The Conscious Brain: The Secret to Elite Athletic Performance

The conscious brain: Capacity, Co-activation, and Character

Ever wondered what sets elite athletes apart? While physical prowess plays a part, the role of our conscious brain might surprise you. A riveting study spearheaded by researchers Tina van Duijn, Tim Buszard, Merel C.J. Hoskens, and Rich S.W. Masters, postulates that stellar motor skills arise not just from physical fitness but also from the intricacies of our conscious brain’s functionality.

Read more: The Conscious Brain: The Secret to Elite Athletic Performance

Unraveling the 3C’s of Motor Skills

Delving deep into the conscious brain, the team unveiled three pivotal aspects directly influencing motor performance: Capacity, Co-activation, and Character. Together, these ‘3C’s’ could potentially be the foundation of elite-level motor abilities.

Processing Information at Lightning Speed

Capacity refers to the volume of information our conscious brain can process at any given moment. Athletes with heightened capacity can perceive intricate details of their surroundings and respond to changes swifter and more efficiently.

Co-activation: Teamwork within the Brain

Co-activation encompasses how various brain parts collaborate. Stellar motor performance isn’t just about one brain area’s activity. Instead, it’s about the synchronized activity of several regions. The more harmonious these areas, the superior the performance.

Character: The Essence of Conscious Processes

Character delves into the nature of conscious processes that underpin motor performance. It’s about the quality of conscious thoughts and strategies athletes employ during task execution.

Transforming Research into Practice: Tips for Boosting Motor Skills

The study reveals athletes showcasing elevated levels of the 3C’s perform exceptionally during the early stages of motor learning. Enhancing these facets could expedite motor performance and refine the learning process. Here’s how you can incorporate this into your training:

  • Practice Mindfulness: Sharpen your conscious brain’s capacity by anchoring your attention to the present, be it through meditation or focused breathing during exercises.
  • Emphasize Cohesion: Opt for exercises stimulating multiple body parts and brain regions simultaneously. Complex routines demanding coordination and balance can be beneficial.
  • Foster Positive Thought Patterns: Monitor your mental strategies, ensuring they augment performance. Sidestep negative self-talk and consistently practice positive affirmations.

Bear in mind, these insights are merely a fraction of the bigger picture. Everyone’s unique, with numerous factors impacting motor performance. Therefore, always seek expert guidance and tailor your training to resonate with your specific needs and objectives. Continue training, learning, and traversing the path of growth. The conscious brain is a potent tool, and by harnessing its might, we can propel ourselves to unparalleled motor performance peaks.


  • van Duijn, T., Buszard, T., Hoskens, M.C.J., & Masters, R.S.W. (2022). Discerning measures of conscious brain processes associated with superior early motor performance: Capacity, coactivation, and character. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology.
  • Photo by Alliance Football Club on Unsplash
Scroll to Top