The goal of any sport psychology peak performance program is to empower the athlete with the skills to self-regulate his/her psychophysiology. Psychophysiology is the interrelationship between psychological and physiological processes. The fight or flight response, otherwise known as the alarm reaction or startle response, can create muscular bracing or over activation of the sympathetic nervous system.
Stress responses can occur when there is an imbalance between demand and believed ability to respond to that demand. This stress response can be triggered by cognitive worries of athletic performance outcomes, even before competition begins. External events, such as making an easy error, or perceived distractions in the athletic environment can also trigger the stress response.
Athletes often say, “I just want to play up to my potential.” Biofeedback training is a way for athletes to achieve insight and control over their minds and bodies during athletic challenges. The inter-relationship between psychological and physiological processes is dynamic and bi-directional. Emotion drives physiology, perception, confidence and energy levels. Emotional mismanagement disables performance. Biofeedback tools are used to help the athlete recognize shifts in anxiety, and stress levels. The noninvasive instruments of biofeedback guide athletes in identifying these states and provide real-time feedback and training to teach the athlete body and mind awareness. As all athletes know, they are the only ones who can make necessary adjustments when they are competing.
Susan Zaro specializes in sport psychology and is Board Certified in Biofeedback. She utilizes biofeedback as a means to work with athletes of all ages and develop peak performance and anxiety management skills.
Five Session Biofeedback Program:
1) Introduction to biofeedback, history of sport involvement, identifying issues and goal setting with the client.
2.) Psychophysiological Stress Profile
3.) Resonant frequency assessment. Review of personal biofeedback training tools and training in diaphragmatic breathing to match resonance frequency.
4.) Biofeedback resonant frequency training reinforcement. Problem solve issues.
5.) Review home practices and biofeedback training protocols. Review goals and provide adjustments to clients practices.
Frequently Asked Questions about Biofeedback
1) What does Board Certified in Biofeedback mean?
Board Certification demonstrates professionalism and adherence to carefully developed standards as a healthcare provider. BCIA was established in 1981 with the mission of protecting the general public by establishing strict standards for biofeedback practitioners. The Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA) is the only institute recognized worldwide that grants certification to biofeedback practitioners. The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB), the Biofeedback Foundation of Europe (BFE) and the International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) all endorse BCIA certification.
2) How can an athlete benefit from Biofeedback Training?
Competitive anxiety is a common emotion for many athletes of all ages. Anxiety and stress reactions to challenges can greatly impact the chemical responses within our body. In sport competition some athletes report that their body feels heavy and their reaction time both mentally and physically feels sluggish. Other athletes may respond by becoming overaroused and feel that everything is sped up and out of their control. Biofeedback training can be helpful to athletes to managing their psychophysiological reactions around competition.
3) Is Biofeedback Training a relaxation training?
Biofeedback Training is frequently used in combination with relaxation techniques such as visualization, progressive relaxation, quieting response and other self-regulation strategies. Biofeedback Training is an awareness model. The athlete is taught awareness skills to self-manage the psychophysilogical processes that would normally be outside their awareness.
4) What’s involved in a Biofeedback session?
A biofeedback training session usually lasts from fifteen to thirty minutes as part of a sixty minute session. Non-invasive sensors which monitor heart rate, respiration, muscular tension, hand temperature and galvanic skin response are attached to the skin. The feedback from the sensors allows the athlete to see in real-time their physiological reactions while resting, practicing or participating in a competitive enviroment.
5) How many Biofeedback Sessions are necessary to see improvement?
Each person is different and each situation is different. After the intitial assessment I offer a five step protocol. There are homework assignments inbetween sessions. The homework assignments are easy tools that can be downloaded onto a smart phone or computer. The more consistent the person is with his/her training the quicker he/she will see results. Some people have underlying issues that arise and benefit from more sessions.
6) Is Biofeedback Training covered by insurance?
Yes, Biofeedback is generally covered by insurance. This varies among insurance carriers, check first with your insurance provider.