Today I got to attend a lecture from Dr. Lee, a sports scientist. Luckily, we ended up eating lunch together after the lecture and I was able to extend my barrage of questions. I was fascinated by research conducted by Lee on brain wave patterns measured in elite, struggling elite, novice and beginner archers.
Two types of brain waves were of particular interest: attention waves and meditation waves. Attention wave patterns indicate just exactly “how focused” an archer is throughout the shot (A slightly tense feeling). Meditation waves show how relaxed or peaceful the archer is throughout the shot. Archers that maintain and increasing level of focus throughout the shot might have an attention brain wave line that climbs from left to right on a graph at a 30° angle, for example. Someone who struggles to keep focus over a period of time will creat a meditation wave pattern that is up, then down, then up some more, then flat, then down….it won’t be consistent. Archers who steadily get more relaxedat throughout the shot will have a line graph that slopes upward from left to right. Those who are feeling tense will have a meditation line that slopes down.
Here is the cool part. Imagine someone shooting a bow that can maintain a positively trending attention brain wave line and a positively trending meditation wave line. Usually the inverse would happen, right? That is, usually, the more “hard” focus someone does the more tense they might feel and this would lead to a negatively trending meditation line and a positively trending attention line. Back to thhe example: imagine someone with positively trending attention and meditation lines. that means that as they focus harder on what they are doing the more relaxed they get. This is ideal! As the archer is in holding and aiming you want to be relaxed but focused hard (which is slightly tensing). Why would that happen?
Flow. When the level of challenge meets the level of skill of an individual, we call that the flow state. There is an optimal level of arousal of someone in flow, they are neither bored or anxious. In this state an archer who has trained their mind can have the highest level of focus possible WHILE finding peace and relaxation. So cool! I loved looking at the data he provided and making the connections.
Now as this gets super cool: picture a pair of pretend cat ears made of fabric and over-sized and stuck onto a plastic headband. Now imagine that the ears are actually activated into movement mechanically based on brainwave activity of the attention waves in the brain. An archer could wear the device and, if they were at good focus the ears would stand up. If at bad focus they would droop. Well, they exist! Check out the video I took of these mechanical brainwave reading ears. This is at the Chula Vista OTC. What a fun way to train focus and attention. Definitely trying to get a pair of these for the range at AAA, Dr. lee designed these. I took a video so you can get an idea.
Oh, and here is a pic of the Olympic bmx track….sort of like brain waves.
Archers to the line.