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Drumming for Football



Drum Beats help Football Teams with Timing and Rhythm, adjust to Crowd Noise in Greater Los Angeles area 

Football players are exposed to excessive decibel levels of crowd noise in NFL and college stadiums, and this disrupts play timing, rhythm, and on field communications. We have developed methods from our brain science research in sound patterns, drum rhythms, and sensory processing, to help teams overcome these cognitive, play, and player disruptions.

Sound affects our brains in positive and negative ways depending on the type, loudness, and pattern of sound. Sound offers favorable health benefits as described in the earlier work with the "Mozart Effect." Yet, it has harmful effects as is seen in methods of prisoner interrogation. In football, sound is also used in harmful ways to disrupt on-field communications, and the cognitive focus of visiting teams and players.

The U.S. military for many years has used chants, drums, and recorded sounds during training to help syncopate on-field operations and communications. Football play is similar in that on-field timing, syncopation, and communication is critical for proper execution of play. The physiology of play & movement can be described in terms of "proprioception," or the memory of muscle movement. There are also cognitive factors to consider for play execution. And high decibel crowd noise during NFL games today is interfering with on-field communications and cognitive reasoning before and during the plays. We describe a method of how drum & percussion instruments can be utilized as non-audible timing & on-field communications tools in the absence of verbal communication, and how rhythmic progressions can be used to help overcome the cognitive & sensory challenges posed by crowd noise.



Stadium Noise and Sound Sensory Processing

    Fans at the Seattle Seahawks & Kansas City Chiefs stadiums are using high decibel crowd noise to disrupt the play of visiting teams, where the stadiums are optimally designed to direct crowd noise toward the playing field. Teams like the New Orleans Saints & San Francisco 49ers found these noise levels to be so loud, as to interfere with on-field verbal communications, snap count, syncopation of play, and cognitive focus. But this should come as no surprise. Sound exposure is brain science! Military officials have used sound exposure as a "torture" method to break the will and concentration of prisoners. And all around the world today, individuals neurological disorders, post concussion disorders, hydrocephalus, Parkinson's Disease, PTSD, and others suffering from sensory processing disorder are uniquely susceptible to the ill-effects of sound and high decibel, repetitive, white noise sound.

    Our earlier research with sound and sensory processing disorders involved a Metronome sensory processing study we published on our web site in 2002. What we discovered was that specific patterns of sound were difficult to process, and triggered neurologic sequela, but that melodic patterns and drum beats could conversely be used to improve an individuals tolerance to sound. The U.S. military has unofficially been training its special forces by subjecting them to high levels of disorganized and repetitive sound, and instructed how to find a syncopating pattern within the mix of the noise. They no doubt use electronic & recorded audio tracks. But this could also be done with drum beats and musical instruments. The brain science behind this compensatory mechanism is, if you can connect with a pattern or rhythm in the sound, you'll better withstand its ill-effects, drop in cognitive function, mental focus, and breakage of your will and psyche. The same mechanism is applicable in pain management, where the role of the psyche is critical. For these reasons, the challenges brought by both sports, and illness, are very much related, and is why many athletes regularly reach out to sick children and their families.

    Stephen's earlier metronome study explored the sensory processing relationship to sound patterns, sound intolerance, and decline in cognition and mental focus following sound exposure. A 2nd discovery was sound, hand, feet & finger movements could be used to help physical coordination & balance. And a 3rd discovery was in how hand & finger movements can be used to aid cognition and mental focus during periods of diminished cognitive reasoning (such as from noise exposure). In our work, we found drum beats, rhythmic patterns, and hand percussion to be extraordinarily beneficial in improving brain function. And the benefits come through playing and "engaging" the music and rhythm, not from just listening.

    There is considerable supporting research for how our brains & bodies are well adapted for rhythmic patterning as seen in all movement, athletic skill, verbal & non-verbal communications, and cognitive reasoning (analytical & relational reasoning). And with the benefits of exposure to melodic music established by the Mozart Effect, rhythmic drumming and playing percussion instruments (drum circles) can help offset the ill-effects of loud repetitive sound and white noise such as from crowd noise at NFL stadiums. From our research and experience with sensory processing, we created the slogan, "ENGAGE THE RHYTHMS OF YOUR BRAIN." What is engage the rhythms of your brain?

     Your brain processes sensory information from all five (5) of your senses simultaneously during your day and routines. At times of peak activity, your brain and brain waves are at their fastest, or in a "beta brain wave" state. But, you can only sustain this high (Beta wave) rate of processing and brain function for a period of a few hours. In our drum circle facilitation workshops, we use drumming to alter brain waves to various states, in what is termed, "brain wave entrainment." Football and other team sports already do this through a variety of methods. Our brains can process only a set amount of sensory information at one time, and for a set interval. When your limit is reached, your brain begins to shut down. The threshold is lower in persons with neurological disorders, post concussion syndrome, and those younger and older. Depending on the amount and type of sensory stimulation, the threshold can occur rapidly in a matter of a few seconds to several minutes. There are things you can undertake to improve your threshold or tolerance to sound and sensory information. The threshold does vary a bit from person to person, time of day, and other factors. But largely, it is affected by nutrition, hydration, rest, mental & physical preparation, and how you deal with stress and adversity.

    Some methods for spot engaging/boost your brain during challenging times includes: finding an activity, emotion, or reasoning to excite you enough to keep you focused. Engaging your body thru a rhythmic progression or pattern. Maintaining a positive group connection with those around you. Maintaining healthy eye contact. Physical & verbal engagement among players. And moderation of the team's group brain wave patterns for stamina and peak cognitive performance. For the above reasons, it is helpful that the consultant or facilitator be familiar with mindfulness and shamanism practices, as this insightfulness adds to the drumming for football outcomes.

    A great example of an effective use of hand & finger cognition in sports was by baseball's Ricky Williams, in his method of stealing bases. For Henderson, these finger movements were more than just timing. They boosted his cognitive reasoning as watched the opposing defense to know "when" it was best to steal. Animals do this too with their bodies, and their methods aid cognition, reasoning, and communication with the pack.

    The U.S. military provides sound sensory processing training for its soldiers in high risk combat zones. These methods can also help NFL football teams overcome the effects of crowd noise and high decibel levels at stadiums like Seattle, Kansas City, Denver, and New Orleans. The results are in the methodology and training, and how the consultant or facilitator connects with players and the organization. Football plays involve a wide variety of on-field movement patterns, each involving a unique rhythm & tempo, and requiring a tight level of synchronization to be successful. In situations like noise stadiums where players cannot hear the snap count, verbal commands, and communications, the plays can be practiced/played with their matching audible counterparts thru drum beats. And it is the insightful drum facilitator who assigns these movements their unique sound. Once players learn the sound, they can reproduce the synchronization during a game without much need for audible communications. This practice can further aid cognition thru staying mentally "engaged."

    Non-verbal communications, body rhythm codes, and team building are critical in on-field communications and play execution in football. Players (and coaching staff) must not only read non-verbal cues from teammates, coaches, and opponents, but they must execute every play with flawless 11-man syncopation. This syncopation of movement, time, and space against the unknown of same of an opponent over a 10 second play, applying as much attentiveness, direction, and interpretation as possible, is known as play execution. Is it possible to train to specific audible rhythms? The answer is "yes."

    A football play involves the collective movement of body rhythms of 22 players, 11 on each side moving in an opposing direction with only one ball.  If one wants to successfully move the ball and persons protecting it, one must appropriately interpret the body language or rhythm code of each opponent, with some support from sideline coaches. The movements and rhythmic codes are recorded on various play and visual formats, analyzed, and implemented on the field. As every person walks and runs with a unique body language or rhythm code, coaching staff must evaluate this and assemble teams of 11 men to carry out a syncopated act or play. In game situations, rhythmic codes are involved in: 1) communications between teammates and coaches, 2) reads of intent and reacting to the movement of opposing players (and their sideline), 3) responding and adapting a team rhythm to external rhythms such as fans and weather conditions, and 4) real time play execution and syncopation (time, athletic advantage, and space). And if there weren't already enough to do, teams must deal with player injuries, substitutions, player psyches, and different cognitive and concentration levels.

    At Dolle Communications, we use drumming and movement in a variety of ways to overcome improve movement, brain function, alter one's belief system, and help overcome adversity. Drum & percussion instruments can provide the perfect solution for the timing & sensory processing challenges, on field communications, and noise challenges of today's NFL stadiums. We believe the teams most needing to address these challenges are the San Francisco 49ers, the New Orleans Saints, the Green Bay Packers, and Denver Broncos. No doubt the toughest place to play is the Seattle Seahawks Stadium.



Drumming for Football Clinics for Snap Count, Timing & Syncopation of Offense

Drum and drum circle workshop training has enumerable team building applications in college and NFL football. They include: assembling the best matched players on a squad, skills training, play preparation and syncopation, team communications, unity, proper psyche, and pregame preparation to mention a few. A drum circle workshop then offers four specific benefits: improving non-verbal communication, strengthen player intellect and sense of time and space (athleticism), strengthen player and coach attentiveness around them, and help build team unity and spirit. Football programs employ a variety of cadence training and off-field methods to achieve team syncopation. Undoubtedly, what sets each apart are their tools, preparation, and discipline.

Let's introduce a drum circle of tan tans and large and mid-size djembes to the offense of a football program. The drum circle facilitator initially will play a particular rhythm that audibly mirrors the rhythmic code or movement of each player. You want each player to "hear" the rhythms of each other.  As the quarterback (QB) sets the timing of the offensive plays, he must initiate and hold the anchor or core rhythm of the offensive drum circle, preferably with a mid to large djembe. He must also be attentive to every player's rhythm in the circle, and make the call to adapt when needed. The center (C) plays the largest bass or tan tan, and plays the root bass beat of the rhythm. The guards (G) play bass beats either on tan tan or large djembes. The tackles (T) are on large djembes and play a combination of fill, and bass fill. The tight ends (TE) are on mid-size djembes and play fill off each other, the QB, and the group. The fullback is on a larger djembe and plays a variety of fill, bass, and lead rhythms off of the QB, RBs, and offensive line, consistent with his role as lead blocker, running back, or receiver. The running backs (RB) play lead and bass fill rhythms on mid-size djembes, consistent with blocking, running, or receiving roles. This method teaches the players to be attentive to each other, to adapt to the rhythm code opportunities of the circle (and its  time and space), to be supportive of the entire team movement and syncopation, and lead when opportunity presents. This helps players become more aware of a teammate's body rhythm through audible mirroring, and learning to better trust reads, time, and space judgment as they assume lead roles.



Drum Training Drill for Quarter-Backs (QB)

Using a single bass tan tan and mallets on the field, the drum circle facilitator observes the QB's body rhythms and footwork as he executes various snaps and plays, and creates audible rhythms that mirror his movements, and records this. The facilitator then instructs the QB to play a series of rhythms on two drums to simulate his steps, drop backs, and release motion with the ball. The QB can do this in an undisturbed room or facility. He is instructed on how to  play his movement and body patterns on the instruments, each beat in synchronization with every step and turn. This football drill helps improve QB timing & movement in the pocket, to be more aware of elapsed time after the snap, and is an excellent warm-up drill before games.




Free Form Team-Building Drum Circle

Its purpose is to open up communications and strengthen the whole of the team. Group drumming can be used to train a team to remain focused & connected amid stadium noise and physical distractions. Drum circles also change the dynamics within a team by allowing newer younger team-mates to step up and become leaders in the rhythm conversation. This can have long lasting effects on an individual's confidence, and on the team. The setting, message, and affirmations also impact outcomes. For instance, a quiet room or setting might allow for more provocative thought, whereas, a circle at night around a fire can further the energy, team, connection, and morale. It is the drum circle facilitator's skill and insight that guides this practice and plays a pivotal role in the successful outcomes.




Drumming Methods can help Players with Post Concussion Syndrome & PTSD

    We have a variety of therapeutic drumming methods to aid individuals with neurologic sequela and neurological disorders. SEE our Drum Circle Facilitation and Drumming for Wellness pages for more information. NFL teams should be using drumming in controlling the manifestations of sensory processing disorders & PTSD associated with concussion.





Drum Circles & Basketball for your Brain and Concussion

Visit out two new "neuroscience" web pages on basketball & drumming with basketball, and drum circles in the workplace, where we delve into sports science, brain science, mindfulness, and methods in using basketball (and drumming) for treatment of concussion.

Drumming for Basketball Web Page

In his full blog below, Stephen shares some of his proven mindfulness and healing techniques, plus brain and body fitness drills in basketball. He has lived with the disorder, hydrocephalus, since 1992. The drumming with basketball web page is linked above. The full basketball blog is linked below.

Sports Science vs. Brain Science of Basketball Blog (June 4, 2015) - DolleCommunications Blog






Scheduling a Drum Circle or Workshop

To schedule a drum circle or workshop, contact Stephen Dolle per the contact information below. Please also complete and fax/email this Drum Circle Facilitation Client & Deposit Agreement. You may also make payments and deposits via our PayPal link below.

Email: contact[at]dollecommunications[dot]com


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