Tennis star Caroline Wozniacki Using New HeadTrainer “Mental Training” App to Improve Performance


Richard Sherman, All-Pro Cornerback of the Seattle Seahawks, sparked social debate by boldly stating football requires the most mental preparation. Other athletes (e.g., Jose Bautista, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Caroline Wozniacki, etc.), media and sports commentators weighed in with their opinions. In the end, they all are right.

Whether trying to achieve elite athletic status or just improve their chances to make the junior varsity basketball team, athletes are constantly looking for an advantage. Today, we realize that cognition may be just the game changer needed, and now we match that realization with fun and exciting content for kids and adults alike to engage and impact their abilities in a mobile app: Enter HeadTrainer.

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HeadTrainer is an iOS and Android mobile app designed specifically to enhance athletic performance through improving the mental functions of athletes. The mental workouts take place in sports-themed, digital environments and are designed to help assess and improve cognitive skills in five key areas: Memory, Processing Speed, Focus/Concentration, Visual-Spatial Awareness and Decision-Making.

“Our mission is to deliver an app for athletes of all skill levels and all ages to engage and improve their cognitive abilities,” CEO Rick Sabath said. “We believe that improved cognition will lead to better performance on the field, in the classroom and on the job,” added Sabath.

Endorsed by world-class athletes including Alex Morgan, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Richard Sherman, Jose Bautista, Rickie Fowler, Caroline Wozniacki and Alana Blanchard, HeadTrainer features 15 games (workouts) with endless levels for each. HeadTrainer is now available for play on IOS(Apple) and Android devices through the Apple App Store and Google Play. The basic app is free and additional functionality and options can be purchased for $4.99 per month.

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What separates HeadTrainer from other “brain-training” apps is not only the fun of its sports-themed user experience, but its robust audio and video components – incorporating interactive messages and positive reinforcement from some of the top athletes in sports along with distractive sounds to help enhance the focus and concentration component of training. These distractive sounds help to replicate the natural environment that athletes experience in real life.

In addition to the workouts, HeadTrainer allows users to invite friends and teammates to compete through social media, build up “experience points” and win virtual trophies and bragging rights.

Cognition is more than just learning and memory; it’s the ability to process new information, relate it to the body of knowledge and experience people have, and apply it to new challenges. It’s the ability to communicate, reason, and manipulate information, and it involves speed, flexibility, and concentration, among other abilities.

Cognitive skills training, the engagement and practice of these abilities, is designed to improve and enrich skills. In addition to directly impacting the skills, gains may translate into functional skill as cognition is an integral part of execution. So, improving cognition may convey directly to sports by increasing a player’s speed and ability to remember plays, patterns, tendencies and routes.


An experienced management team went about developing the science for the app with the Duke Sports Science Institute. Duke’s Dr. Claude T. Moorman, III and Dr. Deborah Attix advised HeadTrainer staff and a group of app developers to fulfill the vision of HeadTrainer. Dr. Brian Monteleone, a Charlotte-based sports psychologist, was also part of the initial advisory team, which included several other scientists with a special focus on the benefits of neuro-gaming and brain-training in athletics.

“What HeadTrainer does that is unique is deliver a training experience that is packaged in a fun, challenging, rewarding and personal experience,” Dr. Attix said. “The elite athlete has access to some of the best training facilities in the world; we think the HeadTrainer app gives athletes of all ages and skills levels access to a sophisticated, relevant, and fun manner of engaging and enriching their cognitive experience. This app is for anyone who wants to invest a few minutes towards developing a real mental advantage to enhance their skills.”


“One of the questions I get from parents all the time is how they can get their kids off their mobile devices,” said U.S. Women’s Soccer National Team member Alex Morgan. “One of the things that excited me most about working with HeadTrainer is that it offers a way to train an often neglected part of an athlete’s development, the mental part of the game. I can tell a parent that there is something their kids can do on their mobile devices that is productive and that can help them on and off the field.”

“What I love about HeadTrainer is how it helps young athletes learn the important connection between training your brain and being better on the field or court,” Sherman said. “If I can process information faster and make decisions sooner, I can react quicker and that can be the difference between a first down for my opponent or a pick six for my team. The smart player wins.”

“The experience and the app’s development are constant, and the experience grows as you grow,” said Jay Bilas, ESPN college basketball analyst and early believer in HeadTrainer. “As a parent and a former athlete, I see the benefits for my kids, and I see the benefits for me in my current career. I just wish HeadTrainer had been around when I was playing because it makes me wonder if I really did reach my full potential as a player.”

About HeadTrainer

Designed and developed in careful coordination with a team of professionals from the fields of science and medicine, the HeadTrainer App is a series of ever-changing, mental workouts that take place in fun, challenging, sports-themed digital environments. The workouts are designed to help athletes, of all ages and skills, assess and improve their cognitive skills. World-class athletes from a variety of sports are part of Team HeadTrainer. The company is based in Charlotte, N.C. and is privately held.

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