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The Effects of Heart Rhythm Variability Biofeedback with Emotional Regulation on the Athletic Performance of Women Collegiate Volleyball Players

Cynthia J. Tanis

Ph.D. Dissertation, Capella University, 2008.

For a PDF version of the complete paper, click here.

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to investigate the effects of heart rhythm variability (HRV) biofeedback training with emotional regulation on the athletic performance of women collegiate volleyball players. The participant’s ability to self-regulate and her perception of the intervention were also examined. Individual biofeedback training using the emWave® PC/Mac (1.0) was provided to 13 student-athletes during six weekly sessions. A portable biofeedback device known as the emWave® PSR was available for independent self-regulation rehearsal. The research was a quasi-experimental, repeatedmeasure, mixed-methodology, within-subject design. The quantitative results supported the hypothesis that the team and its 13 participants self-regulated at will. The results did not support the hypothesis that the intervention improved performance. One possibility for this finding was the presence of a statistical and performance ceiling effect. The qualitative results revealed a positive perception of the intervention relating to the participants’ roles as students, athletes, and team members. Numerous themes emerged from the interviews reflecting the benefits of the intervention. (a) Learning about biofeedback and self-regulation while visualizing the heart rhythm on the computer screen. (b) Improving self-awareness and increasing self-control. (c) Reducing the effects of physical and mental stress relating to academic and athletic rigors. (d) Experiencing enhanced physical and mental states improving academic and athletic performance. (e) Improving team composure and camaraderie. Although further research is warranted, the results of this innovative intervention demonstrate the potential to enhance academic and athletic performance in collegiate sport.