Human Kinetics just published a new book, “Assessment in Applied Sport Psychology,” edited by Dr. Jim Taylor. I’m excited to have contributed Chapter 10, “Applied Psychophysiology:  Using Biofeedback, Neurofeedback, and Visual Feedback,” collaborating with a world class team of authors (Dr. Sheryl Smith, Dr. Melissa Hunfalvy, and Dr. Pierre Beauchamp). I think my colleagues in the field, and those aspiring to enter sport psychology will find the book and our chapter quite useful.

Every athlete knows that the ability to handle the stress of competitions plays an essential role in their ability to perform their best when it matters most. Psychophysiological assessment allows athletes to quantify their stress and thereby act to manage it effectively. Research has shown that elevated sympathetic nervous system activity can negatively impact performance in several ways including attention rigidity, visual search mistakes, and information processing errors. Enabling the parasympathetic nervous system to work more harmoniously with the sympathetic nervous system can promote flexible attention and situational awareness, and can thus enhance performance. When given autonomic nervous system data in real time through biofeedback, performers have greater awareness of and control over their psychophysiology (Blumenstein, 2002; Zaichowsky,1982). Similarly, neurofeedback uses highly sensitive instruments to illuminate brain activity associated with athletic performance. There are several concrete benefits associated with utilizing psychophysiological assessment: 1) Current states of functioning can be identified, revealing fitness level and readiness to perform; 2) Optimal performance states can be identified and subsequently trained, monitoring status prior to, during, and after athletic performances; 3) Personalized stress profiles can provide “report cards” at various stages of training, demonstrating short-term physiological activation levels and recovery times.

Advantages of providing athletes with this data include the ability to chart benchmarks and overall progress. It also facilitates increased moment-to-moment self-awareness and influence over self-regulation of stress responses such as muscle tension, respiration, heart rate variability, mental clarity, and visual perception. Psychophysiological assessment adds to the toolbox of those striving for excellence to more consistently recreate optimal psychophysiological states associated with their best performances.

Check it out!  And for those professionals, and aspiring professionals, looking to integrate biofeedback into their performance practice, consider reaching out to Tim to explore possible mentorship!