Performance and Flotation-REST in Tests of Marksmanship, Problem-solving and Perceived Exertion

Abstract: This present thesis examines whether or not relaxation as floating may be exploited to reinforce primary process (inner-directed) orientation, and thereby enhance performance, creative problem-solving ability and originality. Two Articles are presented both using randomized factorial design. Article I include two subexperiments. In the first experiment two groups of students were presented a task of problem-solving. After a short time the groups were interrupted. One group used floating (Flotation-REST) while the other group was assigned to armchair reading (non-REST). Both groups resumed to the problem-solving task. The subjects in the floating group used more test time (latency) than the armchair group. Short test time latency is related to greater heart rate variability. In the second experiment, three groups were assigned to either Flotation-REST or non-REST or resting in a bed (dry-REST). The three groups were then presented a task of creative problem-solving. Subjects in Flotation-REST scored higher on originality compared to the other two groups. Article II studies marksmen during two measurement occasions of competitive archery, with a 6-week interval. There were unknowingly ranked by the coaches and randomized in two groups. During the first event one group was assigned to Flotation-REST between two salvo series of archery competition. The other group was instead assigned to armchair reading (non-REST). During the second event the assignments were reversed. The outcome measures in both events were Ratings of Perceived Exertion (RPE), performance in archery and scores of Electromyogram analysis (EMG). Independent of Flotation-REST or non-REST conditions the most proficient archers (the elite) distinguished themselves from two lower ranked groups by significant lower scoring on the RPE scale. After Flotation-REST, the elite archers performed more consistently and the least and most proficient archers had lower muscle tension in the Extensor Digitorum. Conclusions: The findings of the first article suggest that floating may inhibit ‘cognitive shift’ and at the same time promote primary process thinking. The findings of the second article suggest that performance at micro levels may express the difference between top athletes and average performers, hence demonstrating the central role of performance in sports.

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