Sport: the benefits of sophrology scientifically validated

The breathing and mental visualization techniques used in sophrology significantly improve the performance of athletes. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by Ford on the effectiveness of mental preparation techniques offered to athletes.

The car manufacturer Ford was interested in the sporting performance of athletes and particularly in the benefits provided by mental preparation . He therefore carried out a study aimed at measuring the contribution of the different techniques used such as breathing or mental visualization techniques.

To achieve this, the scientists set up two distinct groups:

  • the first group comprised of Ford racing drivers, including World Touring Car Driver Andy Priaulx and World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier.
  • the second group composed of ordinary people.

Then, they subjected these two groups to two classic mental training exercises:

  • the first exercise consisted of getting the participants to relax, then performing a series of controlled breathing exercises identical to sophrology exercises . Finally, participants were asked to hold their breath for as long as possible. The process was repeated several times and then followed by a long recovery period.
  • the second consisted of carrying out a visualization exercise , again identical to those practiced in sophrology, the objective being to get the athletes to mentally project themselves into their victory in order to prepare themselves and maintain confidence in their performance. This voice-guided visualization exercise led participants to create mental images by describing the turns, curves and key visual signals of the circuit.

Convincing results

The study reveals, firstly, that racing drivers whose brains are particularly trained have a 40% better level of attention and concentration compared to other participants. Their minds have in fact been regularly “muscled” which allows them to react to subtle sensory signals, without always being aware of them.

But where the study turns out to be very interesting is when we look at the differences in performance between ordinary mentally prepared people and a group of average people who did not benefit from any preparation technique:

“The interesting thing we discovered is that when normal people perform simple mental exercises, they are also able to achieve a higher level of performance ,” explains Dr. Elias Mouchlianitis of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience of the King's College London.

According to the results of this study, a simple 10-minute mental preparation could significantly improve attention and, with it, performance.

“Simple breathing exercises and meditation, plus a visualization technique that uses key words to describe the task ahead, have seen normal drivers increase their concentration and performance by up to 50% ,” emphasizes the scientist.

The researchers wish, through this study, to understand and measure the impact of these simple exercises on sports performance, in order to transfer this knowledge on focusing on high performance in everyday life. They believe, in fact, that these techniques can be used outside of the sporting field because it allows you to mentally prepare for the task ahead, improve your performance and reduce your stress level.

In sophrology, mental preparation techniques have always been used in very different areas such as professional performance , preparation for exams or even childbirth . And the results are there: increased level of attention, improved self-confidence and better management of stress (and emotions). The essentials to experience the event in the best conditions and harness all your potential.

Source: sophro-resilience.com