Nike has made its first move into the world of mental training with the launch of Pro Genius, a series of tools and techniques designed to help young soccer players develop the mental side of their game.
Pro Genius was developed by AKQA London to help athletes "train like a football genius," and is available in 20 languages as part of the Nike Football app. The launch coincides with two big international soccer tournaments: the Copa America and the European Championships.
AKQA's film features players interacting with the app as they prepare for a major game. The voiceover says, "What separates the good from the truly great? How do they hold their nerve when a whole nation is holding its breath? The world's best train their brain like a muscle. They are geniuses. Now you can train your brain too."
Footballers featured in the film include Cristiano Ronaldo, star of "The Switch," which follows what happens when the player swaps brains with a young fan. Both initiatives are part of Nike Football's #sparkbrilliance campaign.
Ronaldo, who has 62 million followers on Instagram and 43 million on Twitter, is one of 30 footballers promoting Pro Genius for Nike. Each player has made an individual films of himself using the app, which will go up on on social media at relevant moments during the current European and American tournaments.
Brain training apps were in the spotlight recently when Lumos Labs were fined $50 million by the Federal Trade Commission for overstating its apps' impact on athletic performance, grades and memory.
An AKQA spokesperson said, "We were aware of the lawsuit and thought very carefully about the claims we made. Everything from athlete social requests to in-game copy have been thoroughly reviewed."
Pro Genius contains a range of mental training games and tools, focusing on skills such as decision-making, strategy, confidence, and visualization.
To develop these tools, AKQA spent a year working with Nike athletes and management from a range of different sports -- including the NFL, the NBA, and MLB -- which are more advanced than soccer in the field of brain training. Nike also worked with Axon Sports, which has its own range of mental training products.
Although there are no immediate plans to expand mental training to other sports, Nike intends Pro Genius to be a long-term tool for athletes and will constantly update it with new skill levels and updates. The aim is to destigmatize and democratize mental training, making it available to a broader audience outside elite athletes.