Sport Performance and Biofeedback Applications
Many athletes can perform well under perfect conditions when everything goes right. Suddenly, things change against you and the pressure is on. Often, athletes will think about what can go wrong. And this anticipation of what “CAN” go wrong will trigger many physiological reactions such as increased respiration and heart rate, as well as increased muscle tension.
Some athletes thrive under these conditions and welcome pressure because they can use this extra burst of energy (activation) in their favor. But for most athletes, “the extra activation” will go beyond what is needed to perform and will result in decreased performance.
Uh oh! I think I am nervous.
And if you get “nervous,” it happened because your mind jumped to the future to think about what would be the consequences of performing badly in front of your loved ones. Or your mind went to the past to associate the current situation with past circumstances when you performed badly. And this anticipation of what “COULD” go wrong led to too much "activation" or more energy than what is needed at the moment.
How can Biofeedback help?
Imagine that you have a mirror to look inside your body and see how you are responding to challenging situations in sport. And if you could see how your body is responding, wouldn’t it be good if you could adjust it? This is what Biofeedback does; it gives you biological feedback about how your body is responding during challenging situations in sport. And based on this information, you can learn to adjust your responses to maximize performance.Read More
If you are responding with too much muscle tension, it can slow your reaction time. Or with the muscles too tight, you lose coordination and make mistakes when you are performing your sport skills.
If you respond with an increased heart rate, you will get tired too fast.
If you respond with an increased respiration rate or hyperventilating, it will lead to fatigue. It also leads to less oxygen delivered to the brain, a foggy mind, and difficult managing mood during competitions.
Biofeedback and Mental Training
Biofeedback is just a tool used to help you understand your physiological reactions when the "pressure is on" and re-train it. Psychological skills training includes another set of tools that will question your interpretation of events related to your sport and teach you new ways to re-think those situations. So, in simple words, you will learn skills to discipline your mind (re-set your mind) and learn to manage the physiological responses in your body (with Biofeedback).
“In sport or life, we will face challenges that are above our skill level, and our performance does not depend on the type of challenge or stressor, but how we respond to them.”
As a mental performance consultant, I received a master’s degree in sport and performance psychology. Also, I am a Sport Performance Consultant certified by the American Board of Sport Psychology, which includes training in Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.
As a professional athlete, I traveled worldwide and competed for more than ten years representing Hawaii and the USA in the Bodyboarding World Tour. My experience as an athlete gives me first-hand insight into the joy and happiness of winning as well as the agony and embarrassment of defeat. No graduate schools can teach you that.