Understanding how our emotions can influence performance: latest research by Dr. Itzik Zur
Dr. Itzik Zur has established himself as a performance expert and has worked extensively with soccer teams, fencers, and martial arts athletes for the past nine years. Most recently, Itzik has been researching how a fencer’s mental state can influence his or her performance. More specifically, he is exploring how a fencer’s mental state affects his or her response time, accuracy, power, and muscle engagement while attacking a target. The athlete produces an actual fencing attack on a target and Itzik measures the athlete’s muscle tension, stress level, accuracy, and response time to understand changes in performance in different states. Itzik is a pioneer in the sports performance field as he uses a combination of real-life simulation and individualized biofeedback results to understand how an athlete performs in different mental states.
Thus far, Itzik has found that for elite fencers, anger is correlated with poor performance and that, in general, anger is associated with lower accuracy. However, anger also seems to be connected to great force during the attack.
Itzik has already begun to use his technique with athletes to boost their performance. As his results have shown, different mental states can improve or impair an athlete’s performance. Itzik helps athletes increase their awareness of when they are at their best by measuring performance outcomes in different mental states. After the data is collected and analyzed, Itzik can determine a personalized ideal mindset for the athlete. From there, Itzik designs a particular intervention for athletes to regulate their emotions and learn how to put themselves in that state during competition. More specifically, athletes can learn how to control their muscles better, improve response time under stressful conditions, and have a plan to counter pre-competition anxiety.