Sunday, February 6, 2022

Managing Responses

I enjoy watching golf tournaments with my kids, and WHOOP sponsors a new fun feature.  WHOOP is a  wearable that monitors certain health data.  The focus is on physical strain and recovery.  Users start an activity, and the band tracks heart rate along with other data.  The fun part is some golfers allow the TV broadcast to show their whoop data before certain shots.  Viewers can see in real time what Rory McIlory's heart rate is walking up the fairway to win.  The astonishing thing I see is many players hearts either maintain or even slow during pre-shot routines immediately preceding the shot.  They maintain calmness, and then their heart races watching the result.  Justin Thomas' heart rate skyrocketed watching an eagle putt drop and when one of his tee shots came too close to the water.  However, his heart rate slowed during his pre-shot routine, which is when I am most nervous hitting a golf shot.

The best in the world create a routine to stabilize their body in important moments.  All of us can do the same thing.  As faculty, we can create routines immediately prior to class to optimize our teaching effectiveness.  Their heart rates during golf are higher than regular activity, but they stabilize and drop them during the most important moments.  That provides the physical and mental clarity to do their best.  Our activities may not seem as physical as sports, but we need mental clarity to create the best educational environment.  Techniques to stabilize heart rates for performance can help our teaching.

Stabilizing heart rates can have massive impacts for students taking exams.  The last minute studying 5 minutes before the exam starts with the anxiety of a single test contributing the majority of the points to final grades would cause anyone's heart to race.  Professionals find a way in the stressful environments (with shots worth millions of dollars) to stabilize heart rates.  Many strategies exist to help any of us during these situations.  Here are a few I heard about:

1.  Lemon Squeeze - Ball up the hands to control blood flow.  Some people feel more in control thinking they are controlling blood flow.

2.  Imagining a non-distracting place - Picture having fun in a place that is not the current situation.

3.  Deep breaths from the diaphragm.

I am not a specialist in controlling my heart rate, but these techniques were recommended to me when I feel my heart racing.  I recommend reading and asking specialists about different ways to maximize our performance in teaching and on exams.

(Steven Foster)

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/academic_support/2022/02/managing-responses.html

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