Psychophysiological tests to facilitate competitive progress in elite mixed martial arts

A.A. Gorelov1
PhD V.M. Voronov2
Dr.Hab., Professor O. G. Rumba3
PhD, Associate Professor A.K. Namazov4
Dr.Hab., Professor S.S. Aganov5
1Saint Petersburg University of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation (Kaliningrad Branch), Kaliningrad
2Alexander Nevsky Club, Stary Oskol
3Military Institute of Physical Culture, St. Petersburg
4Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, St. Petersburg
5Saint Petersburg University of the State Fire Service of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia, Saint Petersburg

Corresponding author: alexagorr@yandex.ru

Abstract

Objective of the study was to analyze benefits of the psychophysiological qualities tests and analysis for competitive progress in modern mixed martial arts.

Methods and structure of the study. We sampled the mixed martial arts elite and provisionally split it up into the fast-, mid- and slow-success groups (M1, M2 and M3, respectively) for the psychophysiological qualities tests with the polar groups matching method and group competitive progress analysis. We used the following psychophysiological qualities tests: simple  and complex sensorimotor response tests; static and dynamic  movement coordination tests; critical flash discrimination frequency test; response to moving object test; and stress tolerance, activity, communication skills and feel of rhythm tests – using KPFK-99 Psychomat Test System. We also tested the attention control by proofreading test and Gorelov test; and rated the static-kinetic balancing skills by the Yarotsky test.

Results and conclusion. The study data and analysis found the set of psychophysiological qualities tests being beneficial for profiling competitive progress in modern mixed martial arts. The tests found the psychophysiological qualities of the mixed martial arts elite being by far higher in many aspects than in unsporting groups and many sports groups. This finding was verified by the sensorimotor response, movement coordination, critical flash discrimination frequency, response to moving object and other tests, with a special role played by the tests of the attention controls under high-intensity physical stress and tests of the ability to fast adjust the high-intensity motor actions requiring fast thinking, with complex and partially aerial/ unsupported movement sequences. Of special benefit was the full set of Luscher tests for the elite mixed martial arts competitors qualified Honored Masters of Sports and World Class Masters of Sports – whose test rates were significantly higher than in the Masters of Sports and Candidate Masters of Sports groups.

Keywords: mixed martial arts, psychophysiological tests, psychophysiological qualities, polar groups matching method,

Background. Modern mixed martial arts fights require high stress tolerance, excellent mental control and certain physiological qualities for the mixed martial artist to be able to alternatively excite and inhibit the motor centers when necessary for success. The competitive stressors also activate functions of the sympathetic/ parasympathetic nervous system for the situation-specific performance control. Responses to the same competitive stressors are rather individual being dictated by the customary behavioral control patterns [1, 4, 6-10]. That is the reason why the mixed martial arts sport community gives a special priority to the sport-specific psychophysiological qualities and their training tools knowing that they provide a basis for success of the competitive techniques and tactics.

Objective of the study was to analyze benefits of the psychophysiological qualities’ tests and analysis for competitive progress in modern mixed martial arts.

Methods and structure of the study. We sampled the mixed martial arts elite and provisionally split it up into the fast-, mid- and slow-success groups (M1, M2 and M3, respectively) for the psychophysiological qualities tests with the polar groups matching method and group competitive progress analysis. We used the following psychophysiological qualities tests: simple  and complex sensorimotor response tests; static and dynamic movement coordination tests; critical flash discrimination frequency test; response to moving object test; and stress tolerance, activity, communication skills and feel of rhythm tests – using KPFK-99 Psychomat Test System [2]. We also tested the attention control by proofreading test [5] and Gorelov test [2]; and rated the static-kinetic balancing skills by the Yarotsky test [5].

Results and discussion. The complex sensorimotor response test found significant intergroup differences (M1 - 279.2±8.1; M3 - 311.0±6.9, p <0.05) – that were tested 99% significant for the average complex motor response time (M1 - 113.9±6.5; M3 - 143.7±4.1, p <0.01). On the average latent complex sensorimotor response time scale, we found significant (p <0.05) differences between the fast- and slow-success groups (M1 - 279.2±8.1; M3 - 311.0±6.9, p <0.05); and on the mean complex sensorimotor response time scale the difference was significant within the 99% margin (M1 - 113.9±6.5; M3 - 143.7±4.1, p <0.01).

The dynamic coordination test data were indicative of the high importance of this quality for competitive success in mixed martial arts. Thus the fast-success group was significantly better in the test than the slow-success one (M1 - 3045±136.8; M3 - 4943±237.8, p <0.001), and within the 99% margin better than the mid-success group (M1 - 3045±136.8; M2 - 4062±63.5, p <0.01). The M3 group on this test scale was also tested significantly lower than M2 (M2 - 4062±63.5; M3 - 4943±237.8, p <0.05).

On the tapping frequency scale, the fast-success group was also tested significantly higher than the slow-success one (M1 - 3.6±0.3; M3 - 5.0±0.3, p<0.01), and higher than the mid-success group (M2 - 3.9±0.2; M3 - 5.2±0.3 p <0.05). The same intergroup difference was found on the average tap time scale (M1 - 135.6±8.9; M3 - 168.9±5.3, p <0.05) and on the integral tapping value scale (M1 - 48.9±2.1; M2 - 37.6±2.7, p <0.05).

We also used the Luscher color test [3] to rate the psychophysiological qualities in the sample. The test data analysis found that on the total anxieties and compensations scale the fast-success group was significantly lower than the slow-success one (M1 - 2.8±0.1; M3 – 3.8±0.3, p <0.05); and on the vegetative index scale the intergroup difference was within the 99% margin (M1 - 0.9±0.06; M3 - 1.3±0.1, p <0.01). For the mid- and slow-success groups, the gap was significant within 95% margin (M2 - 1.0±0.08; M3 - 1.3±0.1, p <0.05).

The feel of rhythm test produced the average intervals in rhythm steps, rhythm step trend, rhythm-step-specific response number, and average response interval in tapping stage rates. The test data were found significant only for the fast- and mid-success groups on the average intervals in rhythm steps scale (M1 - 384.3±16.1; M2 - 423.0±15.0, p <0.05).

We used the Gorelov-1 jumping test to rate the group attention control under high-intensity physical stress. The test data showed this quality being critical for competitive success in mixed martial arts, as verified by the following intergroup differences: M1: 16.1±0.5 versus M3: 19.9±0.2, with the 3.8s gap, p <0.001; and M2: 16.2±0.4 and M3: 19.9±0.2, with the 3.5s gap, p <0.01. The jumping test data was also beneficial for rating the individual ability to fast adjust the high-intensity motor actions in need of fast thinking, with complex and partially aerial/ unsupported movement sequences. The test found a great advantage of the fast- and mid-success groups over the slow-success one: M1 - 33.7±0.6; M3 - 41.8±1.4, p <0.01; and M2 - 35.2±0.3; M3 - 41.8±1.4, p <0.01.

Conclusion. The study data and analyses found the set of psychophysiological qualities tests being beneficial for profiling competitive progress in modern mixed martial arts. The tests found the psychophysiological qualities of the mixed martial arts elite being by far higher in many aspects than in unsporting groups and many sports groups. This finding was verified by the sensorimotor response, movement coordination, critical flash discrimination frequency, response to moving object and other tests, with a special role played by the tests of the attention controls under high-intensity physical stress and tests of the ability to fast adjust the high-intensity motor actions requiring fast thinking, with complex and partially aerial/ unsupported movement sequences. Of special benefit was the full set of Luscher tests for the elite mixed martial arts competitors qualified Honored Masters of Sports and World Class Masters of Sports – whose test rates were significantly higher than in the Masters of Sports and Candidate Masters of Sports groups.

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