Aquis Titans playmaker, Jarryd Hayne, has taken his pre-season training to the limit with a series of physical and mental challenges at the NSWIS High Performance Centre.

Entering his first official pre-season with the Titans, Hayne attended a special training session at the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Academy, hosted by the NSW Institute of Sport (NSWIS).

The 28-year old was on hand to try out the NSWIS-developed ‘Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Academy’, a training program specifically designed to improve the skills of Australian eSports stars.

This includes activities such as performance stressor tests where athletes do a 10km cycling time trial and then complete cognitive tests and repeat to demonstrate the effect of stress and fatigue on the body, and identify how to fight through it.

There’s also team building, nutrition, leadership and decision making activities, as well as a performance stress skills test in the pool where athletes hold their breath under water and learn to calm their mind, allowing them to recognise the subtle changes that take place in their thoughts, behaviours and physiology when stress increases.

“It’s about being relaxed under pressure, under stress, and performing when it matters most,” Hayne said of the program after road-testing it himself with Australia’s Mindfreak eSports team.

“It’s been great, always good to learn off the pros, get their tips and it is good insight as well. I always love learning about different areas of professionals and what they do.

“A bunch of the guys in the NRL love it, we’ve got some keen gamers who spend multiple hours playing [video games] in the off-season.”

But don’t get too excited about the possibility of the ‘Hayne Plane’ making a foray into professional eSports.

“Nah no way, I haven’t got that much time on my hands,” Hayne said, despite being an avid gamer and accomplished cross-code athlete.

“I’ve seen a couple of competitions. The fanfare, it’s pretty surreal seeing the stadiums full and the guys going at it. It creates a great atmosphere and it’d be pretty difficult there with all those people watching while you’re game-playing.”

 The Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Academy was developed to enhance the skills of local esports professionals. Participants endured a series of intense trials:

-          The performance stressor test used a light board to measure the participants’ reaction times and hand-eye co-ordination, an exercise that was repeated after a physical drill, to demonstrate the effects of fatigue.

-          To combat the negative impact of stress, participants were placed in an extreme stress environment underwater, allowing NSWIS’s performance psychologist to teach them stress management strategies to quieten the mind and optimise performance.

-          In the Mindroom they were taught how to improve attentional skills by tracking multiple moving objects in a 3D field.