Tag: sports Psychology

BIO feedback the way forward to better performance

Biofeedback - M N Viswanath

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:

  1. In controlling anxiety [stress management].
  2. Reduce or induce energy& intensity.
  3. In improving attention.
  4. To facilitate injury rehabilitation.
  5. To improve performance consistency. [Athletics, music, dance etc].
  6. To improve overall conscious brain functioning.
  7. 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.

http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/just-published-scientific-paper-shows-positive-results-of-neurofeedback-to-reduce-symptoms-of-anxiety-and-depression-300425036.html

M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at viswanath.author@gmail.com

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click here, amazon

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What Mental Mockery Can Do To You?

KL Rahul( Cricket Country)
KL Rahul in action against Australia in Dharamsala test.

( picture from cricketcountry.com)

On 26/3/17 the second day of the fourth test match between India and Australia at Dharamsala: Post lunch session- Opener K.L.Rahul who played with a lots of patience and responsibility since play began in the morning was batting on 60 and facing up to Pat Cummins, who was bowling a spell that was hostile, intimidating and fast with speeds of over 145. In that over after every ball, Pat Cummins muttered something to Rahul: the first time Rahul ignored it: the second time he stared back and nodded his head in dissent. The next ball was bounced: Rahul instead of allowing the ball to go past him decided to slog it over mid-on but ended up giving a simple catch to mid-off. Rahul even in his wildest dreams would not play such a rash shot. All the good work was undone with one shot. It was a simple case of rush of blood, lapse of concentration, and momentary brain fade. What led to this? Obviously, it was Pat Cummins mental mockery. In the end it was Pat who had the last laugh and Rahul was forced to leave dejected and defeated. Pat forced Rahul in to mental disintegration coaxing him to play a reckless shot. In fact, Rahul tried to give-it- back- to- Pat Cummins by playing an aggressive shot- which was the wrong thing to do.

A sporting contest normally is an execution of different skills to get the better of your opponents to gain supremacy over the other. But, when things are not going their way: it has been a customary practice with the players to play mental games to regain control of the proceedings. In cricket, players indulge in verbal bashing commonly known as sledging– especially on the batsman in order to irritate, provoke and intimidate. The result is that the batsman loses concentration- internally, by his own frustrating & irritating thoughts and externally, by all the drama that is going on around him.

Mind games are not restricted to cricket alone: we have seen it happen in Tennis, where players like John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors were infamous for using negative tactics to win matches. Whenever the opponent was holding the upper hand they held up matches-by picking up fights with spectators, protesting against linesman, referee or officials. In the melee the hapless opponents waiting for the game to restart would get irritated and frustrated and by the time the game started they would have lost their concentration and rhythm. Ultimately, fortunes would change and they would end up losing the match. Time wasting, irritating habits, verbal abuse, negative body language are also some of the mind games players’ play to fox their opponents in to submission. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid were not two batsmen who let sledging get in to their mind nor did they react negatively to the abettors with all the drama happening around them.

How to deal with mental mockery?  

  1. The best thing would be to ignore and look elsewhere.
  2. Do not look directly in to the eyes of the person engaged in sledging.
  3. When sledging is happening around you, focus on something different like the pitch, the stumps, and the greenery of the turf around you. If you are playing a game like tennis- look around to spot something of a particular color like green, blue, white or yellow OR look at the strings of your racquet
  4. Take it with a smile and treat it just as another banter- with the guys trying to break your mind with their antics. The more you take it seriously the more stressed you are going to be. Change your thoughts to positive and focus on what is important at that point of time. Try to maintain your composure even under severe provocation.
  5. Hum your favorite tune or focus on your breathing to take away your mind from all the distractions.
  6. Mental preparedness using the above mantras is the key to handle mental mockery. You know you’ll be sledged – be prepared for it.

M N Viswanath, author of Success Mantra In Sports and sports performance coach, he can be reached at viswanath.author@gmail.com

The book Success Mantra In Sports is available on Amazon and flipkart. To book your copy you can click here, amazon

You can also follow at

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