Sport neuropsychology and biofeeback interventions for optimizing performance in elite soccer players
Twenty professional soccer players (N=20) in the Italian soccer first league - Serie A - were randomly divided into 2 equal groups: Experimental group (Group 1) and Control group (Group 2). Both groups received the same physical and tactical conditioning as the weekly program. Ten players (experimental group) received integrative training based on a specific autonomic-biofeedback protocol to improve central and peripheral efficiency of the nervous system. Pre- and post- assessment were conducted with a psychophysiological assessment and a cognitive task (visual search task) to measure the improvements. This dissertation reviews evidence in support of the notion that heart rate variability are associated with individual differences in cognitive performance: heart rate variability might serve as a peripheral index of the integrity of central nervous system networks that support goal-directed behavior. It is examined evidence about the relationship between higher levels of resting heart rate variability and superior performance on cognitive tasks. By providing a common neural basis for these diverse functions, the neurovisceral integration model may serve as a unifying framework within which to examine associations among these various self-regulatory and adaptability processes. The results showed that is possible to improve through this evidence-based mental training approach based on the autonomic nervous system biofeedback central abilities as visual searching and stress control in professional soccer players.