Automated observation: heart rate variability and its relationship with performance-related psychological variables in young swimmers

Jesús M. Ortigosa-Márquez, Rafael E. Reigal, Mariona Portell, Verónica Morales-Sánchez, Antonio Hernández-Mendo


Correct interpretation of performance markers from a psychophysiological perspective is important in young developing athletes. This study had two objectives. The first was to analyze the relationship between heart rate variability (HRV) and the psychological variables sleep quality, self-esteem, and mood states in young swimmers from a professional swimming club. The second was to study the relationship between performance and HRV and psychological determinants. The sample was composed of nine swimmers (11.7±1.4 years) base on purposive sampling method. Data were collected once a week during training sessions for 3 weeks. The statistical analysis showed that anxiety was negatively correlated with the high frequency component of HRV (Ln HF) and positively correlated with the very low frequency component (Ln LVF). No significant correlations were observed for self-esteem or sleep quality. Performance in a 200-m freestyle event was negatively correlated with the parasympathetic HRV indices. Our results suggest that HRV could be a valid tool for predicting performance and improving interpretation of psychometric tests.


sleep quality; mood states; self-esteem; performance.

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