Temporal pattern of pre-shooting psycho-physiological states in elite athletes: A probabilistic approach

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Abstract

Objective:

The IZOF-based probabilistic approach provides a methodology to study within-individual patterns of a performer's states. So far, the time course of physiological data before performance have not been investigated within the probabilistic methodology framework. The purpose of this study was to examine the value of the probabilistic approach in the assessment of the time course of physiological indicators of arousal/activation and vigilance during the period preceding the shot, in comparison with the performance-based method.

Design:

Longitudinal assessment of psycho-physiological data and performance outcomes was conducted on eight elite pistol shooters in a controlled setting.

Methods:

Each participant performed 60 air-pistol shots in 2 sessions. Skin conductance level and cardiac activity were recorded. Affective states intensity was evaluated on a modified 11-point Borg scale. Affect, HR and SC level were evaluated with a Performance-based approach and a Probabilistic method, and results compared at an individual level.

Results:

Findings showed the higher effectiveness of the probabilistic method to analyse physiological parameters (skin conductance and heart rate) and to describe the physiological mechanisms associated with shooters’ performance.

Conclusions:

The probabilistic method better discerned the contribution of arousal/activation and vigilance to optimal and non-optimal performance in elite shooters, thereby providing a sharper representation of the temporal pattern of performers' states before shooting. From an applied perspective, we believe that the probabilistic approach can help athletes become aware of the subtle variations occurring in their psychophysical states during the preparatory period preceding the shot and not only at the moment of shot release.

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