My heart is racing! Psychophysiological dynamics of skilled racecar drivers

Filho, Edson orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-8548-4651, Di Fronso, Selenia, Mazzoni, Caterina, Robazza, Claudio, Bortoli, Laura and Bertollo, Maurizio (2015) My heart is racing! Psychophysiological dynamics of skilled racecar drivers. Journal of Sports Sciences, 33 (9). pp. 945-959. ISSN 0264-0414

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Our purpose was to test the multi-action plan (MAP) model assumptions in which athletes’ psychophysiological patterns differ among optimal and suboptimal performance experiences. Nine professional drivers competing in premier race categories (e.g., Formula 3, Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge) completed the study. Data collection involved monitoring the drivers’ perceived hedonic tone, accuracy on core components of action, posture, skin temperature, respiration rate, and heart rate responses during a 40-lap simulated race. Time marks, gathered at three standardized sectors, served as the performance variable. The A1GP racing simulator (Allinsport, Modena) established a realistic race platform. Specifically, the Barcelona track was chosen due to its inherently difficult nature characterized by intermittent deceleration points. Idiosyncratic analyses showed large individual differences in the drivers’ psychophysiological profile, as well as distinct patterns in regards to optimal and suboptimal performance experiences. Limitations and future research avenues are discussed. Action (e.g., attentional control) and emotion (e.g., biofeedback training) centered applied sport psychology implications are advanced.

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