Today NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) sets a new standard in athletic training with the introduction of SPARQ Sensory Performance (SSP), an integrated approach that allows athletes to fine tune their sensory skills and see their sport better.
SPARQ Sensory Performance is a system of technologies, products and programs designed to assess, analyze and improve an athlete’s visual and sensory performance. It’s another step in Nike’s nearly 40-year legacy of delivering game-changing innovations to help athletes perform at their peak.
“Sensory training is at the cornerstone of how we can build better athletes,” said Paul Winsper, SPARQ Performance Director. “With SSP we’re able to integrate both sensory and physical training together. This performance philosophy has resonated with some of the top athletes, teams and clubs throughout the world.”
Nike SPARQ Sensory Stations
As the first step in improving an athlete’s performance, the SSP “assess” phase uses the Nike SPARQ Sensory Station, an interactive touch screen device, to evaluate athletes on 10 sport-relevant visual and sensory performance skills. The personalized station then translates that raw data into next steps for the athlete, which can guide a training program. The resulting SPARQ Sensory Performance profile compares an athlete's results to others at their sport, position and skill level to provide a roadmap for improvement.
Once the assessment and analysis are complete, Nike SSP provides two key tools designed to help an athlete improve: the Nike SPARQ Sensory Training Station and Nike SPARQ Vapor Strobe Eyewear. Athletes at any skill level can integrate both into their training programs to hone their sensory skills.
Nike SPARQ Vapor Strobe Eyewear
Following visual testing to evaluate different aspects of the athlete’s visual skills, a crucial tool to improve key areas is The Nike SPARQ Vapor Strobe Eyewear. By blocking or disrupting vision using a strobe or flicker effect that can be varied in speed, an athlete can develop quicker reaction times and motor skills. The strobe effect improves reaction time by switching between clear and blocked vision, which trains the brain to anticipate what‘s coming when the eyes are blocked. Features include an adjustable head strap for a secure fit and liquid-crystal lens technology with variable speeds for different levels of training.
“After years of tireless testing, we’ve discovered an innovative way to help increase athletic performance,” said Dr. Alan Reichow, Global Research Director of Nike SPARQ Sensory Performance and Vision. “The SSP ecosystem of testing and products allows our team to serve the athlete with a clear and actionable plan that helps them see sport better.”
The system is already proving effective. Two recent studies* showed that training with the Nike SPARQ Vapor Strobes improved:
1) The ability to pick up subtle motion cues
2) Visual information processing
3) Timing of motion
Nike SPARQ Sensory Training Stations use software-based training modules to improve multiple sensory performance skills. The stations can be used regularly as an integrated part of training programs for athletes of all levels. Top collegiate and professional programs have purchased the Nike strobe eyewear and stations, with a full global rollout now in action.
The Nike SPARQ Vapor Strobes are $300 USD and are available Internationally at NikeStore.com. Both the Nike SPARQ Sensory Station and Nike SPARQ Sensory Training Station are available through the Nike SPARQ Sensory Training Help Desk (1-855-870-6778 or NSSTsupport@nike.com). For additional content including photos and video visit www.nikeinc.com.
* Duke University Study: Appelbaum LG, Schroeder JE, Cain MS and Mitroff SR (2011) Improved visual cognition through stroboscopic training. Front. Psychology 2:276. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00276
* Southern Utah University Study: Smith, T.Q. (2011) Sensory Training: Nike Strobe (Master’s thesis). Southern Utah University, Cedar City, UT.