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British Olympian Turns to Video Game to Hone 2012 Fighting Skills

Screen  shot of Street Fighter Video Game

One of Britain’s top athletes is using a new video game as part of his day to day training.

Tyrone Robinson, a British International Championship Gold Medallist and a European Championship Bronze Medallist in Taekwondo, is using martial arts fighting game ‘Street Fighter IV’ as a way to mentally rehearse moves, sharpen coordination, speed up reflexes and advance fight planning.

“I’m never going to be able to throw fireballs in the ring like the characters in Street Fighter IV, but I can still try some of the crazy kicks they do. It’s a good way to relax at the end of a hard day’s training and great to have a tournament with friends” says 22 year old Tyrone, who is one of the current GB Team’s elite performance academy athletes and who has high hopes for Gold in 2012.

Sports psychologists and sportsmen themselves have long accepted that mental rehearsal and training does translate to dramatically improved results on the field. Now coaches think Street Fighter IV, with its complex structure and split-second timing, is the ideal tool to assist in athletic preparation and help athletes get in the ‘zone’.

Like Taekwondo, Street Fighter IV has a strict set of moves that can be used in any given situation. Trainers believe that the complex tactical forethought required to play the game can bring real benefits to the fighting strategies of Olympic hopefuls.

Des Blackburn, the Performance Analyst for Great Britain Taekwondo, believes that Street Fighter IV is an ideal mental training supplement.

“To complement their physical training our athletes are also encouraged, in their spare time, to play this type of game, as it is known that doing so can increase their attention span, depth perception and hand‐eye co‐ordination; though this is always recommended as an addition to their physical training and never as a replacement!”

Tyrone’s use of a computer game to prepare for a real world event is part of an increasingly popular trend of using ‘brain training’ or balancing games to improve mental or physical prowess.