TOKYO (Dispatches) --
Latest research shows that even the best professional athletes are negatively influenced by psychological stress, even though they are generally well trained to cope with pressure.
According to an analysis of archers’ biometric data during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by Yunfeng Lu (Nanjing University) and Songfa Zhong (National University of Singapore, New York University Abu Dhabi) in Psychological Science, focused on within-gender individual competitions for which heart-rate data were available. During these competitions, the heart rates of 122 male and female archers were broadcast as they took 2,247 shots. The World Archery Federation, in collaboration with Panasonic, measured athletes’ heart rates using high-frame-rate cameras that are designed to detect skin reflectance and can determine a person’s heart rate 96% as accurately as a pulse oximeter or electrocardiogram.
They discovered that athletes whose heart rates were higher before taking a shot consistently scored lower on those shots. While archers’ age and gender were not found to significantly influence the relationship between stress and performance, a number of factors related to the nature of the competition did.
Increased heart rate was more likely to reduce the performance of lower-ranking archers and of all archers who shot second in a match or who had a lower score than their opponent at that point in the match. There was also a stronger relationship between stress and performance closer to the end of each match, possibly due to the increase in pressure as athletes progressed in the competition, the authors wrote.