Lauren Allen

How Gavin Sheets Keeps His Competitive Edge with Neuropeak Pro



Peter

To kick things off, can you just share a brief overview of your journey through pro baseball so far?


Gavin

For sure. I played my college baseball at Wake Forest University and was drafted in the second round of the 2017 MLB draft. I then started in single A with the Winston-Salem Dash my first year. Then jumped up to AA in Birmingham last season.


Peter

Can you talk about being successful? Being ready to perform? From your perspective, what does it take to be successful at the highest level?

Gavin

I think the biggest thing is that you can't be complacent. You always find a way to get better either athletically, mentally, skill-wise, I just feel like the guys you see move the fastest are people that just are never complacent. And they're always changing something up – always trying to get better, always looking for different ways to have an edge on the competition.


I think that's the biggest thing about baseball is finding ways to always improve, whether it's just a little bit every day. And that's something I've seen; I was able to have my first big league camp this year and be with those guys and every one of them found a different way to get better every day, whether it's just their regimen or their diet. And I think that's the biggest thing for me is just finding different ways to improve my game every day.


Peter

That's something that people talk about all the time in sports. It's like, how do you get that 1% better every single day? And, you know, those margins of improvement over time, make the biggest difference. I mean, that's something that we talk about with our athletes all the time. Neuropeak Pro isn't something that you’re going to make these huge leaps and bounds from day one, but over time, you start to see change.


Let’s take a baseball perspective. I really believe that if you can improve your focus by, let's call it an arbitrary number like 10%, more focus means you're going to get on base a few more times every week, you're going get a few more RBIs, and those little things start to add up. So then by the end of the year, if I improved my focus by just 10%, I started to hit two or three more RBIs or get on base two or three times per week, what does that look like at the end of the season? What do those incremental differences add up to? And, you know, we see it, we see it in other sports too, but I think in baseball especially it translates really, really well. So, I'm excited to break into the sport a little more just because you talk about getting better every day and I think that's something that we can provide with our training.


So, next question, how long have you been training with Neuropeak Pro? What about the evaluation made you want to sign up? Which part about that resonated most with you before you signed on? And what were some of your goals at the beginning of the program?


Gavin

I think that in the beginning, going back to what I was saying, I was just trying to find something that would get that extra 1% – that something that'll give me an edge in a sport that is probably 90% mental. I felt like this was the perfect fit. So in the beginning, we did the breathing a lot. (We did the) evaluation to see where I lacked weight, what my mind didn't do right that I could improve on, and to get that breathing stuff going in the beginning – and getting to see instant feedback for me was huge.


I think I started in June of last year. And I don't know what the impact was immediately, but as soon as I started doing it, my stats last year from June onwards...I don't know what the correlation is, but the stats were a pretty incredible difference. But you know, just to see instant feedback in terms of being able to get my body to calm down and focus in. In baseball, you don't really want to get high strung or be bouncing off the walls. And to kind of use the big situations and use the breathing that I learned and settle my body down. I think that there was definitely an immediate impact for me.

Peter

Yeah, that's awesome. That's so cool to hear.

So to add on to the breathing, the first part of your program is really focused on the breathing work. Can you talk a little bit about that and how you think it worked for you? And then, what does a typical breathing session look like? What kind of work and practice have you had to put in for that?


Gavin

So a typical session was, we would hook up, and it started as just taking deep breaths in and out for three first, that was first and foremost. It's kind of an underrated thing because you think it's gonna be really easy and then the more you do it, you start to get tired and realize that the breaths that you really should be taking are a lot deeper than what you normally do. And then from then on, we got it to link up to my heart rate. So you can really just kind of settle your whole body down you can really get intact with your body.


I think that's where for baseball, it really kicked in the most is being able to have complete control of my body to deal with it – to relax it if I needed to, to be able to get it going if I needed to, and all just using something as simple as breathing. I remember a big situation at bat. You kind of get fast-paced, your breath gets quick, but I was able to use the techniques we used to settle everything down and get that adrenaline down so I could really focus on what I wanted to do. I think that was the biggest thing for me is those big, at-bat situations, I was able to go into that breathing rate walking up to the plate to kind of get me in a relaxed mode, which is what you need to have to perform.

Peter

Yeah, that's awesome. That's what we aim to do. I'm glad that you found a way to translate it to the field. I think that's the most important thing and where some people get that disconnect. They're like this is really cool but how does it translate to on the field? So just hearing how you used it is awesome.


Gavin

Yeah, I think for me, it's just the instant feedback or being able to settle down in the box or take a step out say, Hey, this is why my vision is blurry right now. It's because my adrenaline's going too much. I need to slow it down. Take some deep breaths, and then get it back under control.


Peter

That's so cool. I mean, isn't it amazing though when you get to that point? You've done so much work and you start to feel that and then to build upon it.


So, once you got the breathing done and locked in and you had that going on, you jumped over to the neurofeedback brain training. You completed the program, so why don't you talk about what a typical brain training session looks like? What are some things that you've noticed after completing the program to some of the changes that you felt from doing the brain training?


Gavin

Yeah, I think the biggest thing that stood out in the beginning was just how difficult it was. And the strides you make over time in the sessions. But from when I started to just not being able to keep complete focus for 10 seconds or 15 seconds at the beginning...it really stood out to me and how much I needed it. I think that was the biggest thing and that's what made me buy into it the most at the beginning. But then training my mind to stay focused for one minute and then getting it to two minutes and getting to five minutes and getting it to the whole session of 21 minutes. I thought that was really cool and unfortunately, I haven't been able to use it on the field yet.


But just in terms of being able to stay focused in training and hitting, you know, even just watching a movie or watching TV just a way that my mind's able to lock in for the whole time when normally I would phase out. I think that especially in a sport like baseball, where it's kind of slower paced, you need to have that focus for the entire game because it could be the last at-bat or the biggest at-bat of the game. So that's what interests me and where I've seen it. I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out not only in baseball but just in my daily life.



Peter

That's so great. What's a typical session like for you? I think it'd be helpful to describe what a coaching session looks like and then one when you train on your own.



Gavin

Yes. When it's all my own, it's three rounds of seven minutes each. So I'll put on a video and I'll hook it up and whenever I lose focus the video goes dark on me. So it can be really frustrating in the beginning when you're only going 10 seconds. But when you get it going, and you can keep the vision the whole time and keep the focus whole time and it stays, over time, it goes from a minute to two minutes to three minutes. And then, hopefully, by the end of it, you keep on for seven minutes. It's really rewarding. And then over time you can go from being able to do one session really well then your brain gets tired in the second session, but when you can get it for all three rounds of each session, that's when you can really see the difference.

And then with my coach, Brian, it's great because I take all those sessions that I do for the week and bring it back to him and say here's what I'm doing well and where I’m struggling. It's more of a conversation and he coaches me through it, especially in the beginning. We would do the trial right in front where he could watch and kind of say what you see so yeah, it's just a really good combination of the two.


Peter

Yeah, and how would you compare your brain coach to your weight training coach or your swing coach or something like that? Do you see them as being at all similar?



Gavin

I mean, yeah, you take what you do – if you have a good hitting session, you say, this is what I'm feeling. If you have a bad hitting session you say, this is what I'm feeling. You get feedback and it's the same thing for brain training. You say, well, this is what I'm feeling and he says, Okay, well, maybe next time try this or do this for a little bit longer or spread it out more.


It was really cool for us as we tried to toy with doing it at five o'clock at night like as if I was playing a seven o'clock game and seeing if after doing some training how my brain will work. We'd see if I was more energetic or more locked in. Just to see what a regular season pattern like this would be like and see how your body reacts to it. I thought that was pretty cool as well.



Peter

That's super cool. I didn’t know that you guys were doing that. And it makes sense. I mean, especially something I talked about so often with professional athletes is that our bodies are not meant to be performing at seven o'clock at night. That's when you're supposed to winding down for the day. But for you guys, that's when you've got to ramp up and get going. So I didn't know that Brian was doing that with you. That's really awesome.



Gavin

And it's really cool how you can kind of tailor it to what I was doing in baseball. So yeah, that's one of the perks of having a coach because that's what they are there for, they’re there to help.



Peter

Was there a time where you really started to notice and feel some changes? Or has it been more gradual and reflective where you were like, Oh, I'm really starting to focus more? Or oh, I'm really starting to dial it in in the batter's boxes. Do remember there being a time when you first started to see some changes?



Gavin

I definitely, I think with the breathing, I saw an immediate impact. It still stands out to me. I remember, two nights before I was having my first meeting with a guy at Neuropeak. It wasn't Brian at the time, but it was a breathing meeting. And we're just talking about techniques and I had just done the evaluation and he said, You know, I don't know where you want to go from this, but here are some breathing techniques and some practices to do to get your mind and body linked up.


And I remember doing that I came up with the bases loaded the next game and it was a high-pressure situation. So, my breathing was going fast, my vision was getting that tunnel vision he was talking about when adrenaline hits, and I remember stepping out of the box and taking those deep breaths and getting it back under control. And I ended up hitting a Grand Slam. It still stands out to me because it was just that moment where there had to be some kind of correlation. Obviously, the breathing didn't hit the Grand Slam for me, but it got me right to a point where I could perform. Which was really cool. And that really made me buy in.


And then with the focus stuff, it's been a little slower, but you can just tell from your sessions...each session gets longer and longer and longer in terms of how long I can hold my focus for. Not being able to play baseball is difficult to show how it correlates on the field, but you see it over time for each session. Going from (focusing) 80% of the whole time and then the next time it's 90%. When the first couple of times was like 45% of the time I could keep the focus.



Peter

Yeah, that's a pretty powerful story. To be like, Yep, step out of the box and just hit a Grand Slam.



Gavin

I think I've told you that story too, but it's just one of those things that just stands out.



Peter

Yeah. And that's just such a perfect example of what we aim to do with our athletes. It's like, that's as pressure-packed as it gets – everything on the line and you have all of the physical tools, the physical capabilities to do that, but when the brain and the body aren't in line and running too fast, you're not going to perform at your best level. So, the fact that you're able to utilize those tools in a game and perform at your best just goes to show this stuff...it works.


Cool, well, that's all I really had for you. Do you think there's anything else that would be helpful for anybody in the agency to know when considering this? Or just in general, is there anything else you'd want people to know about us?


Gavin

I would just say I think the biggest thing for me is to keep an open mind. Because I feel like, as athletes, we have a lot of stuff thrown at us by a lot of companies. And we're quick to shut them off. I think the biggest thing for me is to keep an open mind toward it and just buy into it for the evaluation and for the beginning part and just see if it can affect you. I think that if you keep an open mind and allow it to do what it does, I think everybody will see benefits from it. Yeah, but that's only if you buy in and if you don't buy in, you're not gonna get anything from it. That would be my biggest advice.


Peter

Awesome. Cool, man. I appreciate it.


Gavin

My pleasure. Anytime.

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