Monday, October 18, 2021

By: Sport Industry Group

UK company, OKKULO, has created an athlete training system, which is scientifically proven to enhance athletic performance by speeding up perception and reaction times.

The system, which has been trialled by several top-flight football clubs as well as athletes from cricket, baseball, tennis, and MMA, works by helping the brain to create new direct pathways between the colour visual system and the neuromuscular system. In turn, this speeds up reaction times, delivering the performance gains.      

Backed by 20 years of scientific research, OKKULO claims the technology is the first of its kind in the world and is backed by several leading sports vision experts and sport scientists.

Once inside the OKKULO pod an athlete is exposed to a series of different and changing light levels, in which the intensity and spectrum of the illumination is carefully controlled. An athlete faced with a fast-moving object, say a baseball or football, under these lighting conditions perceives the object as being delayed by about an additional 25% as a result of which they have less time to respond and must speed up their response.

After training under these conditions, the system trains the brain to make those new internal pathways. The result is an athlete that sees, thinks, and responds faster than before.

Research carried out in partnership with academics at Durham University has shown that athletes who have spent just one hour training with the system, have experienced up to a 20% improvement in their perception and reaction times.

Speaking about the system, Founder of OKKULO Mel O'Connor commented: “At the very top level of professional sport, increasingly we are seeing athletes who have peaked physically, utilise technology to find extra improvements to stay one step ahead of their opponents.” 

We have spent the last 20 years developing OKKULO and by understanding the science around what is happening behind the eyes and how actions are processed, we have created a system which makes athletes see things quicker. The technology can now be adapted to any sport – whether it involves kicking or catching a ball, swinging a bat, or throwing and defending a punch.”

OKKULO has been engineered and developed in collaboration with Professor Lindsay Ted Sharpe and vision expert Professor Andrew Stockman at Durham University – both specialists in the field of rod and cone mediated visual adaptation – the two foundations that underpin the scientific premise of the OKKULO system. 

OKKULO have carried out trials with Premier League and Football League clubs including Salford City FC. Former Salford City Goalkeeper, Václav Hladký, who signed for Ipswich Town in June 2021, is one example of a professional athlete who has demonstrably benefitted from training with the OKKULO system. 

Last season for Salford City, Hladky’s goals conceded in the league per 90 mins dropped dramatically to 0.71 from 1.29, after training with OKKULO. His save percentage also increased to 80% from 73% and his clean sheet percentage increased by 12% from 38% to 50%, giving him a clean sheet every other game. Hladky won the Man of the Match in a penalty shootout win over Portsmouth in the 2021 EFL Trophy Final, was named in League Two’s Team of the Season and registered 22 clean sheets in 2020/21 campaign, which he largely credits to working with OKKULO.

OKKULO currently have a facility based in Newcastle, which is used predominantly by professional athletes and coaches who want to train at their own pace with a regime that’s specific to them.