What is peak performance?

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Peak performance does not depend on physical strength alone. The emotional state and mental focus are also critical to be the best. Insights from neuroscience and psychophysiology can help to optimize peak performance.

Where physiology meets psychology

A difference of just 100 milliseconds can be the difference between winning or losing. At the peak of physical strength, the difference can be made by the mental focus of an athlete, especially when performing under high pressure. Therefore the mental strength of an athlete is at least as important as the physical strength for improving performance. Athletes have to be able to relaxed and control their mental state if they want to perform optimally. Biofeedback and neurofeedback technology can be helpful for athletes to detect and control shifts in their mental state while resting, practicing, or participating in a high-stress and competitive environment. Biofeedback and neurofeedback refer to technology which enables an athlete to monitor the physiological signals of the mind-body system in real-time. This enables us to notice and learn how to gain control of the physiological and psychological state which is critical for peak performance.

To improve peak performance it is important to capture and record bodily functions before, during and after training or competition, e.g. brain function, heart rate, respiration, muscle tension, and many other quantifiable measures of human performance. Common physiological measures of performance can be monitored by the use of sensors on the athlete's body. By acquiring, analyzing and understanding the ideal individual levels of the bodily functions an athlete can reach his maximum peak in performance.

Benefits of biofeedback and neurofeedback

The two key points in peak performance are stress management and improving focus. Athletes can benefit using biofeedback and neurofeedback while training peak performance by, reducing stress and anxiety. getting more control over energy levels, learning better to focus and achieve self-regulation, and improving consistency in performance. It can also help to facilitate recovery from an injury.

There are several training techniques to improve peak performance. Besides that biofeedback and neurofeedback can also have an added value for existing techniques. One training technique is visualization. This technique intendeds to reduce stress, to enhance relaxation, and to sustain focus by directing the attention of the athlete to a specific aspect of the routine or performance. An athlete develops mental cues to help eliminate distractions such as crowd noise or movements. The type of cue that will function best for a particular athlete will be tailored as a result of the training process. E.g. shooting athletes and golfers seek to reduce their heart rate through deep breathing and other regeneration methods. In some sports, simulators can be incorporated to assist the athlete, e.g. bobsledders can use a computer controlled simulator to replicate the physiological sensations that they experience on particular courses. When athletes know that a difficult corner lies ahead, they can anticipate much better.

Equipment for peak performance

The NeXus technology enables the optimization of stress management (before and during peak performance) and the optimization of mental focus and concentration. This is achieved by measuring the various signals from the autonomic and central nervous system and using them in a live training session where they are "fed-back". NeXus technology and BioTrace+ software from Mind Media enable training and fine-tuning of the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, and the autonomic and central nervous system, to improve mental focus and emotional self-regulation during those moments where every millisecond counts!

NeXus systems:

  • are multimodal for biofeedback, neurofeedback, and physiological monitoring;
  • are small, portable and communicate wirelessly through bluetooth with very accurate signal recording;
  • are flexible and provides easy step-by-step recording which can be used for dedicated peak performance training;
  • allow in-the -field measurement or simulated feedback like videos to simulate competitive performance;
  • can plot information in comparison to actual progress made from start to finish;
  • supports a wide range of sensors for signals and applications like EEG (brain waves), HRV/ ECG (heart rate), respiration, EMG (muscle tension), skin conductance, bloodflow, reaction time. force, and acceleration.

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