New Directions in Sport Psychology
Riding is a very challenging sport. Not only do riders need strength, balance, coordination, good timing, we must also effectively manage emotions such as fear and anger.
Perhaps you suffer from competition anxiety, a common problem. At shows your thoughts race; you can’t stop them or even slow them down. Breathing is shallow your chest feels tight; your heart pounds. You try to calm your breathing and to focus on your upcoming ride but every noise and movement distracts you. Your horse, sensing your nervousness,responds by getting uptight. Similar challenges happen at home as well.
Rider may turn to sport psychologists for help in these and other similar scenarios. Trained experts can help to overcome mental blocks and barriers to effective performance. Even if you’ve never seen a sport psychologists you’ve probably used or at least heard of the kinds of mental skills that can improve performance.
Techniques such as relaxation imagery, goal-setting, focus, concentration and positive self-talk. But even if you practice such methods under a professional’s guidance can be difficult to know when you are doing a mental skill correctly. What’s more under stress those carefully rehearsed skills have a way of evaporating, leaving you feeling almost as tense and out of control as you did before you started. How do you change this frustrating situation?
The answer may very well be in one of the new areas becoming popular in sports training. Psychophysiological training with biofeedback has been successfully utilized by Canadian and German athletes and is currently being used to prepare The United States 2016 Olympic hopefuls.
Intro to Biofeedback
Biofeedback as its name suggests gives users information about is going on in their minds or bodies, information that normally they would not be able to obtain. Armed with this information the user can learn to control various biological processes as well as to monitor mental and emotional states. After a user decides on an area for improvement, the biofeedback program guides him or her through the process of learning to make changes.
Biofeedback addresses physiological states related to stress responses in the body. By learning to control these physiological responses, stress and anxiety are better managed. Some of the equipment is designed to give feedback about muscle tension, brain wave activity and heart rate for example.
The primary physiological factors addressed with biofeedback are muscle tension, focus as measured by brain wave activity and relaxation in general as measured by “heart rate variability” or HRV.
There are four types of biofeedback; Muscle Activity (EMG), Heart rate Variability (HRV), Neurofeedback and Interactive Metronome TM. Check back soon for more information on biofeedback on www.equexcellence.com