India had never won a gold medal in the individual event of the summer Olympics since its inception, until Abhinav Bindra did on the 11 August by winning the 10M Air rifle event of the Beijing Olympics 2008. He also has the honour of being India’s first gold medallist of a world shooting championship.
Indeed the Olympic gold did not fall in to his lap one day from above nor was it bought like the way a publisher in Delhi crudely suggested: Abhinav had to work hard for it in every way and he left no stone unturned in its pursuit. He tried everything- hiring foreign trainers and coaches, running on the Alps in bitter cold, climbing a 40 feet pizza pole, walking on a swaying bridge and climbing walls-to conquer fear, dry firing in dark room, the Samadhi tank, training at the US Olympic training centre and training with the bio-neuro feedback equipment to obtain psychophysiology recordings. Abhinav tried his hand on the neuro [bio] feedback equipment with the help of Tim Harkness, a sports psychologist from South Africa-before the Beijing Olympics. Abhinav Bindra agrees that neuro-feedback is a fantastic tool with a powerful effect on performance. The last mentioned is of curious importance to me- as a sports psychology coach and as a proud owner & practitioner of bio feedback technology. Let me explain on what is Bio-feedback, its applications & uses.
Bio-feedback [of which neuro-feedback is a part] is a computer based technology by which it is possible to know what is happening with in our body and brain as we think, feel and perform. The BFB & NFB recordings are utilized for:
- In controlling anxiety [stress management].
- Reduce or induce energy& intensity.
- In improving attention.
- To facilitate injury rehabilitation.
- To improve performance consistency. [Athletics, music, dance etc].
- To improve overall conscious brain functioning.
- To treat repetitive strain injury- i.e. posture defects like low back pain.
The body and mind react in different ways during training and competition as well as during poor performance and successful performance. A teacher, coach or trainer will not be able to identify through the naked eye, these subtle differences across situations. So, a competitive situation is simulated in the lab settings and the performer [athlete, dancer, musician, singer, student, patient, computer professional etc] is trained to read the body’s feedback through the feedback mechanism[ NFB, BFB] – sweaty palms, shallow breathing, muscle tension, changes in heart beats and brain wave patterns are sure indicators of stress. The client is taught to bring these readings to control as required and then trained to take on the field in competition without the aid of the feedback machine and to perform in an Ideal performance state [IPS]. The modalities of biofeedback commonly used are- sEMG – to measure muscle tension. EDA/GSR- to measure arousal- indicated by sweat & perspiration in the hands. HRA- to measure variation of heart rate. Thermal feedback to measure- skin temperature. Respiration- to measure rate of breathing. EEG- to measure brain waves and study brain functioning.
The most successful application of Feedback technology is the `PEAK PERFORMANCE’ related to sports and performing arts. This technology is widely used in the west to train Olympic athletes of both summer and winter Olympic Games. It is extensively used to train the archers, shooters and golfers Generally BFB& NFB can be applied to any sport or any performance as such.
A mind room using the BFB & NFB technology was created for the 2006 Soccer World cup winning Italian team. The Chelsea football club also has a mind room with feedback technology- created for its players.
A paper published recently shows the positive results of NFB to reduce symptoms of Anxiety and depression.
M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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