For years, common wisdom has held that athletic performance is rooted in genetics and peak physical enhancement of the body. But journalist Brandon Sneed has another idea: that mental engineering — training the cognitive process of the brain — presents yet a new level of sports performance, and that athletes, despite already being at the top of the genetic pool, can actually become better.
This is a watershed idea — the conscious alteration of our brains can have drastic effects, so much so that elite athletes around the world are already seeing incredible results: stars like Steph Curry, Kerri Walsh Jennings, Russell Wilson, and dozens others are experimenting with this concept. They are hooking their brains to computers and using other cutting-edge technology that seems like stuff out of sci-fi movies to get at the root of their respective performance. What they are finding helps them is eye-opening, powerful, and, in their words, “life-changing.”
In Head in the Game, Sneed takes on a mesmerizing tour of what seems to be a new frontier in performance enhancement, from neuroscience labs at Duke, to the Super Bowl, to the mountains of Patagonia, to the Taj Mahal of virtual reality, to the jungles of Peru, and beyond. Anchoring all of this is a dynamic cast of characters, from the director of human performance at Red Bull, to the former Nike higher-up who left to start his own cognitive engineering company, to the drug addict who built sensory deprivation chambers in a fit of near-madness only to find them in high demand by the world’s best athletes, to paradigm-shattering neuroscientists who have created technology that allows athletes to look at their brains using a headset and a smartphone, and many more.
What does all of this add up to? Not only is it dramatically altering the gazillion-dollar and ever-expanding landscape of sports business, and revolutionizing how teams and owners analyze athletes — it is changing the way we think about how athletes do what they do, and what we might learn from them. Most of all, this is not going away.
In turns comical and revelatory, shocking and thrilling, thoughtful and moving, Head in the Game brings a new level of understanding to what is possible for our world’s elite athletes — and what is possible for all of us.
“This book is so much fun. Brandon Sneed is such an engaging tour guide to a world I knew very little about. Sneed calls it ‘This Stuff,’ all the tools and techniques used by elite athletes to consciously alter their brains in pursuit of peak performances. In his fascinating Head in the Game, Sneed goes on a global quest to discover how athletes are merging science and technology to maximize their mental athleticism. By introducing us to techniques like hyperplasticity and neurosignaling and tools named NuCalm and NeuroTracker, Sneed has written a thrilling manifesto that reveals the many ways we can enhance the efficiency of our brains to improve our games and our lives.”
— Don Van Natta Jr., ESPN investigative reporter, Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author of First Off the Tee, Her Way and Wonder Girl
“In Head in the Game, Brandon Sneed takes us on an absorbing journey into the workings of not only high-achieving athletes’ minds, but, along the way, the minds of us all. Exquisitely researched and told with a commanding and accessible voice, Sneed has shared insights that are not only often revelatory, but potentially life-changing, for any — or all — of us. Plus, it’s pretty damned fascinating to read. No matter whether you come at Sneed’s work as a sports freak or a student of neuroscience, this is a g–damned jewel.”
— Peter Richmond, New York Times bestselling author of Badasses
“Brandon Sneed has pulled off something extraordinary: He has written a book that will make you re-think everything you thought you knew about performance. A seamless blend of brave memoir, deep science, and relentless journalism, Head in The Game is a graceful story about a revolution in sports and, ultimately, what it means to be a human being. If the brain is the new Wild West of performance training, Sneed is our thoughtful and tireless cowboy guide. A stunning work of narrative non-fiction.”
— Lars Anderson, New York Times best-selling author of seven books, including The Mannings and The Storm and The Tide
“We often look toward athletes and marvel at their 40 times, their verticals, their bench presses. But surely there has to be more to this whole thing. In Head in the Game, Brandon Sneed offers a deep dive into the cranial lobes of elite athletes. You’ll marvel at what he uncovers.”
— Jeff Pearlman, former senior writer at Sports Illustrated and New York Times bestselling author of Gunslinger, Showtime, Sweetness, Boys Will Be Boys
“This book is great. Head in the Game opens your eyes so much to the new world of mental engineering in sports that it’s a feat of mental engineering of its own: Anyone looking to learn more about the world around them and how the athletes they adore do what they do should read it immediately.”
— Will Leitch, author Are We Winning? and God Save The Fan
“In his awesome book Head in the Game, Sneed pulls back the veil on one of the most important, but least talked about, aspects of sports: the mind. In an engaging, articulate, entertaining way, Sneed shows us how the very best athletes get an edge in a world in which finding an edge is nearly impossible. This book will captivate both casual and rabid sports fans.”
“There’s a revolution around the corner in sports that this book and Sneed’s captivating voice bring into focus in marvelous detail to illuminate what lies ahead. Head In The Game is a remarkable examination.”
— Brin-Jonathan Butler, author of The Domino Diaries (Boston Globe Best of 2015, PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing shortlist)
Hwy 55 Burgers, Shakes & Fries, formerly known as Andy’s, spent 20 years nestled quietly in North Carolina until they started franchising outside of the state in 2012. They expanded at an astonishing rate, in two years selling franchising rights for nearly 1,000 stores worldwide and becoming recognized as one of the best franchises in the United States. For founder and CEO Kenney Moore, who grew up poor and destined for a lifetime of anonymous mediocrity, it was the American Dream come true.
But along the way, mistakes and personal demons Moore thought he buried in the past caught up to him, and they threatened to destroy everything.
Behind the Drive covers Moore and Hwy 55’s fight to survive and explores the good, the bad, and the ugly of what it really means to chase the American Dream. The result is a raw, honest story perfect for our anxious, cynical time, a story that says despite our past, our fears, or our failures, although the American Dream might look different than it used to, it’s still very much alive — and, as Moore discovers, can take us as far as we dare to imagine.
“A great read! This book contains much wisdom as well as practical lessons about business as well as life. Kenney Moore is a man who loves people – and he gets the fact that the business of business is people.”
— James C. Hunter, international bestselling author of The Servant
“I can’t say enough about this book. Behind The Drive is a brilliant reminder of what really matters in both business and life. Kenney Moore bares his soul, flaws and failures and all, with a stark honesty that makes this one of the bravest and most refreshing books I’ve read in a long time. And on top of all that, it’s a beautifully written, simply thrilling story full of high drama, a gripping read from start to finish. This is an essential book for anybody — of any generation — who wants more out of life.”
— Pat Williams, Orlando Magic Senior Vice President and bestselling author of more than 95 books, including Coach Wooden, The Mission Is Remission, and How To Be Like Walt
“Kenney Moore is a rebel with a heart of gold — and with a story that our world needs right now. As you read about his excruciating battle with the banks — and with himself — to save his business, you’re not just learning from him, but you find yourself rooting for him harder and harder with every page. By the end of Behind The Drive you’re not only cheering for the man, you want to join his cause, which is clearly about much more than merely building himself an empire. Whoever you are, whatever your story, whatever your politics or your beliefs, whatever your lot in life, Behind The Drive is a must-read for anybody with a dream.”
— Kennan Burch, President and Founder of Brand Catalyst Partners
“‘Genuine best’ describes Kenney’s story and Kenney’s approach to life and people. I have had the pleasure to know Kenney for 15 years, personally and professionally. We have a shared passion for helping others identify and activate their American Dream. This book is a vivid example of how and why it is still alive. Kenney is truly driven to excel and inspired to pay it forward. He has lived an inspirational life, reflected perfectly in this book.”
— Samir Gupte, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at OTG Management, former Senior Vice President of Culture at Darden Restaurants
Brandon Sneed’s debut book chronicles Barton College’s run to its first and only national championship appearance in the 2007 NCAA Division II basketball tournament, which epitomized the meaning of March Madness. And when the Bulldogs took on undefeated defending national champion Winona State University in the finals, they were the ultimate underdogs, too small in every way. Predictably, they trailed by 7 with 45 seconds left, and the game was all but Winona’s.
Then hometown hero Anthony “Ant” Atkinson led perhaps the greatest comeback in all of college basketball championship history, and Barton went from ordinary Division II unknown to the most celebrated team of the year.
That game was the phenomenal culmination of Ant’s heart-wrenching saga. From age six, Ant lived for two things: a future in basketball, and to see the face of God. Along the way, he became an electrifying talent, proven in battle against the likes of Chris Paul and Rajon Rondo, but his life didn’t play out like those future NBA superstars, like everyone thought it would.
The Edge of Legend is about an incredible story of faith and basketball, but it’s also about a son and his father, generational curses and broken dreams, and a relentless pursuit of redemption.
“The best basketball story.” — SLAM
“Within the hidden world of Division II basketball, there is a story so fantastic … so otherworldly that it absolutely needs to be told. Here, in The Edge of Legend, lies the raw, gritty heart of the game. Brandon Sneed does a masterful job. A must-read.” — Jeff Pearlman (New York Times bestselling author of Showtime, Sweetness, Boys Will Be Boys)
“The story of Anthony Atkinson is like so many great American stories: Unlikely, inspiring and sadly untold. But no longer. Brandon Sneed gives Anthony’s story the care and platform it deserves.” — Will Leitch (founder of Deadspin, author of Are We Winning? and God Save The Fan)
“Anthony Atkinson was the key ingredient, the not-so-secret formula, behind one of the greatest comebacks, and the greatest upsets, of all time. Brandon Sneed tells [his] story so very well, from the heart, from humble beginnings, to the triumphant climax that is indeed The Edge of Legend.” – Russell Rawlings (author of Cyclone Country)
“The Edge of Legend is the rare sports tale that deals with deeper issues. Can’t encourage those who love sports to check it out enough. You won’t be disappointed.” – Tony Ripa (staff writer, Port City Community Church, Wilmington, NC)