Top athletes´ mental load studied by a physiological measurement

Pertti Ratilainen has been a mental trainer for top athletes now for ten years. He guides individuals to reach their goals by utilizing their personal strengths and characteristics. Since the beginning of 2017 he has measured himself with the Moodmetric smart ring to better understand his own cognitive load. The Moodmetric measurement has been his tool to help also his customers now for several months.

Interest in the workings of a sportsman´s mind comes from decades of active life. Ratilainen has been a keen ice hockey player and golfer for most part of his life, and since ten years a coach helping the players with the non-physical side of the training.

His customers include as well people from business life. Managers and experts set their targets high but often need to work under pressure, which compares well to top sports.

Golf coaching benefits from the Moodmetric measurement

Pertti Ratilainen has worked for four years with Anssi Kankkonen as a coach for over 15 year old golf talents at the Kankkonen-Numminen Golf Academy.

Together they find ways to help young players to find their own optimal alertness level, and to understand how it affects their results. They have applied both the Moodmetric continuous measurement and the real time stress level observation during the round.

Ratilainen studies the Moodmetric measurement data together with the young players. The target is to see the connection between previous day and sleep, and the play next day. Also they look at immediate effects, as how one bad strike affects the next.

Golf is a very sensitive sports, where the player´s stress level affects the success of the round. High stress level has a negative impact on fine motor skills and the playing easily suffers. The player needs to learn to recover from a bad strike and to relax and focus for the next. Ratilainen reminds, that there is a long time between the holes that players needs to manage with their own, sometimes disturbing, thoughts.

– We have done tests where the player wears the Moodmetric ring, and I follow close by the real-time stress level on a smart phone screen. I see the rising numbers immediately and can intervene. For instance, if I see numbers getting to the red zone, I take the player aside for a moment and discuss to calm the situation. When the person is relaxed enough, the next shot is significantly better.

Taking the stress level into account

Ratilainen considers the alertness / arousal of an athlete crucial when targeting to success. The Moodmetric measurement gives him the needed tool: it shows the level with a practical index from 0 to 100. Low numbers indicate a calm mind, high figures positive or negative stress. Excitement means being extremely alert, and has an impact on a person just as fear or anxiety.

Personality and individual features of people have always interested Ratilainen. He wants to help his customers to better understand the sources of emotional and cognitive load. – For me, a round of golf in a good company always brings the best results. Being in interaction relaxes me. But there are also players who get very distracted of chatting.

High sensitive persons have become an important customer segment for Ratilainen. They are more easily than others affected by their surroundings and people. As they easily gather cognitive and emotional load, it is a continuous task for them to find ways to recover enough and rest their mind.

Ratilainen also wants to point out the changes in our daily environment: – We are not adapted to sit the whole day instead of physical work. We do not realize  how much mental load we are getting instead of doing heavy bodily work. Before people went bed in the evening and fell asleep immediately because of physical tiredness. Today we do not know when to rest and how, as the strain is more inside our heads.

Taking care of personal mental wellbeing is the platform for success.

-Optimal performance can only be reached with the right amount of stress and continuously managing the total mental load, sums Pertti Ratilainen up.

 

Pertti Ratilainen wore the Moodmetric smartring while playing golf this summer. Below the best and worst round shown by the Moodmetric app, considering his own feeling and the result. The measurement data reflects this well: there needs to be a certain level positive stress, but very high levels destroy the game.

 

If a part of my life is too stressful, should I do something about it?

“I am so stressed”. You hear this often and you probably say that often. Many times we not stop to reflect, why and for what reasons we are so stressed.

When asked to specify, the list is long: the work, the boss, the colleagues, the partner, kids etc. How stressful each of them are is more difficult to point out. After some years of a very hectic life everything becomes a big clump of worry and pressing thoughts.

With the Moodmetric measurement it is easy to pinpoint what factors in life are the most stressful. The stress level is also given on a scale from 0 to 100. Each day and night is presented with an easily readable chart that shows with red and purple color on a clock face when the stress is the highest.

For myself, there is no doubt of the biggest stress factor in my life: my kids, that I love dearly. Leaving in the morning with the usual mess of lost things, being late etc. is easily the worst part of the day. The next and longer one is putting the kids to sleep. I am lucky not to get overly stressed of the work nor most people near me. This is both my personal feeling and what the Moodmetric data tells me.

One big stress factor in life is usually manageable, especially if one sleeps well. Sleep deprivation makes all the negative things look worse and if one feels burdened, that should be the first thing to correct.

For some of our users the Moodmetric measurement shows clearly that the work is the biggest stressor in life. Running the whole workday on a very high alertness level means cumulating stress weeks and months. Combined with small children and for example an elderly parent to look after, the life can get very complicated. Big changes in life cannot be done over night and of course some things we want to keep regardless of how many grey hairs we get.

The Moodmetric ring and combined app are the simplest tool to manage stress using real time physiological data. The wearer can begin to look at the life as whole and choose one stressor at the time to work with. The measurement shows stress and recovery levels also at sleep and while exercising.

Click here for more information on what the Moodmetric ring measures and what the data tells you.

 

Picture: Pixabay

The Moodmetric technology in research

The Moodmetric ring and app are the simplest solution to measure stress and excitement. Take the benefit of the Moodmetric continuous measurement and real-time feedback to support your research.

pic for measurement

The Moodmetric ring is developed to analyze the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, ie. the fight-or-flight reaction. This can be detected through the skin conductance response measurement. It is best done from the palmar skin or fingers, which makes the ring form perfect to obtain accurate data.

Where can the electrodermal activity measurement be applied

This phenomen of electrodermal activity / galvanic skin response has been an input for research for over hundred years. It is used in large extent for instance in
– Psychological research
– Clinical research & psychotherapy
– Media & advertising testing
– Consumer neuroscience & marketing
– Usability testing & UX design

How the Moodmetric ring is used

The Moodmetric ring is a non-intrusive way to measure the electrodermal activity, which enables long term measurement outside a laboratory setting. The ring is worn as a normal ring. It connects to a smartphone app via bluetooth smart and real-time measurement works within 5m radius.
The app shows the electrodermal responses measured by the ring and the output of the signal analysis which is the Moodmetric index (0…100).  In addition, the Moodmetric number among other data, so the ring can be worn without phone connection. The data can be synced any time.
Direct data streaming from the ring to Windows PC is possible with a BLE dongle. This enables also access to EDA raw data.

In addition to EDA sensors, there is a three axis accelerometer inside the Moodmetric ring. This enables for example measuring the step count, that is included in the app.

The measuring and output

Due to the advanced signal analysis methods to derive the Moodmetric index, the measurement works for everyone. It adapts to the typical level of the person using the ring. The ring learns the levels of the user, becomes personal, and always gives a number between 0 and 100, with a typical activation level of 50. If the user changes you can reset and the learning starts from the beginning.

The algorithm also includes an advanced artefact rejection. The electrodes touch the skin and even if your hand moves the algorithm rejects the disturbances in the signal caused by the electrode movement.

The Moodmetric measurement accuracy and current use in research

The Moodmetric ring feasibility for research has been verified by the Finnish Institute of Occupational health.
Link to the EMBC ´15 conference paper.
It has been used in following research programs:

Pop up, 2015-2016

‘Pop up  – knowledge work productivity’ research project provides new research results, practical methods and measurement tools for developing knowledge work productivity and well-being at work. Knowledge work is analyzed through a work system including physical, virtual, social and emotional environments. This project develops and utilizes participatory Pop up –method for designing and testing new work environments and practices that provides more productive ways of working. In addition, the project develops metrics and measurement tools for analyzing the impacts of new work designs. Mobile devices, sensors and applications are utilized to study fluency and experienced well-being and productivity of knowledge work.

Project’s multidisciplinary team comprises researchers from Tampere University of Technology (TUT) and Aalto University. The project is carried out in close collaboration with industry partners: Tampere Region Economic Development Agency Tredea, Arkkitehtitoimisto Helamaa&Heiskanen, University Properties of Finland Ltd, Martela and Moodmetric.

Contact persons:
TUT Novi research center: Maiju Vuolle, maiju.vuolle(at)tut.fi
TUT Human-centered technology: Kaisa Väänänen, kaisa.vaananen(at)tut.fi
TUT School of Architecture: Jenni Poutanen, jenni.poutanen(at)tut.fi
Aalto Virtual and mobile work research unit: Matti Vartiainen, matti.vartiainen(at)aalto.fi

DEEVA, 2016 -2019

DEEVA project utilizes the opportunities of digitalization to create value from data and to develop new, customer driven service products and methods which support value co-creation and that are based on deep understanding of customer experience.

The research question is as follows: what kinds of means, modes and contexts combining data, emotions and experiences digitalization enables. The project is carried out with a large and versatile network of enterprises. The participating 20 companies vary in size and industry, e.g. energy, media, bank, ICT, real estate, commercial and service sectors are represented in the project.  Multisectoral group of enterprises enhance both co-learning and gaining new insights into the research topic.

The project is executed by a multidisciplinary research consortium of three universities: Tampere University of Technology, Turku University of Applied Sciences and Tampere University of Applied Sciences in co-operation with six international universities.  In addition to knowledge and publications for different target groups the project will create tools and applications for measuring customer experience and analyzing emotion data in real-time. The information provided by the tools and applications can be used in everyday activities of companies to support e.g. management of multi-channeled service environment and development of new service products and co-creative ecosystems.

Contact persons:
TUT Novi research center: Nina Helander, nina.helander(at)tut.fi
TUAS AADI Research group: Harri Jalonen, harri.jalonen(at)turkuamk.fi
TAMK Mediapolis: Leena Mäkelä, leena.makela(at)tamk.fi