What often separates good athletes from great athletes is the ability to maintain physical and mental composure.  It is understood that in order for athletes to perform to their potential consistently they must learn to optimally self-regulate their psychological and physiological states. Yet, the process by which this is accomplished is not well understood.

Two recent studies examined 20 Olympic athletes and findings reveled that there was a significant correlation between the athletes’ overall self-regulation ability and their ranking at the world level, meaning the better the overall self-regulation ability of the athlete the better the world ranking.

Study results also found the following tips on how athletes perceive they learned to self-regulate:

  • engaging in active learning exercises,
  • receiving real-time formative feedback, and
  • utilization of the intervention exercises in training and competition environments were how athletes perceived they learned to self-regulate.

Together, the two findings from the two studies highlight the relevance and intricacies of self-regulation in high performance sports

Overall, the authors recommend that self-regulation techniques be taught to athletes at all levels of competitive sport in order to help them reach their full potential. The authors also suggest that determining an athlete’s stress patterns and developing an individualized self-regulation training program would be important.

Full text of the article, “A Preliminary Study on the Relationship Between Athletes’ Ability to Self-Regulate and World Ranking,” Biofeedback, Vol. 43, No. 2, 2015, is now available at


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