Sports science is an emerging field in recent days. Playing games has an altogether different impact on our body and mind. Games like hockey, football, cricket, volleyball that involve physical exertion and video games primarily involving mind maps, affect our mental status. We experience a variety of emotions like nervousness, anxiety, happiness etc while playing any sort of game. These feelings result due to release of certain chemical substances called ‘Hormones’.
The type of hormone released decides the state of mind of a player. This in turn influences his performance. For example, a sports captain plays an important role in maintaining an overall performance of his team which determines the fate of the game.
The captain may take on the spot decisions to modify the gaming strategy for a better result. If the captain feels stressed or nervous, inappropriate decisions might lead to the failure of entire team.
Understanding the mental status of a player prior and providing necessary counseling therapy may be very beneficial. This will improve the team performance that would lead towards victory.
The analysis of such hormones responsible for stress could be helpful. Interestingly these hormones are found in blood as well as released by salivary glands into Saliva. Hormone analysis in saliva is non – invasive, easy to perform and painless making players more compliant. Cortisol is released when a person feels stressed or nervous–hence the name ‘stress hormone’. Analyzing salivary Cortisol levels could be a game changer.
The issue of chronic stress in athletes has been a focus of research. Many professional sports clubs are now taking chronic stress evaluation in athletes more seriously by employing sports psychologists, or so-called ‘wellbeing managers’ to provide support to fulltime athletes, who deal with stressors. A recent study performed by Dr Manuel Jimenez and his team (International University of La Rioja, Spain) aimed at analyzing neuroendocrine stress response and psychological anxiety response in expert and non-expert video game players (also known as esport players). They assessed salivary cortisol levels of these players and found it to be higher in expert video game players.
Performance pressure in expert players was the reason for such an increase in salivary cortisol levels, stress and anxiety. Hence, saliva can act as a promising diagnostic fluid in assessing stress levels in athletes. This will definitely answer whether we win or lose a game? Ask your Saliva.