Skip to main content

Pre-performance Physiological State: Heart Rate Variability as a Predictor of Shooting Performance

Abstract

Heart rate variability (HRV) is commonly used in sport science for monitoring the physiology of athletes but not as an indicator of physiological state from a psychological perspective. Since HRV is established to be an indicator of emotional responding, it could be an objective means of quantifying an athlete’s subjective physiological state before competition. A total of 61 sport shooters participated in this study, of which 21 were novice shooters, 19 were intermediate shooters, and 21 were advanced level shooters. HRV, self-efficacy, and use of mental skills were assessed before they completed a standard shooting performance task of 40 shots, as in a competition qualifying round. The results showed that HRV was significantly positively correlated with self-efficacy and performance and was a significant predictor of shooting performance. In addition, advanced shooters were found to have significantly lower average heart rate before shooting and used more self-talk, relaxation, imagery, and automaticity compared to novice and intermediate shooters. HRV was found to be useful in identifying the physiological state of an athlete before competing, and as such, coaches and athletes can adopt practical strategies to improve the pre-performance physiological state as a means to optimize performance.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

References

  1. Antelmi, I., De Paula, R. S., Shinzato, A. R., Pres, C. A., Mansur, A. J., & Grupi, C. J. (2004). Influence of age, gender, body mass index, and functional capacity on heart rate variability in a cohort of subjects without heart disease. American Journal of Cardiology, 93, 381–385.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Appelhans, B. M., & Luecken, L. J. (2006). Heart rate variability as an index of regulated emotional responding. Review of General Psychology, 10(3), 229–240.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Aubert, A. E., Seps, B., & Beckers, F. (2003). Heart rate variability in athletes. Sports Medicine, 33(12), 889–919.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Towards a unifying theory of behaviour change. Psychological Review, 89, 191–215.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewoods Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Barling, J., & Abel, M. (1983). Self-efficacy beliefs and tennis performance. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 7, 265–272.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Barr, K., & Hall, C. (1992). The use of imagery by rowers. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 23(3), 243–261.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Bellamy, M., Collins, D., Homes, P., & Loze, G. (1999). Shot patterns in ECG recordings for elite air pistol shooters. Journal of Sports Sciences, Conference Communications, 17, 48–49.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Bessel, J., & Gervitz, R. (1997). Effects of breathing retraining versus cognitive techniques on cognitive and somatic components of state anxiety and on performance of female gymnastics. Paper presented at The International Society for the Advancement of Respiratory Psychophysiology, Cape Cod, MA.

  10. Boutcher, S. H., & Crews, D. J. (1987). The effect of a preshot attentional routine on a well-learned skill. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 18, 30–39.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Cartoni, A. C., Minganti, C., & Zelli, A. (2005). Gender, age, and professional-level differences in the psychological correlates of fear of injury in Italian gymnasts. Journal of Sport Behavior, 28, 3–17.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Causer, J., Holmes, P. S., & Smith, N. C. (2011). Anxiety, movement kinematics, and visual attention in elite-level performers. Emotion, 11(3), 595–602.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Cumming, J., & Hall, C. (2002). Athletes’ use of imagery in the off-season. The Sport Psychologist, 16, 160–172.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. D’Ascenzi, F., Alvino, F., Natali, B. M., Cameli, M., Palmitesta, P., Boschetti, G., Bonifazi, M., & Mondillo, S. (2014). Precompetitive assessment of heart rate variability in elite female athletes during play offs. Clinical Physiology and Functioning Imaging, 34(3), 230–236.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Daroglou, G. (2011). Coping skills and self-efficacy as predictors of gymnastics performance. The Sport Journal, 14(1), 1–8.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Eccles, J. S., & Harold, R. D. (1991). Gender differences in sport involvement: Applying the Eccles’ expectancy-value model. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 3, 7–35.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Esco, M. R., & Flatt, A. A. (2014). Ultra-short-term heart rate variability indexes at rest and post-exercise in athletes: Evaluating the agreement with accepted recommendations. Journal of Sports Science & Medicine, 13(3), 535–541.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Feltz, D., & Mugno, D. (1983). A replication of the path analysis of the causal elements in Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy and the influence of autonomic perception. Journal of Sport Psychology, 5, 263–277.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Feltz, D. L. (1988). Gender differences in the causal elements of self-efficacy on a high avoidance motor task. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 10, 151–166.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Feltz, D. L., Chow, G. M., & Hepler, T., J (2008). Path analysis of self-efficacy and diving performance revisited. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 30, 401–411.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Feltz, D. L., & Lirgg, C. D. (1998). Perceived team and player efficacy in hockey. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 557–564.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Flatt, A. A., & Esco, M. R. (2013). Validity of the ithlete™ smart phone application for determining ultra-short-term heart rate variability. Journal of Human Kinetics, 39, 85–92.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  23. Friedman, B. H. (2007). An autonomic flexibility-neurovisceral integration model of anxiety and cardiac vagal tone. Biological Psychology, 74(2), 185–199.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  24. Garet, M., Tournaire, N., Roche, F., Laurent, R., Lacour, J. R., Bathelemy, J. C., & Pichot, J. (2004). Individual interdependence between nocturnal ANS activity and performance in swimmers. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 36(12), 2112–2118.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Godin, G., & Sheppard, R. J. (1985). Gender differences in perceived physical self-efficacy among older individuals. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 60, 599–602.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Goodie, J. L., Larkin, K. T., & Schauss, S. (2000). Validation of the Polar heart rate monitor for assessing heart rate during physical and mental stress. Journal of Psychophysiology, 14, 159–164.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Hall, C. R., Rodgers, W. M., & Barr, K. A. (1990). The use of imagery by athletes in selected sports. The Sport Psychologist, 4, 1–10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Haney, C. J., & Long, B. C. (1995). Coping effectiveness: A path analysis of self-efficacy, control, coping, and performance in sport competitions. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 25, 1726–1746.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Henlin, P., Sihvonen, T., & Hanninen, O. (1987). Timing of the triggering action of shooting in relation to the cardiac cycle. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 21, 33–36.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Hatfield, B. D., Haufler, A., Hung, T-M., & Spalding, T. W. (2004). Electroencephalographic studies of skilled psychomotor performance. Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology, 21(3), 144–156.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. International Sport Shooting Federation (2016). Official Statutes Rules and Regulations.

  32. Jackson, R. C., & Baker, J. S. (2001). Routines, rituals, and rugby: Case study of a world-class goal kicker. The Sport Psychologist, 15, 48–65.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Kane, T. D., Marks, M. A., Zaccaro, S. J., & Blair, V. (1996). Self-efficacy, personal goals, and wrestlers’ self-regulation. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 18, 36–48.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Koehn, S., Morris, T., & Watt, A. P. (2013). Correlates of dispositional and state flow in tennis competition. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 25(3), 354–369.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Konttinen, N., Lyyteinen, H., & Viitasalo, J. (1998). Rifle-balancing in precision-shooting: Behavioural aspects and psychophysiological implication. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, 8(2), 78–83.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Lacey, B. C., & Lacey, J. L. (1974). Studies of heart rate and other bodily processes in sensorimotor behavior. In P. A. Obrist, A. H. Black, J. Brener & L. V. DiCara (Eds.), Cardiovascular psychophysiology: Current issues in response mechanisms, biofeedback and methodology (pp. 538–564). New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine Transaction.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Lacey, J. L. (1967). Somatic response patterning and stress: Some revisions of activation theory. In M. H. Apply & R. Turnbull (Eds.), Psychological stress: Issues in research. New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Lacey, J. L., & Lacey, B. C. (1970). Some autonomic-central nervous system interrelationships. In P. Black (Ed.), Physiological correlates of emotion (pp. 205–228). New York: Academic Press.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Lagos, L., Vaschillo, E., Vaschillo, B., Lehrer, P., Bates, M., & Pandina, R. (2008). Heart rate variability biofeedback for dealing with competitive anxiety: A case study. Biofeedback, 36(3), 109–155.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Lane, A. M., Thelwell, R. C., Lowther, J., & Devonport, T. J. (2009). Emotional intelligence and psychological skills use among athletes. Social Behavior and Personality, 37(2), 195–202.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Lee, C. (1982). Self-efficacy as a predictor of performance in competitive gymnastics. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 78, 955–962.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Lehrer, P. M., & Gevirtz, R. (2014). Heart rate variability biofeedback: How and why does it work? Frontiers in Psychology, 5(756), 1–9.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Lehrer, P. M., Vaschillo, E., Vaschillo, B., Lu, S.-E., Eckberg, D. L., Edelberg, R., Shih, W. J., Kuusela, T. A., Tahvanainen, K. U. O., & Hamer, R. M. (2003). Heart rate variability biofeedback increases baroreflex gain and peak expiratory flow. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65, 796–805.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  44. Lin, I. M., Tai, L. Y., & Fan, S. Y. (2014). Breathing at a rate of 5.5 breaths per minute with equal inhalation-to-exhalation ratio increases heart rate variability. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 91(3), 206–211.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  45. Maman, P., & Garg, K. (2012). The effect of heart rate variability biofeedback on performance psychology of basketball players. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 37, 131–144.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Mandell, R. A. (1994). The influence of role status, self-efficacy and soccer performance (Master’s thesis). Microform Publication, International Institute for Sport and Human Performance. University of Oregon, Eugene.

  47. McCraty, R. M., & Shaffer, F. (2015). Heart rate variability: New perspectives on physiological mechanisms, assessment of self-regulatory capacity, and health risk. Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 4(1), 46–61.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  48. McNames, J., & Aboy, M. (2006). Reliability and accuracy of heart rate variability metrics versus ECG segment duration. Medical & Biological Engineering & Computing, 44, 747–756.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Mellalieu, S. D., Neil, R., Hanton, S., & Fletcher, D. (2009). Competition stress in sport performers: Stressors experienced in the competition environment. Journal of Sport Science, 27(7), 729–744.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Mets, T., Konttinen, N., & Lyytinen, H. (2007). Shot placement within the cardiac cycle in junior elite rifle shooters. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 8, 169–177.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. Morales, J. M., Garcia, V., Garcia-Masso, X., Salva, P., Escobar, R., & Buscar, B. (2013). The use of heart rate variability in assessing precompetitive stress in high-standard judo athletes. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 34, 144–151.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  52. Moritz, S. E., Feltz, D. L., Fahrbach, K. R., & Mack, D. E. (2000). The relation of self-efficacy measures to sport performance: A meta-analytic review. Research Quarterly in Exercise and Sport, 71(3), 280–294.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Myers, N. D., Payment, C., & Feltz, D. L. (2004). Reciprocal relationships between collective efficacy and team performance in women’s ice hockey. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 8, 182–195.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Nussinovitch, U., Elishkevitz, K. P., Nussinovitch, M., Segev, S., Volovitz, B., & Nussinovitch, N. (2011). Reliability of ultra-short ECG indices for heart rate variability. Annals of Noninvasive Electrocardiology, 16(2), 117–122.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  55. Ortega, E. (2017). Examining the effects of self-efficacy, physiological states, and mental skills on sport performance (Doctoral dissertation). National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

  56. Peira, N., Fredrikson, M., & Pourtois, G. (2014). Controlling the emotional heart: Heart rate biofeedback improves cardiac control during emotional reactions. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 91(3), 225–231.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  57. Plews, D. J., Laursen, P. B., Stanley, J., Kilding, A. E., & Buchheit, M. (2013). Training adaptation and heart rate variability in elite endurance athletes: Opening the door to effective monitoring. Sports Medicine, 43, 773–781.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  58. Podstawski, R., Boraczynski, M., Nowosielska-Swadzba, D., & Zwolinska, D. (2014). Heart rate variability during pre-competition and competition periods in volleyball players. Biomedical Human Kinetics, 6, 19–26.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Porges, S. W. (2009). The polyvagal theory: New insights into adaptive reactions of the autonomic nervous system. Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, 76(2), S86-S90.

    PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  60. Salahuddin, L., & Kim, D. (2007). Ultra-short term analysis of heart rate variability using normal sinus rhythm and atrial fibrillation ECG data. Conference Paper, 9th International Conference on e-Health Networking.

  61. Salmon, J., Hall, C., & Haslam, I. (1994). The use of imagery by soccer players. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, 6(1), 116–133.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Schmidt, R. A., & Wrisberg, C. A. (2008). Motor learning and performance: A situation-based learning approach (4th ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

    Google Scholar 

  63. Schwarzer, R., Babler, J., Kwiatek, P., Schroder, K., & Zhang, J. X. (1996). The assessment of optimistic self-beliefs: Comparison of the German, Spanish, and Chinese versions of the General Self-Efficacy scale. Applied Psychology, 46(1), 69–88.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  64. Shaw, L., Zaichowsky, L., & Wilson, V. (2012). Setting the balance: Using biofeedback and neurofeedback with gymnasts. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology, 6, 47–66.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Singapore Schools Sports Council (2016). Shooting National. Retrieved from http://www.sssc.sg/games/shooting/national/.

  66. Singapore Shooting Association (2016). National Training Team (NTT) as of 2 February 2016. Retrieved from http://singaporeshooting.org/portal/hi-performance-2/pistol-rifle/squads/.

  67. Singer, R. N. (2002). Preperformance state, routines, and automaticity: What does it take to realise expertise in self-paced events? Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 24, 359–375.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Sitzmann, T., & Yeo, G. (2013). A meta-analytic investigation of the within-person self-efficacy domain: Is self-efficacy a product of past performance or a driver of future performance? Personnel Psychology, 66, 531–568.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. SIUS. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.sius.com/en/02_Ueberuns_main.html.

  70. Strack, B. W. (2003). Effect of heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback training on batting performance in baseball. (Doctoral Dissertation, Alliant International University, San Diego, 2003). Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 64, 1540.

  71. Strack, B. W. (2011). Biofeedback and neurofeedback applications in sport psychology: Introduction. In B. W. Strack, M. K. Linden & V. S. Wilson (Eds.), Biofeedback and neurofeedback applications in sport psychology. Wheat Ridge, CO: Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback.

    Google Scholar 

  72. Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2013). Using multivariate statistics (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn & Bacon.

    Google Scholar 

  73. Task Force of the European Society of Cardiology and the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology (1996). Heart rate variability: Standards of measurement, physiological interpretation, and clinical use. European Heart Journal, 17, 354–381.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Thayer, J. F., Ahs, F., Fredrikson, M., Sollers III, J. J., & Wager, T. D. (2012). A meta-analysis of heart rate variability and neuroimaging studies: Implications for heart rate variability as a marker of stress and health. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 36, 747–756.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  75. Thomas, P. R., Murphy, S. M., & Hardy, L. (1999). Test of performance strategies: Development and preliminary validation of a comprehensive measure of athletes’ psychological skills. Journal of Sports Sciences, 17(9), 697–711.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  76. Thong, T., Li, K., McNames, J., Aboy, M., & Goldstein, B. (2003). Accuracy of ultra-short heart rate variability measures. Proceedings of the 25th Annual International Conference of the IEEE, 3, 2424–2427.

    Google Scholar 

  77. Valiante, G., & Morris, D. B. (2013). The sources and maintenance of professional golfers’ self-efficacy beliefs. The Sport Psychologist, 27(2), 130–142.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Weigand, D. A., & Stockham, K. J. (2000). The importance of analyzing position-specific self-efficacy. Journal of Sport Behavior, 23(1), 61–69.

    Google Scholar 

  79. Weiss, M. R., Wiese, D. M., & Klint, K. A. (1989). Head over heels with success: The relationship between self-efficacy and performance in competitive youth gymnastics. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 11, 444–451.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Wheat, A. L., & Larkin, K. T. (2010). Biofeedback of heart rate variability and related physiology: A critical review. Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, 35, 229–242.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  81. Wright, B. J., O’Halloran, P. D., & Stukas, A. A. (2016). Enhancing self-efficacy and performance: An experimental comparison of psychological techniques. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 87(1), 36–46.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  82. Wuertle, S. K. (1986). Self-efficacy and athletic performance: A review. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 4, 290–301.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to E. Ortega.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ortega, E., Wang, C.J.K. Pre-performance Physiological State: Heart Rate Variability as a Predictor of Shooting Performance. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback 43, 75–85 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10484-017-9386-9

Download citation

Keywords

  • Heart rate variability
  • Pre-performance
  • Physiological state
  • Self-efficacy
  • Shooting