Level of Sports Arousal Needed to be an Effective Hitter

June 29, 2010 / By: Samantha Rudesill

Sports arousal level is measured by the activation within the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS consists if nerves that connect the heart, blood vessels and glands. The more activation there is within the ANS, the higher level of sports arousal. The purpose of this study was to determine if low or high level of sports arousal, while hitting a softball, influences hitting performance.  Ten University of St. Thomas softball team players (age=20 yr. ± 1.15, ht= 169.1cm ±7.92, wt=66.16 kg ± 7.52, experience10.6 yrs. ± 1.71) volunteered to participate in this study.  Initial respiratory rate was measure manually by counting respirations for fifteen seconds then multiplying that by four, to get respirations per minute. Heart rate was measured by using a Polar FS1 heart rate monitor and skin temperature measurements were taken using a GSR/Temp2x machine. Subjects then hit 20 softballs off a tee using a drill called long tee hitting.  During this drill, the ball must travel 50 feet and hit a target on the fly.  The drill simulates the distance needed to achieve a hit on the playing field. During stage two subjects listened to a metronome, from www.webmetronome.com, for three minutes to keep their respiratory rate to half their initial respiratory rate.  Heart rate, skin temperature and hits were recorded after the three minutes.  During stage three the metronome was set to three times the initial breathing rate.  All measurements were taken after three minutes of breathing.  Statistical analysis was done using Minitab15. Strong negative correlations were found for the relaxed breathing stage between hits and respirations and hits and heart rate, indicating as respirations and heart rate went down, hits went up.  A strong positive correlation between skin temperature and hits during the rapid breathing stage indicates that as skin temperature lowered, number of hits dropped.  Results suggest that it is effective as a hitter to have a low sports arousal.  A slow deep respiration rate before hitting will contribute to achieving low sports arousal level.