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Clenching your fists can help the mind !!

Did you know that by simply clenching your fists, certain regions in your brain can get activated to help you deal with pressure and can even help you get a good grip on your memory? And now you’re probably clenching your fists really hard to see whether this was all just a bluff or not. 

Maybe you could see the results much faster if you were to go and play a tournament or match tomorrow, cos according to researches clenching your fists could help you avoid choking during intense pressure right before a game commences. Also clenching your fist could help you get a good grip on memory. So the next time you’re worried that you may forget where you kept your car keys, just clench your fist real hard while holding the keys and then later clench them again later to recollect where you had put them in the last pace.

Clenching left hand could help athletes avoid choking under pressure !!

Researchers have found that certain athletes were able to improve their performance under pressure simply by squeezing a ball or clenching their left hand right before a competition to activate certain parts of the brain.

Rumination could interfere with performance and concentration!!

Rumination or the process of deep thoughts regarding something could interfere with concentration and performance of motor tasks. According to one researcher athletes usually performed better when they trusted their bodies rather than thinking too much on their own actions or something their coaches told them during practice. And while it seemed counter-intutive, consciously trying to keep a certain balance was likely to produce imbalance. This was witnessed in reality in some sub-par performances by gymnasts during the Olympics in London.

Previous researchers have shown that rumination was linked with the brain’s left hemisphere, while the right hemisphere was linked with superior performance in automated behaviors, such as those used by a few athletes. 

The right hemisphere controlled the movements of the left side of the body while the left hemisphere controlled the movements for the right side of the body. Researchers theorized that squeezing a ball or clenching the left hand would activate the right hemisphere of the brain and thus decrease the likelihood of the athlete's choking under pressure. 

This study had focused more on right-handed athletes because certain relationships between different parts of the brain weren’t as well understood for left-handed individuals according to the researchers. 

The Study !!

Researchers carried out three experiments with experienced soccer players, judo experts and badminton players Simultaneously researchers in Germany tested the athlete's skills during practice and later in stressful competitions before a large crowd or video camera.

It was observed that right-handed athletes who squeezed a ball in their left hand before competing were less likely to choke under pressure than right-handed players who squeezed a ball in their right hand. 

However, for skilled athletes, many movements such as kicking a soccer ball or even competing a judo kick became automatic with little conscious thought. When athletes under pressure weren't performing well, it was because they were focusing too much on their movements rather than relying on their motor skills developed through years of practice.

The Soccer Test 

In the first experiment, 30 semi-professional male soccer players took six penalty shots during a practice session. The next day they attempted to make the same penalty shots in an auditorium packed with more than 300 university students who were waiting to see a televised soccer match between Austria and Germany. 

The players who squeezed the ball with their left hand performed as well as they performed under pressure during their practice session. While players who squeezed a ball in their right hand missed more shots in the crowded auditorium.   

The Judo Test

In the second experiment, 20 judo experts (14 men and 6 women) took part in the experiment. First, they performed a series of judo kicks into a sandbag during practice. During the second session, the fighters were told that their kicks would be videotaped and evaluated by their coaches. 

The judo athletes who squeezed a ball with their left hand not only didn’t choke under pressure, but they also performed better overall during the stressful competition than during practice, while those in the control group choked under pressure.

The Badminton Test

In the final experiment, 18 experienced badminton players (12 men and 6 women) completed a series of practice serves. Later they were divided into teams and competed against each other while being videotaped for evaluation by their coaches. 

Athletes who squeezed a ball in their left hand didn’t choke under pressure, unlike the control group players who squeezed a ball in their right hand. A final stage of the experiment had the athletes simply clenching their left or right hand without a ball before the competition, while the players who clenched their left hand performed much better than players who squeezed their right hand.  

Does it always help?

Researchers, however, found out that the ball squeezing technique probably wouldn’t help athletes whose performance was based on strength r stamina such as weightlifters or marathon runners.

The effects applied only to athletes whose performance in the game was based on accuracy and complex body movements such as soccer players or golfers for instance.

The study could also have important implications outside athletics. Elderly people who were afraid of falling often focus too much on their movements. So in this regard, right-handed elderly people had higher chances of being able to improve their balance by clenching their left hand before walking or climbing the stairs.

Also, many movements of the body could be impaired by attempts at consciously controlling them. This technique could also be helpful for many daily life situations and tasks.

The research was carried out by Juergen Beckmann, Ph.D. chairman of sports psychology at the Technical University of Munich in Germany along with a group of researchers.

Clenching Right fist may give better grip on memory !!

A study found out that clenching the right hand may people form a stronger memory of an event or action and clenching your left hand may help you recollect the memory later.

The Study!!

Individuals in the research study were split into groups and asked to memorize and then recall the words from a list of 72 words. Participants were divided into four groups and were then instructed to clench their fists.

  •  The first group clenched their right fist for about 90 seconds immediately prior to memorizing the list and then did the same immediately prior to recollecting the groups.
  • The second group clenched their left hand prior to both memorizing and recollecting.      
  •  the third and fourth group clenched one hand prior to memorizing (either the left or right hand) and the opposite hand prior to recollecting.      
  •  A control group was also present but were instructed to not clench their fists during any point of the test.

The results !!

The groups that clenched their right fist when memorizing the list and then clenched the left fist when recollecting the words performed better than all the other hand clenching groups. This group also did better than the group that did not clench their fists at all. However, this difference was not statistically significant.

The findings suggest that a few simple body movements, whereby temporarily changing the way the brain functions, can improve memory. Future studies plan on examining whether hand clenching can also improve other forms of cognition like verbal or spatial qualities. 

The researchers also conclude that further study was required to test whether their results with the word list game could also extend to memories of visual; stimuli like remembering a face or spatial tasks such as remembering where keys were placed.

Based on previous studies, the researchers suggested that this effect of hand clenching on memory can be because clenching a fist activated specific brain regions that were also associated with memory formation.

The research was carried out Ruth E.Propper and a team of researchers.