Biofeedback is among the various self-regulation techniques that mental performance consultants can utilize in their practice with athletes. Biofeedback produces psychophysiological assessments in real time to enhance awareness of thoughts and emotions. Quantitatively, research shows that biofeedback can facilitate self-regulation, allowing an athlete to gain control over psychophysiological responses that could be detrimental to performance. With technology becoming a widespread tool in monitoring psychophysiological states, an exploration of consultants’ use of biofeedback, their perceptions of effectiveness, and limitations of their use was warranted to qualitatively evaluate efficiency of the tool. A qualitative descriptive approach was taken through semistructured interviews with 10 mental performance consultants. Inductive reasoning uncovered three themes: positive implications, practical limitations, and equipment options. With biofeedback, athletes have the ability to develop a deeper level of self-awareness and thereby facilitate the use of self-regulation strategies intended for optimal performance states and outcomes.
Kendra Nelson Ferguson and Craig Hall
Kendra Nelson Ferguson, Craig Hall and Alison Divine
The study aimed to determine whether athletes who practice biofeedback are able to self-regulate by reaching resonance frequency and gaining physiological control quicker than if practice time integrates imagery or a rest period. Intervention effectiveness (e.g., intervention length, time spent training) was also explored. Twenty-seven university athletes were assigned to one of three groups: (a) biofeedback (i.e., continuous training), (b) biofeedback/imagery (i.e., interspersed with imagery), and (c) biofeedback/rest (i.e., interspersed with a rest period). Five biofeedback sessions training respiration rate, heart rate variability, and skin conductance were conducted. A repeated-measure analysis of variance showed a significant interaction between groups over time (p ≤ .05) for respiration rate, heart rate variability, and skin conductance, indicating that resonance frequency and physiological control was regained following imagery or a rest period. Postmanipulation check data found intervention length and training time to be sufficient. Combining imagery with biofeedback may optimize management of psychophysiological processes.