Effectiveness of an integrated mental skills and biofeedback training program on sport shooters

Emily Ortega and John Wang Chee Keng

National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

As winning margins narrow in competitive elite sports, the management of psychological and physiological states are critical to ensure optimal performance, especially in closed skill accuracy sports. This intervention study examines the effectiveness of an integrated mental skills and biofeedback training program on fifty air rifle and air pistol shooters from a school air weapons team. The experimental group participated in an intervention program focused on self-talk, relaxation, imagery, and automaticity (or routines), together with HRV biofeedback training. Post-intervention, the experimental group had significantly higher pre-performance HRV and had higher scores for self-talk, relaxation, imagery, and automaticity compared to the control group. Although shooting scores improved at the end of the intervention, the increase was not statistically significant but has great practical implications in elite sport. The improvement in HRV together with the higher shooting scores post-intervention shows improved psychophysiological control which was translated into better performance.

Keywords: Biofeedback, Heart Rate variability, Mental skills, Shooting, psychophysiology


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