Biofeedback training has been widely recognized as an excellent way to promote a relaxed state for many sports applications. Many studies have been done on using biofeedback as a method of relaxation and to increase performance.
Athletes should ask themselves “Can I perform better in a relaxed state?” If it is the bottom of the ninth, with the bases loaded, the athlete needs to be able to clear their mind and focus on the performance. Anxiety and high stress can cause many athletes to “choke” in clutch situations. By learning to alter their mental and physiological state with a few simple relaxation techniques they tend to perform better. Biofeedback devices are great tools in achieving these results.
There have been several Olympic athletes, NHL hockey teams, professional football teams, golfers and more, that have credited biofeedback training as a factor in their success.
In a recent chat with Thought Technology Vice President Lawrence Klein, he could not resist the opportunity to discuss the many uses of his company’s biofeedback and neurofeedback equipment. Mr. Klein said, “We have a strong presence in professional and elite sports.” Thought Technology’s equipment has been used by a number of leading Olympic Sport Coaches and several professional sports teams.
Some teams have even set up mental training centers where trainers monitor the brainwaves and other physical functions such as surface EMG, temperature, GSR, heart rate, and respiration. This helps the players learn to reduce performance anxiety and improve their ability to focus under stress – giving them the “mental edge” they need to win.
There are devices like the Resperate, that promote meditative breathing patterns and very simple to use items such as the GSR2, that measures minute changes in skin conductance or resistance and conveys the stress level by an audio tone. These devices are easy to use and very effective. Organizations and teams have also used more sophisticated systems that measure multiple physiological measurements at once for a picture of the body’s stress level.
More recently there are products being introduced to help speed up reaction time. Reaction time can be crucial in many sporting events and in the Olympics millisecond can be the difference between gold and bronze.
Below are a couple of videos about biofeedback and athletic performance.