The effects of biofeedback on performance and technique variables during the boxing jab

Mark Chen, Kevan Spanton, Iain Spears, Paul Van Schaik, Daniel Eaves

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A growing body of research has addressed the application of movement-based biofeedback techniques for improving sports performers’ gross motor skills. Unlike in previous research, we aimed in this study to quantify the effects of this “external” biofeedback on selected performance and technique variables for the boxing jab among both novices and experts. The technical setup included two inertial measurement units linked wirelessly to a video game system with audio output. The units were configured to provide auditory external biofeedback, based on the peak acceleration of the bag (i.e., biofeedback with an external attentional focus). Sixteen participants (8 novices and 8 experts) performed boxing jabs against the bag in blocked phases of biofeedback. When compared to baseline, the acute effects of externally focused biofeedback on peak bag acceleration were possibly positive in both retention phases for novices (d = 0.29; d = 0.41) and likely positive for experts (d = 0.41; d = 0.30), respectively. The experts’ performance improvements were accompanied by substantive increases in trunk rotation, though this was not true for the novices. Thus, technique improvements can be promoted indirectly via externally focused biofeedback, but only when these actions are within the performers’ motor repertoire. Overall, biofeedback via inertial sensors appears to be a potent technique for modifying human movement patterns in both experts and novices. This low-cost technology could be used to support training across sports, rehabilitation and human-computer interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1607-1622
Number of pages16
JournalPerceptual and Motor Skills
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2021


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