Boosting sports performance with the PIP
The use of EDA (electrodermal activity) or "sweat response" - previously called galvanic skin response (GSR), has a long history of use in psychology and in sport. With the arrival of the PIP biofeedback device the possibilities for sport application have grown significantly.
Early researchers, as long as 60 years ago, explored the use of EDA to study the pre-competition emotions of athletes. In the 1970's the EDA was used to observe tennis players prior to serving to understand the range of values associated with having a better serve. In studies with cricketers on the field, higher levels were noted in their precompetitive state compared with those substitutes waiting on the bench before competition.
Higher sweat responses relate to stress activation of the sympathetic nervous system (measured in microSiemens) but in actual fact there is no "normal" baseline level of these values. The EDA is signficantly affected by skin thickness, heredity and many other factors so each person must act as their own baseline.
EDA measurements can be extremely useful in identifying athletes (or our own) response to stressors of all kinds and of course it is equally important to be able to evaluate recovery to a baseline level. In the sports arena the types of things likely to trigger a stress response include anticipation of a key game, coming back after injury, team dynamics or reflecting on poor past performances.
Athletes who have a tendency to evaluate or judge their own performance critically long after an event is over typically do not return to their baseline stress values because they are emotionally re-living their performance. One of the practical uses of EDA recording is to ask the athlete about their training or last performance. When the athlete "re-lives" the emotion of the performance in a negative way the EDA response will be clearly elevated and if working with a coach the athlete can be probed for the reasons.
Once upon a time measuring the EDA was not easy nor accurate. Advances in technology now have made EDA measurement more reliable and within the reach of many. The PIP device links with bluetooth to your smartphone or tablet and can store the EDA data to a secure cloud based server. Beyond simply recording values, the PIP comes with some engaging games or feedback modalities that enable the PIP as a powerful biofeedback device. A device like the PIP provides a vital window into our physiology and psychology - knowing how we as individuals respond to stress is the first step toward peak performance.
Imagine the athlete who negatively relives her previous performance - by using the PIP she can instantly see the body's stress response at work and she can learn to "park" her emotions. At the same time she can practice and gain strategies that help with future performance. It's simple but effective.